When store manager Nate Alcos talks about the staff and customers of Powell River’s Save-On-Foods, the pride in his voice is unmistakable.
“I’ve talked to other managers around the province about their experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic, and hands down I think our team members handled it the best out of the entire company,” says Nate. “That comes down to the dedication of our team and the patience and understanding of our customers, and I really just want to thank everyone for that.”
It has been an interesting six months for the grocery store. In November, one of its competitors closed, which meant an increase in the number of customers shopping at Save-On-Foods. In January, the staff thought the rush was behind them.
“I’ve learned never to make any predictions, because once we got through Christmas, I said we’d never be that busy ever again,” says Nate. “Then two months later, COVID-19 hit. My team members all laugh at me now when we talk about it.”
Nate believes the extra busy Christmas season was one of the reasons the Powell River store handled the pandemic response so well.
“We saw what we could do during Christmas, so when this challenge came up, we realized that we’d been through it before,” he says. “Yes, the stakes were higher. We had to keep our customers and our team members safe.
“I have real admiration for my team, because they are fearless and dedicated to this community. We were all focused on one goal, which was to get everyone what they needed as quickly and safely as possible.”
That focus on customer service is ongoing, and is reflected in some of the offerings now available across the store.
“We have meal specials every day in our deli, and happy hours at our meat counter Tuesday through Friday, where you can get 50 per cent off specific items between 3 pm and 6 pm,” explains Nate.
Wednesday’s deli special, for example, is a rotisserie chicken, two salads, and four dinner buns for $12, and the meat counter happy hour special is chicken wings for 25 cents each.
“If you’re struggling to figure out what to make for dinner, we’ve got you covered with a good meal at a great price every day of the week,” says Nate.
Save-On-Foods also has an in-store bakery, where fresh artisan breads are baked daily.
“If you’ve got a special occasion coming up, our cake case is the place to go,” says Nate. “The bakery staff can customize any cake to your specifications, including adding a photograph to the top of it.”
Online shopping was also introduced in the fall, and has been a big timesaver for busy residents, according to Nate.
“I spoke with some of our first online shopping customers, just to find out what they thought of the service,” he says. “A lot of people, especially parents with children, really appreciated not having to spend an hour after work getting all their groceries for the week. It was one less thing they had to schedule, and it’s a service we provide at no additional cost.”
While the global situation continues to evolve and change, Nate says Powell River’s Save-On-Foods will continue to focus on its primary goal of customer service.
“Some of our team members have worked here for over 30 years, and some have just started with us, but they all have the same incredible sense of pride and dedication to ensuring everyone in Powell River is looked after,” he says. “For us, it was and will continue to be about how we can serve the community and make shopping at Save-On a seamless and easy experience for everyone.”