South Okanagan community without a grocery store struggling to fill void | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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South Okanagan community without a grocery store struggling to fill void

Existing retailers in Okanagan Falls are trying to fill the community's demand for grocery services following the closure of the only grocery store in the community last September.
February 08, 2020 - 10:30 AM

A small Okanagan community that recently lost its grocery store continues to hope for a new operator as it tries to fill the void.

Marketplace IGA closed in September, 2019, after 25 years of operation in Okanagan Falls, leaving the community of around 2,500 and another 1,500 surrounding residents without full grocery facilities.

Attempts have been ongoing since then to find a new operator for the empty store, and in the meantime other community merchants have been doing what they can to fill the community’s grocery needs.

“We have dairy and bread products now coming in twice a week to try and meet demand. We’ve expanded the list of grocery store items we carry and have added more perishable items,” says Okanagan Falls Corner Store manager Trisha Davis.

“The closure has had a big impact on the community. It’s a lot quieter now,” she says.

She says no one else has the retail space required to carry a full grocery store line.

“We’ve tried to cram everything into every nook and cranny we’ve got to try and help with demand, but space is an issue. We are all hoping to get a grocery store back in the community,” she says.

Amanda Kaden manages the Heritage Market in Okanagan Falls. She says her store has brought a lot more in than what was available before, but two things no one has been able to accommodate are fresh produce and meats.

“We are seeing some new customers since the IGA closed. A lot of people in Okanagan Falls don’t drive. It’s definitely had an impact on the community. We’re trying to bring in what people want and respond to consumer needs,” she says.

Okanagan Falls Pharmasave manager Heidi Stelzner says her store is trying to bring in grocery items.

“A lot of people here want to shop local,” she says. “We really hope someone jumps on that grocery store, for the sake of the town. It’s a difficult thing for people here.... Stores in Okanagan Falls simply don’t have the buying power to bring in meat and groceries. We’re primarily a Pharmasave, our core is a pharmacy, but we have brought in food and shelf staples to help people get by.”

OK Falls resident Penny Elliott has stepped forward in an effort to help those who aren’t able to make the 20 kilometre plus journey to Penticton for groceries, creating her business, “Ol’ Mother Hubbard Grocery Assistant."

“I’m providing two options. I can bring my iPad to a customer’s residence where they can shop online. I set them up with an account at the Real Canadian Superstore, they place their order and I pick it up. They don’t have to leave their house,” Elliott says.

Elliott will also take a client’s grocery list and shop for them.

“I’m trying to get the word out,” Elliott says. “I’m hearing from a lot of people, but many residents aren’t aware of the service. Okanagan Falls is an elderly community and a lot of people are isolated. Not having a grocery store leaves a void that needs to be filled,” she says.

Elliott's service can be reached at 250-408-4990.

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