For decades, the Fort Langley IGA was the only grocery store in the pretty, historic village.
Almost two years after it was destroyed by fire, the store is to re-open under the name Lee’s Market.
It’s a welcome return.
Not only was the store the major anchor in Fort Langley’s commercial core, it was a social anchor, too.
Socializing and shopping will return, and a deli which covers almost one third of the store will go a long way to re-establishing a much-missed convenience in the village.
Lee’s Market is named after Robert Lee, his brother Peter, and Robert’s nephew, Charlie (who runs the Walnut Grove IGA).
Returning to manage the store is Andy Abreo who is looking forward to a significant change: By going independent, Lee’s Market will be able to support local business by buying their products, everything from vegetables, cheeses and meat to jams and honey.
In fact, the store will carry “anything that we can find that is local,” he promised.
Supporting businesses by stocking shelves and freezers with food and other merchandise that is produced locally is important to the Lee family’s pledge to be as green as possible.
Transportation costs and fuel consumption are both reduced, Robert Lee noted.
To eliminate the use of plastic and harsh adhesives used for tiled floors, the floor is polished concrete, and to continue the eco-friendly theme, many of the coolers and freezers are reconditioned.
The store makes use of natural light, and where artificial lighting is used, it’s energy efficient LED.
When they look upward as they tuck into a sandwich or sip coffee in the deli-bistro, shoppers will see trusses which were fashioned from Douglas firs harvested at UBC’s Demonstration Forest in Maple Ridge.
Two large garage doors, one on the west wall of the deli, will bring in daylight and fresh air, and allow customers to enjoy their coffee and food on the patio.
The store will have a large section for organic produce, and a full-service fresh meat and seafood section.
“We’ll still be carrying name brands, but we’ll have a wider selection of natural, organic and local products,” Abreo said.
“We are more passionate about what we are selling, and we are educating people and sharing our passion with the community.”
Even Marcon Construction has been swept up in the enthusiasm of building and operating a greener grocery store.
“There is so much enthusiasm for the store, and it’s easy for me to get caught up in that,” said Marcon superintendent Russ Wallbank. “We are excited to be building it for Robert and the family.”
With only weeks to go before opening day, the excitement is palpable.
“We are all very excited,” Robert Lee said. “We have been here for a long time. This is a fabulous place, and Fort Langley is one-of-a-kind. It’s a place where neighbour knows neighbour.”