Elmira grocer lauded for promoting Ontario produce

Stocking the shelves with local products has earned Elmira’s Food Basics a gold creative award presented by Foodland Ontario for outstanding commitment to promoting Ontario produce.

They’re one of five Food Basics stores to receive the gold creative award for 2015. The gold award is doled out to chain and independent stores in three categories: creative, cross-merchandised and season.

Store manager Travis Restoule says the award wasn’t a surprise because buying from local vendors is an important part of the business.

“We really put a lot of effort behind it last year and tried to support all the Foodland Ontario initiatives and it just happened to work out for us,” Restoule said.

The other four stores receiving gold awards are on Regent Street in Sudbury, Yonge Street in Newmarket, Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Hartzel Road in St. Catharines. Foodland Ontario has been presenting retailer awards since 1987 to raise awareness about local produce in Ontario.

Restoule says this year the Elmira location has been focusing on buying produce from the Elmira Produce Auction Cooperative and also purchasing other products from local vendors.

And they’ve been given more say in what they sell at the store.

“This year is one of the first years that Food Basics has pretty much opened it up to the stores to buy locally. We just have to run it by our office as far as which vendors we’re going to be dealing with. And then they support us that way,” he said.

Word seems to have got around that they like to feature local products because he has vendors approaching him looking to have their items for sale at the store. He’s also able to expand his local selection through chatting with vendors at the auction and being able to see their products firsthand.

He says it’s important for him to get involved in the community in this way because it’s a win-win for the store, the vendors, and the shoppers who are looking to spend their dollars close to home.

“When we first opened up in town here we got a huge demand for local products and we’re really trying hard to accommodate our clientele with that. It expands beyond produce too. We’ve got a lot of vendors here, a lot of jam vendors, a lot of cereal vendors that are from local people here in town that we retail for,” he said.

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