I got an email the other day informing me that the Old Orchard IGA had been sold to the Overwaitea Food Group.  According to a report in Business in Vancouver, this means that the store will be briefly closed and rebranded as a Save-on Foods. Additionally, OFG has entered an agreement to supply all the remaining IGA stores with dry goods, which comprise about 40% of grocery store sales.

The former supplier, H.Y. Louie, based in Burnaby, will be largely replaced by Overwaitea’s supplier which just opened a new warehouse in Edmonton both for fresh and for dry goods. Trucking goods from Edmonton to Burnaby is somehow more efficient.

Business in Vancouver article states, “H.Y. Louie used to operate three shifts per day … in Burnaby until July 22. That dipped to two shifts per day and then recently had fallen to only be one shift per day.”

As a customer, I liked shopping at the IGA.

First of all, it was the nearest supermarket to my home. When I ran out of milk or needed a frozen pizza or ice cream, I could walk or ride my bike quickly and safely. While I was there, I’d add a few extras to the list as I could relax and browse the aisles. Secondly, the staff from the trainee cashiers to the managers were always friendly and helpful.

This is not to say that Save-on staff were not friendly; shopping there is just different.

Maybe it is the fact that I don’t carry my “customer loyalty” card, and when I get to the till I realize that I will have to pay a premium for the foodstuffs I purchase. Fortunately, there was usually someone in line ahead or behind me that would allow me to use their card to get the discounts that caused me to choose that product. As an added bonus, they got points that would mean even greater discounts on their next shopping adventure.

I know Superstore down the street collects my shopping information everytime i go in there, but for some reason it doesn’t feel as intrusive or cumbersome. The savings are immediate as long as I use my PC Financial Mastercard. The biggest drawbacks at Superstore are the crowds in the store and the unavailability of parking at certain times.

Another aspect I will miss, is the community-mindedness I sensed from IGA. The Metrotown Residents’ Association organized a community cleanup and when asked to help, they provided a giftcard for the purchase of supplies. There was no need to go to corporate headquarters to get the “okay” to donate to the cause. Going cap-in-hand to these major chains tend to be a bit more complicated and are sometimes not worth the extra effort. We will have to wait and see.

The loss of the IGA will change the atmosphere of the neighbourhood. What replaces it remains to be seen.