Locals flocked to the Kinsmen Centre on Friday and Saturday for FreshCo’s latest job fair – which sought to fill its employee roster before the Aldergrove store opens on Nov. 14.
Franchisee Ben Wade, a Langley resident, was there to greet potential hires with his newest department managers.
“We’re going to be one of the largest employers in the community,” Wade explained. “So we’re going to do our best to be a part of it.”
The store at 27566 Fraser Hwy. has undergone extensive renovations since its May closure, when a reported 123 Safeway employees lost their jobs after Sobeys Inc. acquired the Canadian division of Safeway in 2013 as part of a $5.8-billion deal.
“They’ve divided the unit up and taken about 10,000-square-feet off for a separate unit they will lease to somebody else,” Wade explained.
Though no full-service departments will operate within the soon-to-open FreshCo, “when you come into our store you’re paying a lot less for your groceries,” he said.
The location’s new grocery department manager Mike Pauls, from Abbotsford, will be challenged with maintaining a fresh stock of groceries on the store shelves.
Pauls previously worked at Safeway before switching to marketing, but the job opportunity in Aldergrove pulled him back into retail.
Aldergrove resident George Bousserski was also an employee of a Safeway before coming to work for Wade.
Bousserski will manage the produce department, responsible for a fresh fruit and vegetable supply.
“Produce will definitely be one of our biggest departments. Fresh is a really big push for the FreshCo banner,” Wade elaborated.
“We pride ourselves on our produce.”
Bousserski lives just a five-minute walk away, which will prove much more convenient than his previous job.
Meat department manager Bambi Bard, from Abbotsford, will manage the self-service meat areas in the store.
For Wade, it was crucial that his store management either lived in Aldergrove, “or very close to its borders.”
Wade has worked at various Safeway locations for the last 18 years including Richmond and Langley, in a management role.
He admitted it was a tough decision, to run with the opportunity of running his own store.
“We’re sensitive to the fact that this used to be a Safeway,” Wade said.
“We strive to rebuild that sense of sincere relationships and interaction” that existed before the store’s closure.
FreshCo is “still part of a Canadian-owned family” of Sobeys companies, Wade emphasized, with the majority of its locations in Eastern Canada.
Wade also plans to utilize the Aldergrove store as a partner in community endeavours, such as school and other non-profit initiatives.