When Mike Saysell left Vancouver Island to become store manager of 150 employees at Thrifty Foods in Tsawwassen in 2013, he found himself in a community which has high standards and expectations.
"We appreciate that," says Mike. "We really do. I have high expectations, our staff have high expectations, so we want to deliver and be competitive and be a good partner in the community."
After 20 years experience in Thrifty's, Mike says the most important thing is to be able to connect with customers on an emotional level. Supporting communities on a local level has been a core value since the first Thrifty's store opened in Victoria in 1977.
"We can connect with them in a visual way but I find the challenge and the goal is to connect with them in an emotional way so that we become their store. What's important to them is important to us. What we find is that community is important. Local is important."
Throughout the year, Thrifty's Tsawwassen participates in a multitude of events and supports many local organizations. They've been the Gold sponsor of the Boundary Bay Air Show for the past three years. They support Operation Red Nose by providing food to volunteers.
Thrifty's is also involved in a number of cycling events, such as the 2017 Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley, where they welcome law enforcement riders with a barbecue. During Tour de Delta they were a sponsor and had an interactive tent where children could come and decorate cookies. Their Sun Festival tent featured their popular annual pie-eating contest.
More recently, Thrifty's supported the 3 rd Boundary Bay Cubs and Beavers in hosting their annual Apple Day Fundraiser by donating $150 worth of apples, then selling the rest at cost.
"We try to support local first," says Mike. "And then we reach out to the outer areas. There are a lot of great causes out there. The challenge is to find which ones align with our values and the community's values."
When it comes to stocking the shelves, their values remain just as focused on keeping local. Thrifty's partners with numerous farms in Delta to stock fresh produce, and tries to bring in food from the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island whenever possible.
"Sourcing local can be a challenge but it can also be an advantage to have great local vendors and great local farmers and people who are manufacturing great products. It's great to support these local families."
Mike doesn't just work in Tsawwassen. He lives here, so he gets a sense of the community dynamic and the expectations of his customers and neighbours.
"The community is very engaged here. I like that. I like the fact that people are passionate and educated. It's very diverse with different age groups. I don't want to say it reminds me of the Island but I just feel very comfortable here. I was on the Island for 44 years and when I came to Tsawwassen it felt like home."