Moncion Grocers Petawawa Market

Ontario’s award-winning community grocer
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Chuck McKenna

Based in Petawawa, for more than 30 years Moncion Grocers Petawawa Market (Petawawa Market) has been helping Ontario families bring the best to their table. Petawawa Market is just the right size, large enough to guarantee quality, value and selection, yet small enough to serve customers better than a big-box store.

“We’re a family-owned grocery store at approximately 30,000 square feet and we employ 100 people,” details Denis Moncion, owner and operator of Petawawa Market. One reason the market has been standing for so long is Denis and his wife, Debbie Moncion and their simple but serious passion for their work.

Moncion Grocers Petawawa Market

The road to Petawawa

Denis has loved the grocery industry since he can recall. “I began sorting pop bottles at 5 years old in my parent’s grocery store in Pembroke,” he tells. Years later, he continued to work in the family business throughout high school. “I was always in a grocery store,” he adds. “I left to study business in Kingston in the hope of someday, owning my own store.”

After the couple married, the Moncions moved back to Ottawa to explore career options and it wasn’t long before Denis found himself back in the grocery business. He worked as an assistant retail grocery manager and began opening convenience stores for M Loeb Limited.

But he was drawn back to his parent’s establishment and moved back to Pembroke to manage their store. In 1983, things changed and Denis and Debbie made a life-changing decision to purchase their own small IGA store in the neighbouring town, Petawawa. “We started out with just $10,000,” shares Denis.

Slowly but surely, the store took off and in 1997 the couple purchased 15 acres and began drawing up plans for a bigger and better store to meet the needs of the sprawling Petawawa community. “The site now has 14 commercial units and the first on the property was a KFC restaurant, which went up in 2001,” details Denis.

Together, with the staff, after years of patience and commitment, Denis and Debbie finally opened the doors of their brand new, state-of-the-art, 30,000-square-foot store under the new name: Moncion Grocers Petawawa Market. This was followed by the construction of a seven-unit retail mall, the Petawawa Market Mall, adjacent to the new grocery store.

Owning and managing the entire shopping complex, which now spans 21 commercial tenant units, has driven diversity and a steady revenue stream to support the market. “We just added a new store to the complex which my son, daughter and son-in-law are managing,” details Denis. “It’s a Rona Home Improvement Center –similar to Lowe’s or a Home Depot. The building went up this past August and is 15,000 square feet.” This is the first hardware store for Petawawa.

Hands-on ownership

Although the operation has expanded, Denis, Debbie and all Petawawa Market employees are committed to serving the people of Petawawa as an independent business better than most big-box stores. “We’re truly grateful to the people who have helped us along the way and who have continuously supported us,” says Denis. “This is why we spend a lot of our time on the floor, talking to customers. We also focus on running a very clean store, because we care what our customers think. We know that cleanliness reflects our concern for our customers’ health and safety.”

The Moncions commitment is well noted as the store has earned numerous awards as Grocer of the Year. Petawawa Market won Bronze Independent Grocer of the Year in 2006, followed by a Gold-level Grocer of the Year award in 2008. “We also have earned the Award of Merit from the Independent Grocers Association (IGA) or maintaining a high standard of shopping,” says Denis. “We get evaluated every year and Petawawa Market has won for 10 consecutive years. In 2013, we also received the Diamond Award standard from the CFIG.”

Inside the market

So what is it that makes the Moncion’s market an award winner? Denis points to a focus on fresh that begins with longstanding relationships with top suppliers, such as Toronto-based Gamble Foods and National Grocers. “They work with farmers and make sure we have the freshest produce possible,” says Denis.

While Petawawa Market is much more than a grocery store, the grocery department is the heart and soul of the operation. “We’re stocked with a variety of packaged goods from canned soup and condiments to pet food, cleaning supplies and baby products,” says Denis. “People can get everything they need here because we have the selection of a big-box store.”

This selection includes a variety of options for peanut allergies and gluten-free sensitivity. If your health depends on eating specialty foods, Denis says Petawawa Market is the place to shop. “We carry an ever-increasing variety of nutritious items produced by brand-name supplies without nuts, wheat or gluten,” he assures. “Our bakery even offers school-safe individually wrapped cookies in different flavours for children who are peanut intolerant.”

If for some reason, a product isn’t on the shelves, Denis says, the market will go out of its way to get access. “If we don’t have something currently in stock, we’ll do our best to bring it on board,” he says. “When customers ask for product information we go online and look it up for them.”

Petawawa Market has a complete a full-service deli with a wide assortment of deli meats, cheeses, freshly-made salads and food platters for a variety of occasions. “We offer custom trays for individual selections or customers can choose from a wide variety of in-store platters: cold cuts and seafood, veggies and fruits, cheese and crackers,” details Denis. “We have sandwich and wrap trays, pickle and olive trays and salad platters also available.”

Community connections

If there’s a larger hungry crowd, Petawawa Market is known for its express barbecue. “From hamburgers, cheeseburgers to hot dogs and sausage, we can feed a hungry crowd, for a school fundraiser or sport team or any community events right here or on site,” says Denis.

With a Wal-Mart Supercenter not far down the road, Denis says competing against big-box competition can be challenging at times. “We’ve tried to diversify in every avenue we can from fresh produce to an attached pharmacy,” he considers. “But I think what sets us apart the most is the family-like feel and our ties to the community. We run a very honest business with many long-term employees and we’ve been a part of the Petawawa community for more than 30 years –that says something.”

30 years is a testament to Moncion Grocers Petawawa Market’s growth within the community and the Moncions continue to passionately serve new and familiar faces.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Maple Leaf Foods
NG Cash & Carry
Welch LLP Chartered Accountants