Lyle and Dorinda Downey

Lyle and Dorinda Downey

Market promotes healthy living

At Crunch Time Market, it’s all about growing healthy communities from the farm to the fork.

At Crunch Time Market, it’s all about growing healthy communities from the farm to the fork.

Owner Lyle Downey opened the warehouse store in 2011, after moving to the Okanagan with his wife Lorinda and their young children.

“With a growing family, Lorinda and I wanted to experience the Okanagan lifestyle while being closer to her family,” said Downey.

“She was raised in the area so it seemed like a great place to experience together.”

Because starting a business can take time to develop, Downey worked part-time at a local credit union while launching his business plan in June 2011.

“Our business expanded quickly and I was able to cross the bridge to full-time self-employment within a couple of months,” he said. “It’s been very exciting to build something from the ground up.”

Crunch Time Market is located in a familiar North Okanagan landmark, the former home of Armstrong Cheese.

Downey has designed the store to help feed the need for healthy natural foods.

“Everyone deserves access to a wide selection of fruits, vegetables and healthy cooking ingredients,” said Downey.

“Crunch Time Market is not just a store, and it’s never putting profits above people. We have high core values for supporting our local agricultural system, global environment sustainability, and many other important food-related causes.

“We are always looking to support non-profits and sponsor groups looking to increase healthy living habits.”

Currently, Crunch Time’s main business is aimed at the wholesale market, selling to locally owned independent restaurants and grocery stores.

“We wanted to build volume first and establish a strong customer base before expanding into our other community-based products and services,” he said.

“Now we are established and have all of the tools to push forward into our other ventures.

“We have phenomenal growth plans and we’re looking at doing a marketing agency for local farmers who want to push out to the wholesale market. We are also looking at setting up a production line for pickling and canning. We have a lot of space here and we want to take advantage of it.”

At this time of year, Downey’s most popular produce items are apples, bananas, oranges, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, potatoes, onions and zucchini.

“We sell only the highest quality fresh fruits, vegetables and cooking ingredients,” he said.

“We have a large network of local farms that supply us during the growing season. I also have strong ties for imported product so we can provide year-round service and tropical flavours.”

Product costs are closely monitored and Downey said he’s noticed a larger than normal increase from the international markets. Whenever possible, customers are advised to be flexible with ingredients.

“We always have good deals on produce — it just might not be something people are familiar with. Lots of our restaurants have been successful using vegetables that don’t have such swings in price.”

Crunch Time has six full-time employees at this time of year, with a fluctuating base of seasonal employees to help during the summer season.

Growing up on a multi-crop vegetable farm in Chilliwack, Downey’s interest in farm-fresh food started at a young age. Now 30, he started Crunch Time when he was jut 26-years-old.

As a vegetarian, athlete and fitness coach, he is excited to share his personal experiences with the community that he now calls home.

“We have four wonderful children who are all interested in community health and food sustainability,” said Downey.

“Lorinda helps with the product buying and accounting. We are a very active family that is leading by example.

“We have found the local community to give huge support and appreciate the system we are building. I feel like everyone deserves access to healthy food so we are always supporting non- profits and fundraising opportunities. Our community supports will only get deeper as our business grows.”