The doors officially opened last week.
Eat Fresh Urban Market, nestled on the corner of Bagshaw Street and Island Highway, had a soft-opening June 28 after one year of construction and about ten years of planning.
Clayton Baker, who co-owns the store with his wife, Sally, describes it as “a speciality grocery store with a huge focus on the local food movement.”
The market boasts Vancouver Island meats such as chicken and lamb from the Cowichan Valley and beef, pork and veal from the Comox Valley.
“We want products from as close to home as possible,” store manager Jerry Jaggers told The NEWS from the market’s 12-seat outdoor patio.
Jaggers, who has 45 years of experience in the grocery store industry, said the new market aims to “make everything on site” including fresh baked breads and pastries, homemade sauces and marinades, artisan salads, soups and deli sandwiches. Even the store’s exterior stonework comes from Port Renfrew and the cedar comes from Errington.
“Not too many grocery stores actually walk the walk and support locals the way they claim to,” said Clayton, who also has more than three decades of experience in the grocery store business. “We want to support the local economy by buying from our neighbours.”
Eat Fresh Urban Market carries Serafina pasta made in Qualicum Beach, bottled water from Nile Creek and cucumbers from Port Alberni.
“We live in this community and we want to support it,” said Clayton, explaining that most of his suppliers are friends — or the children or grandchildren of friends — from his lifetime spent in the food industry.
The quaint 5,500 square foot building has been completely redesigned to reflect the owner’s ideology.
“We want to offer a more intimate grocery shopping experience so people know where their food comes from,” said Clayton. “We want to carry quality items at a reasonable price.”
Jagger said when both men first started out in the grocery store business in the 1970’s shopping was “very different than it is today.”
“Grocery stores used to be really small,” he said, as if recalling another era. “And you knew the staff — there used to be a real sense of community.”
And that’s exactly what this trio wants to re-create.
Vintage chandeliers hang from the ceiling giving the store a cozy ambiance while the open-concept kitchen allows the aroma of fresh baked bread to travel throughout the store. Shoppers stop and talk with staff, asking them questions about where their produce comes from and it seems like grocery shopping has become less of a chore and more of an experience.
“Food tastes best when shared with family and friends,” said Clayton. “One of the fortunate things in life is getting to sit down and eat together.”
Eat Fresh Urban Market is located at 164 Bagshaw St. in Parksville. The store is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. For more information contact the store at 250-248-3007 or visit www.eatfreshurbanmarket.com.