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Red Deer AG Foods now SuperValu

A longtime Red Deer grocery story has returned to its Loblaw roots.

Red Deer AG Foods, which is located at 3518 Gaetz Ave., rebranded last week as SuperValu. The new name is a Loblaw Companies Ltd. banner, with the national grocery giant now supplying the Red Deer store.

Previously, Associated Grocers — a division of The Jim Pattison Group — was its distributor.

Marlo Ruttan, who owns the store with his wife Violet and their business partner Chad Young, said the Loblaw affiliation gives them a much broader range of products. These include the President’s Choice and No Name brands.

“Our customers can now get lower prices,” he said of the benefit of being linked to Canada’s largest food distribution network. “That’s the whole idea behind this.”

Young said the business had operated as Red Deer AG Foods for 20 years. Before that, it was Lucky Dollar Foods — another Loblaw brand. The store has been at its current location since 1976, he added.

Young has been involved with the business since 1995, and bought it about four years ago. Ruttan and his wife joined as partners last year.

Service and convenience have been the key to competing against larger grocery stores, said Young.

“You can come to our store, get what you need and get out, whereas the big stores you’re in there for half an hour.”

Ruttan also pointed out that SuperValu is a full grocery store, with a bakery and a butcher shop. Service is the store’s strength, he agreed, citing as an example its home delivery service.

Operating as an independently owned business has also been important, said Ruttan.

He and his partners have the flexibility to stock what they want — such as more than 300 Keurig coffee products. That lineup is now responsible for more than a million dollars in annual sales.

“We have people from B.C., Saskatchewan, Calgary, Edmonton coming in here and buying coffee,” said Ruttan.

The changeover to SuperValu has involved more than adding new signs and some different products.

“We revamped the whole store, virtually,” said Ruttan.

That’s included everything from new tills and floors inside to new flower beds and lights outside.

“It was a few long nights,” he acknowledged. “We were in here until 3 or 4 in the morning.”

That kind of commitment wasn’t easy, considering that Ruttan and Young both also work as licensed Realtors — Ruttan with Royal LePage Network Realty Corp. and Young with Seller Direct Real Estate. And they’re planning on doing even more.

“Within the next two years we’re going to try to change out most of the equipment that’s in here and get more energy-efficient,” said Ruttan.

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