Co-op plans new grocery store for Moosomin

$16 million, 30,000 square foot store planned

October 16, 2023, 8:20 am
Kevin Weedmark

Borderland Co-op has announced it will build a new 30,000 square foot grocery store in Moosomin. Construction will start within weeks, and the building should be completed in late 2024 or early 2025.

Borderland Co-op plans to start work soon on a new 30,000 square foot food store in Moosomin, with work to be completed in late 2024 or early 2025.

By comparison the current food store is 17,000 square feet, the Home Centre is 25,000 square feet, and the Co-op food store in Harbor Landing in Regina is 40,000 square feet.

The new store will be built on the site of the existing food store parking lot, so the current store can remain open while it is built, but will be oriented in the opposite direction, with the front facing Gordon Street.

“The new building will feature a larger sales floor with more variety in all categories, new product programs and larger production areas to enable us to add inhouse produced products at all our food stores across the Borderland geography. This combined with daily delivery cycles to all locations (currently being piloted in Rocanville) will give members in all communities access to the entire selection of dry and fresh food products Borderland has to offer,” Borderland said.

“Our goal with this project is to not only replace an aging asset that has become too small for the demand, but also use it as a tool to enhance what we can offer in all of our food stores” said Borderland Co-op Board President Lawrence Swanson.

“We now have technology tools that we have never had before, like click and collect, that opens up the possibility to give our members access to our entire catalogue of product delivered to their home Borderland Food Store.”

Jason Schenn, Borderland CEO, said he sees this project as a key piece in maintaining operational stability with a workforce that is changing.

“It is a reality that specialized skills in all production areas are difficult to recruit in rural communities,” he said.

“Many young people are not pursuing careers in the food trade like meat cutting, baking and commercial cooking.

“Those that do are attracted to larger urban centers for various reasons,” said Schenn. “The capability for us to do centralized production in a larger location with a larger population base gives us the ability to consistently supply in house produced items in all our Food Stores and support smaller locations when key positions are vacant.”

Schenn said he is very happy to be able to get to the point of making the announcement, after several years of planning.

He said lots of considerations were weighed to get to this point.

“There were so many things to consider,” he said. “All of the projects in the stream, the needs of all of the communities that we serve and food sustainability coming out of Covid was a big thing. How do we continue to develop sites that we need to develop without sacrificing our branch operations? So a lot of this project is built around the idea of how can we support all of the communities that we serve, not just exclusively Moosomin. The site is going to have a lot of impact on our branch locations as well, to help enhance what they offer.

“Right now we’re actually doing a pilot project with it in Rocanville and the way that it’s working there currently, we’re only onto the click and collect portion of it which is the online ordering. So individuals can order online for the whole catalogue of everything we have and we bring it to the Rocanville store today and the customer can pick it up there and pick up the fresh produce and things that they want off of the regular sales floor there. So it’s trying to expand the access to everything we have virtually through our branch locations as well.”

He said the Moosomin store will add production capacity, and products can be shipped to other Borderland locations

“It’s expanding production capacity along all of our lines. We need more warehouse space for grocery, more freezer space, you name it—all of the different things that we bring in that are frozen product, more produce space for prep and for storage, more bakery and deli and meat cutting. We’re already producing for two of our branch sites where we haven’t been able to find cutters in the community, so we’ve already been doing that for several years and we anticipate that when our current guys retire, there’s probably not going to be a lot of cutters that are going to be in behind them to take those roles. So we want to be prepared to be able to continue to provide in every community and just scale everything up so that we can operate big scale to serve everybody.”

Schenn said Borderland is looking at options of what can be added with the new space.

“There will be access to a lot more programming,” he said. Square footage limits a lot of what you can do in any store, so having the ability to lay everything out and put some new things in there—there’s lots of different programs but we haven’t nailed them all down yet. We’ll be expanding ethnic sections, and there’s not really anything in there that’s not getting affected to some degree by getting expanded space and more variety.”

Largest Borderland project ever
Schenn said the new food store is the largest project Borderland Co-op has ever undertaken.

“The budget for this project is $16 million. So it’s the biggest project that we’ve undertaken in terms of dollar value,” he said.

There has been a lot of work over the last few months to finalize the planning.
“Really the biggest piece was just getting a contractor lined up and making sure that the scope of the project could fit within our budget,” said Schenn. “That’s been the big thing and fortunately the general contractor that we selected was the same GC that was working with us on our DQ project in Whitewood and they performed fantastically through that. There was a good relationship built so we’re going to carry that forward into this project.

“There are the final things—the building permit and I think there’s a foundation only permit that we’re going to be getting first so that we can get started right away. We’ll finish off the rest of the design and the second stage of the permit will come as we’re building the foundation.”

Construction will start soon
Schenn said construction should start within weeks.

“We want to get going as soon as possible. We want to get piles in the ground before it freezes up. We’re not far away from that but there are things that need to get done first—right now it’s just getting the final foundation drawings and then I think the building permit can be dealt with. I think everything else is sorted out with Municode, so it’s just some closing details in the final drawings to be able to present to the town for the building permit and then we should be able to get going.

The work should wrap up in late 2024 or early 2025. “Ideally it would be nice to be open for Christmas of next year, but given the nature of construction and still some long lead times on things like refrigeration—and we’re looking at a lot of those things being 40 weeks—so a lot of that stuff is already getting ordered today in order to be here in time. Rooftop units is another sketchy one. If we can get that done within 12 months, that would be fantastic but the realist in me is saying that it’s probably going to be early 2025.”

Downtown site preferred
Schenn said Borderland considered building on the highway near the C-store site, but feedback indicated most people preferred a downtown location.

“We had a lot of discussions and conversations with people and there was a huge desire for it to remain downtown and central to the community, because the other option for us was going out to our C-Store site, and at the end of the day here, from what we’re hearing, talking with seniors and people that are generally on foot, the center of the community was generally preferred.

“We really don’t have any other sites that it would have been able to be done other than the one we have, so that’s basically how we got to it.”

He said the current grocery store is just too small for a community like Moosomin.

“When we built it in 2003, it was pretty big for a town of our size, and now the community has grown, which is fantastic, and we’ve grown along with it. This site and its sister site in Fort Qu’Appelle are the two highest sales sites in the Co-op system in that square footage category which indicates that once you’re at that particular point, where you’re generating the maximum amount of sales per square foot, that it’s time to do something with it.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for awhile here now, but between other projects that became a priority like the home centre when North American Lumber burnt down, it kind of put that one to the front of the line.

“Then things like the amalgamation and other priority projects like the DQ and some of the other things that we did in other communities as well with some renovations, and then Covid took two years out of us because we were getting close to being able to go with it. Covid put us back a couple of years so we wanted to sit back and see what exactly the world looked like and what kind of changes we’d have to make to our floor plan between pre-Covid and post-Covid. The reality is that we had to make a lot of changes. Covid changed a lot of things, so it impacted the design of what we’re going to end up with here in the end.”

Construction is expected to last 12-14 months during which time onsite parking will be limited.
“Our Food Ops team has developed a Member Care plan to minimize disruption during construction. This will include click and collect (online order with pickup or delivery), shuttling to and from off-site parking and enhanced carryout support,” COO Jeff Haubrich said about the upcoming project.

Borderland operates six food stores in Moosomin, Rocanville, Kipling, Whitewood, Broadview and Grenfell.