Food Network Star chef Lynn Crawford met with many foodies at the grand opening of Central Alberta Co-op’s new grocery store in Timberlands, including Brandi Towers and her son Wyatt, 4; Brittany Baker and her sons Jaxon, 4, and seven-week-old Thaddeus.

Timberlands Co-op stores attract crowds

Grand opening

All roads in Red Deer on Friday seemed to lead to Central Alberta Co-op’s new gas station, grocery and liquor stores that opened in Timberlands judging from the steady stream of shoppers.

Shopper Marie Hansen, of Red Deer, said the grocery store was much more than she expected.

At over 40,000 square feet, the grocery has made-in-store sushi and baked goods, a deli, a curry bar, bulk foods, dry aged beef on display, a pharmacy, and much more.

“It’s nice and bright. Aisles are wide,” said Hansen who also came out for the free car wash available with any fuel purchase made Friday at the Timberlands Co-op.

“There’s a very long line up out there,” she said with a laugh.

Kelvin McGillivray, Central Alberta Co-op board president, said the reaction from customers has been amazing.

“Whether it’s here in the grocery store, or liquor store or gas bar and car wash, we wanted to create a better shopping experience. We wanted a step up from anything else that’s in Red Deer. I think that’s what we created here. I can see in people’s eyes, they light up when the come through the door,” McGillivray said at the busy grocery store.

He said the liquor store has selection and specialty stock that people won’t find elsewhere in Red Deer.

“There’s a bottle of scotch that’s $5,900, so we’re catering to all walks of people,” McGillivray said.

Gerald Hiebert, general manager with Central Alberta Co-op, said excitement has been building internally and staff couldn’t wait to share the stores’ unique features with customers, like the tasting room at the liquor store.

“The liquor store is going to allow you to fill up a growler with your own local beer. It’s also going to allow customers to sample some wine right on the sales floor,” Hiebert said.

He said the grocery store has leading-edge services people expect to find in big city stores, like the full service meat counter instead of just a self-serve selection of meats.

“It’s a little bit different concept for us. Here you can actually order a steak by the slice.”

Hiebert said there’s a wider section of snacks, hot foods and drinks at the gas bar, but Co-op has made sure to hang on to features that Co-op members value, like full-service pumps.

Grocery shopper Wayne Rice, of Red Deer, said he came out to check out the new stores just like everybody else.

“Being a new store and new opening, I thought there’d be people around. I found a place to park so my life was good,” Rice said with a smile.

Because Rice has celiac disease, he was checking out the gluten free options, and he expected that people in the Timberlands area will really appreciate the new Co-op stores.

“I think it will be ideally located for those folks.”

Altogether the new stores have 150 employees.

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com