BUSINESS BEAT: Longtime grocery man honoured for lifetime in the business

Thrifty Foods co-founder Ernie Skinner still going strong

Owner Ernie Skinner arranges the red peppers at Market on Yates. At 71

The grocery business is in Ernie Skinner’s blood, quite literally.

He was well-known in Greater Victoria as one half of the Thrifty Foods braintrust, opening the first store with Alex Campbell in the Fairfield Plaza in 1977 and “retiring” in 1991 with seven stores and a warehouse in operation. Skinner continued to keep his eye out for opportunities to offer a new and unique way to provide the basics, and then some.

It took until 1999 for his organic-specialty Market on Yates to come to fruition, so to speak. The success of that venture led to his partnering with daughter Christine and son-in-law Darryl Hein in 2006 to open the Market on Millstream.

It’s been nearly six decades since Skinner first donned a smock and worked the aisles at Safeway (he started in 1955). His long career and leadership in the industry prompted the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers to honour him recently with a Life Membership designation.

Now 71 and involved to a lesser degree with the Market stores – “I review the financial statements and so on” – Skinner attributes his love for the industry and the daily goings-on of the grocery business for his longevity.

“If you love something, your chances for success go way up,” he told the News. “Choose something that makes you happiest and stick with it.”

An early mentor at Safeway, Ron Olson, helped groom Skinner for future leadership, he said. “I fell in love with the industry and knew that I would someday own a store of my own, somewhere, somehow. He motivated me and today I’m still a great believer in mentoring.”

In announcing Skinner as winner one of the lifetime achievement awards, federation president and CEO John Scott called him “a true legend in the grocery industry.”

“Ernie has made a significant footprint on the Canadian grocery industry that will live on for a long time through his equally dedicated and motivated family,” Scott wrote.

As for the opportunity to work with family to grow another company, Skinner both values it and enjoys it.

“You nurture your children in life experiences and now I have a chance to nurture them in business experiences,” he said. “But you have to be prepared to let go and have them learn their own lessons.”

Despite being in a business that changes frequently and is highly competitive, with big-box stores putting pressure on smaller grocery retailers, he said it’s important to stay focused.

“Just don’t try and play their game, create your own and stick with it,’” he said. “The consumer is always the final solution to success or lack of it.”

Late-night shopping beefed up downtown

In conjunction with cruise-ship season, The Bay Centre has extended its weekend hours to accommodate the thousands of passengers expected to head up Government Street on Friday and Saturday evenings this summer. Retailers are open until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays to Sept. 4.

“We are making a commitment to our guests, cruise ship partners and local hoteliers (to provide) a welcoming environment while showcasing the vibrancy of downtown Victoria,” said centre general manager Darlene Hollstein.

Kudos for CA’s community service

Victoria chartered accountant, Gordon Gunn received a Community Service Award last week from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of B.C.

Gunn, a partner at KPMG LLP, has served as treasurer and vice-president of finance for the Boy Scouts of Canada; has acted as president, treasurer, and director of the Great Canadian Picnic Society, and as secretary-treasurer for Ballet Victoria.

He has also worked on local social housing initiatives, including the Greater Victoria Coaliton to End Homelessness.

Ten years of creativity celebrated by ad firm

Victoria ad agency McAllister Media is celebrating 10 years in business. By focusing on identifying clients’ key consumers, it has enjoyed growth in a struggling economy, says vice-president and director of marketing, Tracy McAllister, who works with husband and company president, Andrew.

Send your business news to editor@vicnews.com.

Just Posted

MISSING: Victoria police seek 42-year-old Craig Hughes

Hughes was last seen on May 20 at 5:45 a.m.

Increased rental construction boosts housing starts across Greater Victoria

Rest of Vancouver Island experiencing spillover effect from Greater Victoria

Peninsula crews extinguish early morning boat fire in Central Saanich

Firefighters saved nearby home from further damage

Sidney’s library opens new chapter after $2M refit

Library reopens after 8 months boasting improved systems and accessibility

VIDEO: Fun without sun: Hundreds enjoy Family Fest on Victoria Day

Families enjoy activities in Veterans Memorial Park

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. sends 267 firefighters to help battle Alberta wildfires

Out of control fires have forced evacuations in the province

LETTER: Fletcher ‘blurs reality’ on B.C. union public construction

Bridge, highway projects awarded to companies, not unions

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Federal government funds millions to help B.C. police spot drugged driving

Many police departments have expressed wariness about using the only government-approved roadside test

Judge: Mississippi 6-week abortion ban ‘smacks of defiance’

The new law would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected

Oil companies, 24-cent gap between B.C., Alberta to be focus of gas price probe

Premier John Horgan called the spike in gas prices ‘alarming’

Motorcycle deaths spike 50% since 2017

Riders were most likely fatally crash on the weekends compared with the rest of the week

Most Read