The grand opening of the new 49th Parallel Grocery store in Chemainus took place yesterday (Oct. 28) 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 at the 21,500-square-foot store.
“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 at 3055 Oak St. and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. It is now the second 49th Parallel Grocery in Chemainus.
The other smaller store, also on Oak Street, has been open for over 33 years, and 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 scratch bakery here, a bigger deli, meat counter, a flower shop and a café for customers to maybe enjoy a coffee whilst out shopping.”
According to Wayne Richmond, the older store by the ferry terminal will be renovated as a satellite and will be renamed the 49th Parallel General Store.
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 Chemainus 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. Parent 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 Richmond family has been wanting to open a new store in Chemainus for about 16 years. At one point in the past, 800 North Cowichan residents submitted letters of support for the store to a public hearing, which 400 people attended to voice support for the store, according to our archives.
Chemainus Village Square, which broke ground June 13, 2012, is also set to welcome an Island Savings, Pharmasave and the Chemainus Village Liquor Store to the mall surroundings in the near future.
Len Wansbrough, of developer Metropolitan Capital Partners, said some 35,000 of the project’s 62,000 square feet is leased, and only about 4,000 square feet is left to build on his formerly vacant four-acre site.
— with files from Peter W. Rusland