Bevendale Enterprises Inc.: Managing an Award-winning Grocer

The Whistler Grocery Store (The Grocery Store) serves as an anchor in the heart of British Columbia’s busy Whistler Resort Village, offering a destination where tourists and locals alike can access a vast selection of fresh, specialty foods. Owned and operated by Bevendale Enterprises Inc., The Grocery Store provides quality products, including prepared items and an off-site full-service café to keep pace with outdoor enthusiasts. Every year the Whistler area attracts 2 million tourists each year who come to ski, snowboard, golf, camp and mountain bike, participating in all the region has to offer, and The Grocery Store has grown to cater to this sector.

“We’re a small tourist-focused grocer,” describes Robert (Bob) Adams, president of The Grocery Store. “We stock lots of single-serve and travel items for consumers staying in the resort for a short period of time.” Along with offering the toiletries and compact provisions a traveler may need, The Grocery Store seeks out the freshest local and global ingredients, stocks a wide product base to satisfy all of their customers’ dietary needs, and operates as an employer of choice in the community, building on over a quarter-century of service.

Delivering Well-recognized Service

Adams and his wife Sue, who is The Grocery Store’s managing director, purchased the store in 1988 from original owner Jeff Power, who founded it in 1980. Over the years the business has grown and adapted to the ever-popular Whistler Resort, which has been reflected in the many respected awards Whistler Grocery has received.

In 2002 the company was recognized with the Canadian Independent Grocer of the Year award. That same year, the Adams were awarded the Whistler Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year honor. In 2009 the company was named The Whistler Business and the Arts leader for its contribution and leadership supporting cultural development in the community. Each year the store receives the Award of Merit from the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers; this award is given to industry members who complete rigorous on-site evaluations of operations.

Aiding this dedication to customer service and community enrichment is the store’s staff. The company employs approximately 60 people, ranging from young travelers to individuals who have been with The Grocery Store for over 20 years. “I employ a dedicated, enthusiastic team,” details Adams. “There are people who’ve worked here for a really long time and others who come to work for a year or two.”

As a popular recreation destination, Whistler attracts young people from around the world, many on a work visa allowing them to stay in the area, and these energetic faces provide all shoppers with friendly, knowledgeable interaction.

“Everything is Good Here”

The Grocery Store’s employees act as resort ambassadors, and can provide quick and accurate service, giving resort advice as they guide customers throughout the 5,400-square-foot store’s huge array of produce, bakery items, meat and dairy, fresh in-house meals and travel-size items. The grocer stocks a whole selection of ready-to-go items, including artisan breads, energy bars, subs, wraps, shepherd’s pie, quiche, lasagna, curries, vegetable crudities with hummus, turkey and mozzarella sandwiches, and fresh-made Greek, Caesar and spinach salads — all without sacrificing fresh and healthy ingredients. For over 18 years The Grocery Store has offered customers the opportunity first to fax and now to also submit online shopping lists ahead of time and have groceries delivered to their chalet or hotel residence. “It’s all about convenience for our shoppers,” stresses Adams.

The company’s cooks and bakers prepare everything in the ready-to-go section daily from its off-site industrial-grade commissary kitchen where they are fanatical about taste and natural ingredients. The menu selection constantly changes to keep up with seasonal availability and trends.

The Grocery Store also has a team of buyers who are always searching for new niche products and frequently do trial runs of items that larger competitors don’t offer. “We have a goal in each department to bring in new products every few weeks,” shares Adams. “Our buyers are active; you’ll find items here that other stores simply don’t have. We especially have a very up-to-date produce department, in-house butcher and carry a variety of specialty foods.

The Grocery Store is in a fixed footprint, so can’t expand, but the store does update and renovate every five to seven years to better serve visitors and address the latest retail trends.

The 2010 Winter Olympics raised the visibility of Whistler as a preferred international vacation destination. Of course operating in a tourist area during periods of economic instability can be challenging. After 25 years in business, the company has experienced the usual ebb and flow of operating in a tourist market. “Global economies really affect us,” explains Adams. “Especially the U.S. … much of the resort’s business consists of Americans who visit the area. Gradually, as both economic situations improve in Canada and the U.S., we’re starting to see more travelers coming back.”

Even during times where fewer visitors have come into the area, the community has supported The Grocery Store, and in return the store continues to give back by often making donations to various local charities and programs, including the Whistler Arts Council and the Whistler Community Services Food Bank, among many others. The Whistler Grocery Store remains a staple in the area, feeding the needs of travelers and strengthening the heart of Whistler through a passion for great food and service.