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Landmark Grocery opens in Simpson, new goods offered
Store to offer bulk orders to customers

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 13, 2012

A grocery and convenience store in Fort Simpson has new ownership and a new vision.

NNSL photo/graphic

Dennis Nelner is the store manager at Landmark Grocery in Fort Simpson. The grocery and convenience store formerly known as Fort of the Forks came under new ownership on Dec. 1. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

As of Dec. 1 Fort of the Forks became Landmark Grocery. The business is now owned by Landmark Logistics Ltd., an aboriginal corporation primarily owned by former Fort Simpson resident Catherine Blondin and former Norman Wells resident Benjamin Hardy.

The corporation was part of the original partnership that opened Fort of the Forks in 2008. Landmark has a renewable lease for the land where Sodexo placed the store, gas bar and later the industrial camp and restaurant.

When Sodexo indicated it wanted to get out of the store because they don't normally run such a small business, Landmark decided to take over, said Don Hannah, the corporation's corporate secretary.

Landmark has a new vision for the store that it is excited about. It is centred around selection, service and value.

The store is starting with a whole new inventory, expected to arrive on Dec. 13, which will be provided by new suppliers.

In addition to having a wider selection of items, the store is prepared to tailor its product line to match what customers want. If a customer can make a case for a product they want to see on the shelves, we'll see what we can do to get it, said Hannah. There will be order books on hand in the store that people can leaf through to see the other items that are available from the suppliers.

Bulk buying

In addition to bringing in small amounts of different products, Landmark Grocery also plans to make bulk or case lot orders a cornerstone of the business.

Hannah used the example of a customer with a large dog to explain the service. If they want a bulk order of dog food, we can obtain it and the whole thing will be just for them, he said.

"A lot of people in the North have interest in that," he said.

Landmark is also hoping to keep shopping local through its new services. Many people in the smaller communities travel to larger centres to stock up on groceries. With the cost of fuel, however, that isn't necessarily cost effective, said Hannah.

Landmark Grocery is including residents of Fort Simpson, resource development companies working in the Sahtu and Deh Cho, as well as communities surrounding Fort Simpson as part of its customer base. The plan is to work with the stores in smaller communities to increase purchasing power, said Hannah. The company could potentially supply to them at close to cost and those savings could be passed on to customers, he said.

Other changes are being made in the Fort Simpson store. There is a new ATM machine and an area with tables and chairs is being set up so travellers can get out of their vehicles, get a coffee and potentially purchase one of the fresh sandwiches that will be available.

Dennis Nelner of Fort Simpson, the store's manager, said he's excited to be part of this new endeavour.

"It's a good feeling to have when you are starting a brand new business," he said.

"You can't help but feel excited."

Nelner said he hopes to contribute to the community by keeping prices competitive.

"We are going to try and cater to the customer and the marketplace," he said.

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