The grand opening of the new 49th Parallel Grocery store in Chemainus took place yesterday and commenced the official birth of the village's new mall.
Chemainus Village Square has been in the works for 16 years and a relieved but proud Richmond family, who own the 49th Parallel business, were on hand for the ribbon cutting.
"We've been serving this community since 1979 and this store has been a long time coming," said Peter Richmond whose parents, Wayne and Harmina purchased their first store back in 1977 in Ladysmith.
Richmond is now the president of 49th Parallel Grocery. He announced "welcome" joyously to a small set of local Chemainiacs who had gathered outside at 10 a.m. for the opening, eager to get their hands on some of the fresh produce.
"This is a much bigger store and I'm sure the community will enjoy it," he said.
The new store is located on 3055 Oak Street, open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and is now the second 49th Parallel Grocery in Chemainus.
The other smaller store, also on Oak Street, has been open for over 33 years but Richmond says it was now very necessary to open a larger unit.
"The community is growing," he said. "Our existing location couldn't carry everything and we now have a new full blown bakery here, a bigger deli, meat counter, a flower shop and a cafe for customers to maybe enjoy a coffee whilst out shopping."
Approximately 40 new jobs have been created inside the new 49th Parallel Grocery and a further 100 at least are set to come within the entire village square.
Richmond credited Ron Neubauer and Gerry Parent in particular with bringing the store together.
"They were our leaders, they did everything," said Richmond.
Neubauer is the store manager and will also remain in the same position at the older location. Parents deals with operations and "trades" work for the business.
"It's been a long, long road but I'm very proud that this new store is finally here," said Neubauer. It's been a real team effort and everybody worked together."
Overheard customers commented that the store is very clean and easy to get around with plenty of friendly service on offer.
The village square is also set to welcome a financial institution, Pharmasave and a liquor store to the mall surroundings in the near future.