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Meals from Home you can take home

If you have been inside the Elmira Home Hardware store in the past couple of weeks, you might have noticed some rearranging going on. The latest moves were to accommodate an M&M Food Market Express, which is now open inside the store.

Unlike arrangements where restaurants rent space inside a store – think of the McDonald’s locations inside Walmart – the M&M goods are incorporated into the Home Hardware inventory, scanned at the checkout. It’s an arrangement that’s been rolling out for some time at Home Hardware stores in Western Canada.

For Elmira Home Hardware owner Krista McBay, the idea is one that’s been percolating for years.

“In 2007, we were going to put an M&M in the store as a franchise location. And at the end of the day, it just didn’t work out, so we put that on hold. It’s always been in the back of my mind that I wanted to get them in at some point,” she explained.

Renovating and relocating sections of the store aren’t uncommon in the retail business. With this latest makeover at her store, McBay saw the time as right for adding something new to the mix.

“We start renovating and we’re always moving things around in the store – it’s the nature of the beast. We heard that there were a couple stores out west that were doing it, so I thought ‘well, maybe we’ll give it a try,’” she said of the addition of the M&M shop.

An expansion into various retail chains has been a priority for the M&M Food Market since the company rebranded two years ago from the M&M Meat Shops moniker. That includes the Express offerings in locations such as Home Hardware stores.

In Elmira, McBay has made room for the section on the west side of her store, near the Maple Street entrance, where the M&M Food Market Express items will be processed through a regular checkout counter.

“It’s actually just another department of our Home Hardware.  Those items are in our system, so that will just be you’ll get a Home receipt or you will get an M&Ms receipt,” she explained. 

The store will be carrying 135 items from the M&M lineup, a subset of the full offerings based on the most popular selections in the market.

“We’ll know very quickly what sells and what doesn’t, then we’re allowed to go back to them and make requests. They said they can’t necessarily support all of our requests but they definitely will do whatever they can to make it work.” 

She said she’ll encourage customers to leave feedback about their favourites, noting her list includes the Nanaimo bars.

“I have a word of caution: some of the dishes are addicting. M&Ms has come a long way from where they were even 10 years ago – the quality, the nutritional value,” said McBay.

“It’s not your typical freezer-burnt frozen food. There are a lot of very strict precautions in place to make sure that the product is flash-frozen so it’s frozen fresh – everything is timed. You’re going to be hooked.”

While an official launch party will have to wait given the circumstances, the M&M Food Market Express is now open at the 22 Church St. W. location.

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