It’s all about local.
When Seng Phung, owner of Red Basket Foods in Enderby, was getting ready to retire and sell his grocery store, it was Askew’s Foods that came to mind. Because they’re a local company, he says.
“That’s why I chose them when I decided to retire. I think, especially in a small town, having a local business, it’s more important…”
Askew’s does a good job in its other locations – Armstrong, Salmon Arm and Sicamous, he said, and he thinks they’ll do well in Enderby.
Seng Phung has owned the Red Basket for nearly 33 years.
“Being the small business in a small town like that, I always believe you have to put in your share of community work,” he emphasized, explaining he’s been with the Lions Club for the past 30 years.
He said other people were interested in buying the store, but he thinks the town is happy to have Askew’s.
“I know they will do better than me; they’re a little bigger player than me, so they will do better for the town. I just wish them well, I’m sure they will.”
Both Askew’s Foods general manager Dave Wallace and president David Askew are pleased to have purchased the Enderby store. They said Seng Phung and the Red Basket have served the community not only as a local grocery store but as an exemplary corporate citizen over the years. Askew’s hopes to follow in his footsteps.
Wallace said Seng Phung was aware Askew’s was interested in the location.
“I’ve known Seng for approximately 35 years, so it was a bit of a personal relationship that helped foster the transition.”
All current staff have been offered employment with Askew’s in Enderby. Sam Redding, assistant meat manager at the store’s Armstrong location, will be managing the meat department in Enderby.
Enderby resident Colten Noel will manage the Enderby store, and is looking forward to meeting customers and forming relationships with the many service groups in town that Seng has looked after, Wallace said.
About four employees have been added, he said, making a total of approximately 25.
Small changes in the store will be taking place over the next little while, with plans to have a full deli installed on site. He explained equipment wait times are currently about six to eight months.
The store will also be bringing in the many unique and local products that customers currently find in its other locations, he added.
Owner David Askew said the whole building is not being used for retail, so the storage space will allow them to take advantage of big buys when they become available.
Askew noted that big chains don’t have the flexibility to buy local.
“I think we do have a bit of a model in showing how food retail can work with local producers. We don’t require them to supply all our stores. If DeMille’s can supply corn in Salmon Arm and another producer in Armstrong, that’s great. We don’t need one supplier to supply all our needs.”
He also said staff have expertise, so decisions don’t have to be made at a head office.
Asked if Askew’s will expand beyond its current five locations, he doesn’t rule it out but says “there is no imperative to expand.”
The Enderby store will likely hold a grand opening in the spring.
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