THIS BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT SHINES ON
Brought to you by these community-minded organizations because they recognize that
good business is good for everyone:
Alycia Simmons and Darcy Bullock are all about community. The pair recently assumed ownership of the Your Independent Grocer store on Howland Drive after long-time franchisees Tracy and Randy Robinson retired in September after 21 years.
Both grew up in small towns – Alycia in Ingersoll, Darcy in Beaverton – and understand how important it is for businesses to support the local community.
“We are going to continue to do all of the community stuff, that’s big for us,” says Darcy. “We have a vessel that we can do a lot to help people with. That’s top of our list and I think that’s why it’s going to be a nice transition – we feel the same about the community as Randy and Tracy did.”
That sentiment extends to their staff and customers.
“We were nervous coming in because (the staff) have been with Randy for 20 years. How are they going to feel about new people?” says Alycia. “And they’ve been absolutely amazing. It’s been so smooth.”
“They’ve just been fantastic,” adds Darcy. “They are so knowledgeable, they’re so good with customers, we can’t say enough about how great they’ve been. We’re about the customer and without the staff we’re never going to take care of the customer. That’s my philosophy – if the staff aren’t happy and enjoying themselves and have pride in their work, then they won’t take care of the customers.”
Darcy and Alycia were excited to take over such a well-established store, particularly because Huntsville was their first choice but they weren’t sure they would ever have the chance to come here.
“We’ve been waiting for an opportunity to apply to come up to one of the franchises in the northern area and Huntsville was the top of our list,” says Darcy. He’s been in the business since he was 14, went to school at University of Ottawa and then decided there was a career to be had in the grocery business. He headed for Toronto, and later Ingersoll where he met Alycia – she started working for Loblaws when she was 18 – and then back to Toronto where the pair had a Valu-Mart franchise. “We were never meant for Toronto. It’s a great city, it’s just not for us.”
Alycia recalls a conference where Randy received an award. “Darcy leaned over and said, ‘He’s never going to retire. Look at him. He’s in such good shape.'”
“And I told him that,” laughs Darcy. “And then six months later he and Tracy decided to retire so we jumped all over it and luckily (Loblaws) allowed us to take over the business. They did such a good job over the years. We were excited to come into such a well-run store and try to make it better any way we can.”
They have made some changes so far and have plans for others, including some new fixtures, new products and “some good prices out around the perimeter of the store.”
They also have plans for future events, the first of which is this Friday, October 27 from 4-6 p.m. – a pumpkin giveaway. “We’ll be giving pumpkins away to kids, we’ll have music playing, and we’re going to have some specials (like 99-cent bread and chickens for 99 cents a pound) to create some excitement,” says Darcy. “We’ve got some exciting things coming in down the road, new programs. I think it’s going to be good.”
And Alycia and Darcy want the Huntsville community to know that they are here to stay. “We plan to be here our whole lives and have a family in the community,” says Darcy. “We want to do what we can to help. I’ve been telling people, if you can dream something up, let us know and maybe we can help do it. We have a pretty powerful vessel here to raise funds or make a difference and we want to be part of that in the community.”