A chain of convenience stores with locations across Canada, including two in Airdrie, has launched an initiative to support local producers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Paul King, the consumer marketing manager of Waypoint Convenience, as part of its ‘Localicious’ initiative, the stores stock a portion of their shelves with local snacks and beverages.
Previously known as Mobil gas stations, the company began a rebranding initiative in 2019, changing its name to Waypoint Convenience. The change ushered in the chain's 'Localicious’ initiative, while also giving its locations a modern makeover.
“We know [our stores] were embedded in the neighbourhoods and the communities that we live and work in,” King said. “It definitely seemed logical for us to focus Waypoint Convenience’s differentiating points around being local and being more neighbourly.
“Part of that is bringing in local and regional products from the regions and neighbourhoods that we work in.”
Local companies lining the shelves of Alberta Waypoint locations include Twigz Pretzels – a Calgary family-owned pretzel snack company – and rök Glacier Water, which is a glacier water brand hailing from Fortress Mountain Resort, west of Calgary.
“We try to give these guys a chance to get on the shelf,” King said. “A lot of these local producers are just starting out and you’ve got to give them space and a chance to go, and some of them have bigger followings than we do. It’s a good partnership to have. “
King added that being part of local businesses success stories is what drives the ‘Localicious’ program.
“Supporting local and supporting each other is just kind of logical for us, because we are being supported by our communities,” he said. “We want to support our communities at the same time.”
Ashley Ehmann, co-founder of Twigz Pretzels, said she was pleasantly surprised by the support fellow Albertans have shown the pretzel brand since it hit the shelves at Waypoint locations.
“As a small business owner, any support – especially from local Albertans – kind of hits home,” she said. “It really gives us that drive to keep moving forward and that drive to keep expanding our products so that we can provide all Albertans with our product.”
Ehmann said that she is proud to see her product next to other local brands.
Troy Kamphuis-Finnigan, CEO and president of rök Glacier Water, said there has always been a trend toward supporting local businesses. But with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said people have been even more conscious about their buying patterns.
“It’s not just about how much bulk stuff can you get for the cheapest amount [anymore],” he said. “It’s all about clean, healthy, sustainable living.”
Kamphuis-Finnigan added the addition of the ‘Localicious’ program is testament to the changing consumer landscape.
“It’s becoming less attractive for people to blindly send money overseas to companies that are not really environmentally responsible,” he said, adding that rök Glacier Water places an emphasis on plastic-free packaging and environmental responsibility.
“It's good for the economy as a whole. Dollars that stay local tend to support local,” he added.
“Those are the dollars that your neighbour uses to buy cleats for their daughter playing soccer."