When Brianne Hunt walked into the Dominion Cabot Square Market on Stavanger Drive to buy two weeks’ worth of groceries for her family on Wednesday afternoon, she had no idea she’d be walking out with $250 worth of free groceries in her cart.
“It’s huge,” says the mother of one from St. John’s. “Groceries are so expensive, so this is a huge bill off my shoulders right now. This was $300 worth of food that I only had to pay $50 for. It’s amazing.”
Hunt was one of several dozen customers fortunate enough to be in the store for the Market Moments, a national program the parent company Loblaws started in 2014 as a way of treating its customers and thanking them for their patronage.
“It’s a full campaign that offers discounted merchandise, free giveaways in store, little popup events that we have and, of course, the granddaddy of them all is the actual Market Moment celebration, which we had today,” explains store manager Chris Bailey.
“It’s a big deal for us because we have a lot of loyal customers that come in every day and every week, so as part of a big thank you to them, we offer up to $250 worth of groceries.”
It was an even bigger deal for the customers, such as Leah Gruchy, who was shopping on Wednesday with her seven-month old daughter, Charlotte.
When she was approached by staff who suggested it would be worth her while to head toward the front of the store at 2:30 p.m. and saw non-alcoholic champagne being poured into glasses, she knew something was up and figured it was a discount of some sort.
“I didn’t expect a cart full of free groceries, so that’s awesome,” says Gruchy, who lives 12 minutes away in Flatrock and is a regular at the Stavanger Drive store.
“It means a lot, actually, because right now I’m on maternity leave, so obviously the income is not what you’re used to it being, so it’s a really nice bonus to have that little bit extra.”
Anthony Rowsell of Mount Pearl, who works on Highland Drive in the city’s east end and was stopping in for groceries on his way home, thought it was a security issue after staff made a subtle suggestion to head for the checkouts.
“I was pretty surprised. I’m pretty chill about everything, but that was a nice little treat,” says Rowsell, adding that he is thankful for the savings in a year in which he is planning his wedding.
Participating stores are selected at random and previous Market Moments have occurred in St. John’s on three occasions: Pearlgate Plaza in 2015 and Blackmarsh Road in 2016 and again last year.
“It’s a real honour to have it at your store,” says Bailey. “Not everybody has it every year, so when you get it, it’s a big deal for your store.”
Bailey was part of the 2016 event at the Blackmarsh Road store and says it’s a rewarding experience to see the impact of the cost savings and the customer appreciation.
“You’re not only giving people free groceries, you’re making a difference in their lives when it comes down to it and that’s huge.
“Two hundred and fifty dollars can go a long way in a food basket. It can really make the difference between someone having a good month and a bad month. That part is a big deal.”
After all was said and done, customers were awarded just over $10,000 in free groceries.