| Aug 31, 2006

Feature Article - October 26, 2006

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Feature Article - October 26, 2006

Chuck Belcher's Sharbot Lake Freshmart

by JeffGreen

When Chuck Belcher became the new franchise owner of the Sharbot Lake Freshmart this September, he brought a lot of experience with him, both in the grocery business and in the local community.

Chuck has been working for Loblaws in Ottawa for 25 years and has owned a cottage (now a home) in Crow Lake for 20 years.

“When the franchise came open I realised I couldn’t let the opportunity to live and work in this region pass me by,” he said, when interviewed at his office above the store last week.

Shoppers at the store, which is the retail bedrock of Sharbot Lake , have probably noticed that Chuck has been a fixture in the store since early August, when he essentially took it over. Earlier in the spring Brett Harvey left the store, and then it was run by National Grocers until Chuck arrived.


“I had about a month to get oriented, and then I took over on September 8th. That’s when we went from Valumart to Freshmart,” he recalls.

The change in name only really means a change in flyer programs, although Freshmart stores do not sell some of the non-grocery items that Valumart stores carry.

“At National Grocers, they use the phrase ‘focus on food’ to describe Freshmart,” Belcher said.

Accordingly, the staff at the store has been busy re-merchandising the store, cleaning out extra product lines, and giving the store a more open feel.

Many changes are planned for the next few months, including a new meat counter, a new deli counter, BBQ chickens, and possibly a gourmet coffee section, but the first change Chuck Belcher made when he took over the franchise had less to do with food and more to do with customer safety.

He installed a metal railing at the edge of the parking lot in front of the store to protect entering and exiting cars from falling off the edge of the raised parking surface.

“I couldn’t sleep knowing that drop was there,” he said.

Once thing that Chuck Belcher doesn’t want to change about the store is the staff who work there. “The staff has been great,” he said, “as have the customers. We’re here to serve the public, and I’m open to bringing in new products if people want me to, providing I can sell enough to make it viable.”

He is also committed to bringing in local product lines, such as Conboy’s Maple Syrup and Steele’s honey, wherever possible.

Chuck Belcher has entered into a long-term franchise agreement with National Grocers. He plans to run the Sharbot Lake Freshmart. “This is what I want to do,” he said, “I love this business.”

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