Tru Value checks out of Cordova Bay

Grocery store with 25 employees closes its doors ahead of demolition of Cordova Bay Plaza

Rita Motorsill rings in the items for Rick Harcus during Tru Value Foods last day of operation in Cordova Bay Plaza on Friday.

The last piece of produce and final box of cereal went through the checkout at a Cordova Bay fixture on Friday.

After nearly five years in the community, Tru Value Foods closed its doors in Cordova Bay Plaza.

“It’s a really sad day because we wanted to continue there. Things were going good,” general manager Phil Greenhalgh said as shoppers picked through the final items on the store’s shelves.

He said Tru Value was informed by their landlords back in September that there wouldn’t be a long-term extension to the store’s lease when it was up at the end of March.

Cordova Bay Plaza is in the midst of redevelopment plans that would see the current stores demolished and replaced by a new development that includes a grocery store, retail shops, 86-unit coneo and 320 parking spots.

Greenhalgh said at first Tru Value was told the store could remain until the new project was complete, but were later informed by new owners that they would have to tear the whole plaza down before starting work on the new development. He said the company was offered a chance to extend the lease on a month-to-month basis, but declined.

“They said when they do that [demoliton] we would be closed for two years. When they made that announcement we lost a lot of our key people, including our whole meat department,” said Greenhalgh. “They went out to seek employment elsewhere because they had to look after their own interests, which we totally understand.”

Tru Value employed about 25 staff at its Cordova Bay location, and Greenhalgh said it is those people he will miss most about the store.

“We had some wonderful people working for us so it’s a pretty tough day to say goodbye to them. A couple of them are here from the very beginning when we opened our doors April 11 five years ago [2012].”

Rita Motorsill is one of those staff, having worked at Tru Value for the last four years after coming to Canada from Panama.

“The customers for me are like family. It’s hard because I feel like all my family is going their separate ways,” said Motorsill, who is moving down the road to work at Red Barn at Mattick’s Farm.

Frank Whysker lives across the street from the plaza and says she stops by the store regularly, sometimes multiple times a day to pick up that integral ingredient she’s missing for her meal.

“It’s so convenient. I’m going to have to get in the car now. It will be sad, I don’t know what we’ll do,” said Whysker as she gives Motorsill a hug.

“We get Spanish lessons sometime too, we’re going to miss that.”

Tru Value Foods was presented the 2017 Vancouver Island Family Business Excellence Award last month, with the company also operating stores on Quadra Island, Mayne Island and Pender Island.

Greenhalgh will now work out of Tru Value’s head office on Keating Cross Road and spend more time visiting some of the store’s other locations, but he says it won’t be the same as heading into Cordova Bay each morning.

“The setting is beautiful there. Coming down the hill to see the beautiful views really puts life in perspective when you came to work everyday. It really starts the day off right.”

Greenhalgh isn’t prepared to reject the possibility that he will see those beautiful views again one day.

“We’re waiting to see what happens with this [Cordova Bay Plaza] development because there will be a 17,000 square-foot store that’s going to be going in there.”