The new grocery store that has sprung up in Mount Currie is now open for business; ready to serve the community with a significant selection of products and a new name voted for by local students.
The approximately 5,000-square foot supermarket, which has been built by the Lil'wat Nation/Mount Currie Band across from the old Xit'olacw Corner Store, opened its doors last Friday (Aug. 7) and is now fully operational, Tim Schmitt, interim general manager of Creekside Resources, said on Monday (Aug. 10).
"It's really something as a milestone for the community," Schmitt said, pointing to the importance of having a full selection of healthy food easily available to the residents in that relatively isolated area.
The grocery store, which now bears the legal name of Xit'olacw Tsípun, will offer a full product range with everything from deli meat and produce to a wide selection of frozen goods and "every sort of canned product you can imagine," Schmitt said.
With the store's approximately 1,000-square foot storage space, the facility will be better able to provide consistent service for local shoppers by keeping more items in stock "so we can always provide a good selection," Schmitt said.
Friday's opening was a soft launch, he said, and should be followed by a grand opening ceremony towards the end of August, an event that will likely include a smudging ceremony, a barbecue and other festivities.
Schmitt said he was "kind of blown away" to see the quality of the store, which he said is comparable to that of other grocery stores in Pemberton. For the Lil'wat Nation's business corporations, he added, it's "an achievement for us being able to have an operation like that," proving the calibre of the managers here.
The store could herald a future for expanded retail operations, Schmitt said, eyeing projects such as rebuilding the gas station and creating more local retail options further down the road.
For now, the new supermarket employs 15 people, approximately triple the size of the staff at the old store, and the name Tsípun was chosen by local students who voted on a list compiled by Lil'wat Nation staff and language experts. It means "root house" in Ucwalmicwts.
Construction of the store and the new community complex has been paid for almost entirely by the Lil'wat Nation's money, Larry Miller, construction manager for the projects, said last December.
Schmitt said the store's managers would like to sell more local products, so anyone in the community who could be a supplier is encouraged to contact the Creekside Resources office at (604) 894-6145 and submit their information and proposal.