Community service providers in Grand Forks say they’ll take a hit when the city’s Buy-Low Foods store closes this spring.
So will the people who depend on those services.
A spokesperson for Buy-Low Foods confirmed the store will close permanently on May 21, leaving its 45 employees out of work. The company is helping employees find work in the retail grocery industry “on a case by case basis,” according to the spokesperson.
But the Grand Forks store has been a strong supporter of local non-profits, including the Boundary Community Food Bank, Gospel Chapel’s Christmas hamper program and Grand Forks’ Rotary Club.
“This will have a huge impact on the food bank, and there’ll be a proportionately huge impact on our clients,” vice president Janet Thorpe said.
Buy-Low has been a regular contributor of fruits and vegetables, dairy and sometimes meat, the loss of which “will probably be devastating.”
The store gives the food bank $1 for every point that customers choose to donate through Buy-Low’s My Neighbourhood Rewards program. Buy-Low also gives the food bank a $10 gift card for every $5,000 worth of receipts that go into the food bank’s collection box by the store’s exit.
Thorpe went on to say she was deeply concerned for the dozens of Buy-Low employees who’ll soon be loosing their jobs.
Darrell Hardy, who co-ordinates the Christmas hamper program, said Buy-Low was both a contributor and a generous supplier. Using Gospel Chapel funds, Hardy said he bought 80 per cent of the food that went into 2021 hampers from Buy-Low, especially because their prices have been consistently unbeatable.
Hardy also bought store gift cards for hampers that went to couples and families. Buy-Low had given him a 10 per cent discount on gift card purchases over $1,000. He bought $7,000 worth last December, saving $700 that went back into the program.
“It’s not at all good that they won’t be here next year,” Hardy told The Gazette.
Buy-Low donated 100 cloth bags for last year’s hampers, while Hardy said a local competitor quoted him a price of $2 per bag.
The store was a life saver during the food crunch following the atmospheric rivers that deluged southeastern B.C. last November. The dairy manager went so far as to order extra eggs that Hardy bought for the program.
Cheryl Ahrens, president of Grand Forks Rotary Club, said Buy-Low has been “very supportive,” often donating hot chocolate and paper cups for local Rotary events.
“It’ll be a big loss for the community when they go,” she said.
Grand Forks’ Buy-Low Foods has been serving city shoppers for over 30 years.