New IGA managers Blake and Lenora Dunphy each have over 20 years of grocery experience and took over the Valemount IGA last October. /SPENCER HALL

By Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative, RMG

New managers of the Valemount IGA, Blake and Lenora Dunphy, say their main focus when it comes to running the store is ensuring the community feels adequately served and appreciated.

The husband and wife team each have over 20 years of grocery experience, previously working for Sobeys on both the east coast and in Alberta. Before taking over the store this fall, Blake worked as an operational advisor for CO-OP and was responsible for 28 stores from B.C. to Saskatchewan.

“I would take care of mainly a small store like this. I would come in and review grocery, produce, meat and work on plans to improve shrink levels and sales margins,” Blake said.

Blake said because CO-OP stores are owned by members of the communities they’re in, they have many customer appreciation events. Lenora said this is something they’d like to bring to the Valemount IGA.

“We want to take a lot of that and bring it here because we did a lot of barbecues and work in the community with golf courses and different outreach groups,” Lenora said.

“We’re happy if the community comes to us and they want to do something with us, do an event, do a barbecue for a fundraiser, different things like that,” she added.

Customers are also now able to special order items that aren’t available in store.

“We have a book out front, so people want to bring some pictures, tell us a product we can look it up to see if we can actually get it. We can’t get everything, but we definitely will look for it,” Lenora said.

When asked what they’ll do differently to serve the community, Blake said they’re trying to keep the store fully stocked, which he says is a challenge as there is little room in the back of the store to keep extra stock, most of which has to be refrigerated.

He said Georgia Main Food Group ” the parent company of IGA ” is working with the landlord of the building to upgrade the back of the store and potentially add a new produce case to increase the location’s storage capacity.

Other upgrades slated for the store include a new soup bar and coffee program.