Calgary-based Sunterra Market is expanding its footprint in Alberta with the opening of a new location in Red Deer — now its ninth store — with ambitions of eventually growing even more with the right market conditions.
The Red Deer store is located in the Bower Place shopping centre in about 20,000 square feet of space.
“Sunterra’s story began on my parents’ farm in Acme, Alberta about 100 kilometres southeast of Red Deer,” said Glen Price, the company’s president. “After more than 50 years in farming and 30 years in retail in Alberta, we saw Red Deer as a perfect bridge between (Calgary and Edmonton) — an agricultural community who would understand and appreciate our focus on fresh, local and high-quality ingredients.”
Sunterra began in 1990 in Calgary in the south part of the city and the same year opened a location in the downtown Bankers Hall office skyscraper. The company has two stores in Edmonton today and six in Calgary.
The Red Deer store includes a mezzanine called the Community Table which will be a space for the community but also where it will do its cooking classes. The store will create 130 new jobs.
“I would say we’ve always had a lot of interest out of Red Deer with consumers asking us to locate there,” said Price. “We were just busy enough with our developments in Calgary and Edmonton that we just never really took a close look at it. Quadreal, the landlord at Bower, pursued us quite aggressively and were really keen on having us locate there and then we started looking at the community and even the combination of things in Red Deer, including we’re going to be very differentiated in Red Deer there’s nothing really like us at all in Red Deer, the community looked great. It’s super easy to get around.
“From Bower you can basically get to every part of Red Deer in 10 minutes. We liked that a lot. We tend to look at our market as within a 10-minute drive. That ends up being a lot of population and households in Red Deer.”
The new grocery is introducing itself to people in Red Deer by gifting more than 37,000 households in the city a complimentary family-sized meal that includes Sunterra Market-Made fresh casarecce pasta and pomodoro sauce paired with an artisan sourdough loaf and salted butter. To redeem, Red Deer residents simply bring the offer they receive in the mail to Sunterra Market Bower Place. The offer will be delivered to Red Deer mailboxes over a period of time starting in late March to be mindful of limiting lineups in-store.
“This gift is our way of saying thank you to Red Deer for welcoming the Sunterra Market family,” said Price. “The past 12 months have been particularly challenging for many families, and providing a comforting meal is the best way to show our investment into Red Deer and introduce ourselves as a neighbour who truly cares about the communities where we do business.”
Price said the company doesn’t have any immediate plans for further expansion.
“I think it’s going to be a tenant market here for quite a while now. But we don’t have anything signed up at this stage and this will keep us focused for a bit for sure. Just getting this started up in the midst of COVID and getting it going. That will be our focus for the next six months or so for sure,” added Price.
“I think we’ll keep adding. Methodically. I think we’ve got to be smart about it. It’s not so much that we have a lack of consumer market demand or landlord interest. We’ve got lots of that. It’s more that we need to continue to build more of our people base. The people are by far the best part of our organization and what differentiates us – our personality and our brand. We just need to continue to develop more people within our organization to expand more if we choose to. That’s our main asset and it’s our main challenge in terms of continuing to develop people. That’s good. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. We don’t mind being challenged to get people to a super high level. I think if we expanded too fast and too quick, our customer service might slide or our product quality might slide and then it’s no fun for anybody. So we’ve always been methodical and thoughtful about when we take on more.”
The Red Deer location’s design highlights the company’s deep roots in the Alberta farming community, incorporates a farmer’s market atmosphere that focuses on merchandising of produce, includes a kitchen for its chefs to prepare its meal kits and prepared meals, and features an innovative bakery department to act as the central hub for daily fresh bread.