Country Grocer in Nanaimo goes country, wins award

Store design captures supermarket's farm roots while employing the latest in green technologies

Country Grocer’s latest store in Nanaimo, B.C. has won top honours in the retail category at the sixth annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Boards’ Commercial Building Awards.

Assistant store manager, Tyler Large, and third-generation member of the family-run business, said it was important that the family values shone through in the new design.

“It looks like a supermarket, but we’re trying to give it a warm country feel,” he said. “We wanted to make it feel outdoorsy, but cosy.”

The 40,000 square-foot-store is encased in a bright red and orange barn-like structure, has barn door sidings and is built with natural materials throughout to emphasize its farm connections and name.

A 1956 tractor is on prominent display and the local country theme is evident in the archival photos from the Nanaimo area.

Country Grocer opened its first store in Nanaimo, B.C., in 1984 and now has seven locations on Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island.

The latest Nanaimo store, which opened last October, was built by Island West Coast Developments and designed by Raymond de Beeld Architect Inc. both of Nanaimo.

Raymond de Beeld says the building is designed to break away from the traditional look of big-box stores and return to the supermarket’s roots, emphasize the connection to farm and local produce, and convey the store as a friendly country grocer with a market atmosphere, while still employing the latest in green features.

“The form vocabulary consists of two primary barn forms, shed roofs, cupolas, dormers, and pedestrian based arcades,” said de Beeld.

Country Grocer also owns the adjacent TD Bank building which received the award with the retailer. The two buildings are connected by a post and beam arcade.

Tina Brooks, operations manager at Island West Coast Developments said a central computer manages the entire building’s mechanical, electrical and refrigeration systems, resulting in huge energy and cost savings.

The store's building management system reclaims heat generated from the refrigeration units for use in the warehouse area and also heat hot water.

The design also incorporates a pedestrian walkways, bicycle access and indoor and outdoor seating areas, while the deli, bakery and café are casually arranged to resemble a farmer’s market.

To take a tour of the Country Grocer store in Nanaimo:

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