A large crowd was on hand on Sunday when store manager Sandy Toma and mayor John Harwood officially opened Clearwater’s new Buy-Low Foods supermarket.
In their comments, Toma and Harwood both mentioned the speed with which the new store had been built and the positive effects the store should have on the local economy.
On hand from Buy-Low for the ribbon-cutting were president Dan Bregg and Sam Corea, director of retail operations. Also present were Ralph Sunderman and Ken Kjenstad, founders of Safety Mart, Clearwater’s former grocery store and Buy-Low’s predecessor.
The new store is 25,000 square feet in size, compared to 18,000 sq. ft. for Safety Mart.
Safety Mart opened in Brookfield Mall on Jan. 17, 1973. The original owners were Ken Kjenstad and Ralph Sunderman. The pair had worked together in Cranbrook before making the move to the North Thomson Valley,
Size of the store at that time was 10,000 sq. ft., of which 6,000 sq. ft. was floor display area and the remainder storage and freezer space.
Kelvin Arndt, Wade Elliot and Rob Sunderman owned the store from 1994 to 2013 and made a number of improvements while they were in charge.
Buy-Low purchased Safety Mart as of Nov. 30 last year – exactly one year before the grand opening.
Associated Grocers, a division of Buy-Low, had been the store’s main wholesale supplier for several years before that.
Buy-Low submitted development permit applications for the new store by Highway 5 to District of Clearwater in February and went before town council in April. A building permit was applied for at the same time.
Excavations for the building began almost right away.
The store was put up by Norson Construction out of Kelowna.
A second building located next to the Buy-Low store is under construction. Principal tenant in the second building will be Pharmasave.
In October, town council issued a development permit for a third building, which will be located between the roundabout and where the courthouse is now.
Interior Savings Credit Union will occupy the third building, which will be about 345 square meters (3,700 sq. ft.) in size.
What will happen to the space at Brookfield Mall formerly occupied by Safety Mart is not yet clear.
In a recent letter to the tenants of the mall, Sandy Reid, president of the company that owns the mall, said that they are in active and ongoing negotiations with a potential replacement tenant.
The potential tenant is interested in leasing the entire space presently occupied by Safety Mart.
Reid said that, because of the confidential nature of the negotiations, he was unable to disclose the name of the potential tenant or the nature of his business.
He did say, however, that the new tenant would add value and visibility to both the Brookfield Shopping Center and to the Clearwater community.