Otter Co-op is a retail grocery and liquor store, fuel station and livestock feed supplier. As a co-op, it’s a different kind of business – it’s truly local. The profits flow back into the community. Each Co-op in Western Canada is independent, so it offers the products and services needed by the communities it serves. As a co-operative, they are owned by the community. They embed sustainability in the business by planning and investing for the long term, with the communities they serve and the environment in mind. Every Co-op was built on the idea of being truly local and the promise of staying that way. They support local because they’ve always been locally owned and operated. They’re your neighbours and are part of the economic development in their communities.
Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?
Answer: It’s so important for us to be local and support local. In terms of the products we sell, so much of what’s on our shelves is produced either in B.C. or elsewhere in Canada. It is our priority to source ingredients for our products locally first whenever possible. We label local products in three ways:
- Grown at Home. Local fruits and vegetables.
- Raised at Home. Local beef, pork, chicken and other proteins.
- Produced at Home. Local items or manufactured products.
We actually manufacture some local products – our feed is produced locally at both our Aldergrove Feed Mill and our Armstrong Feed Mill in the Okanagan. We carry many products including a lot of local brands – I estimate it’s about 20% of our inventory is products grown or made in B.C. We carry products from JD Farms in Langley, Krause Berry Farms in Langley, BC Buzz Honey from Langley, and coffee from Lion’s Bay Coffee Company as well as many Co-op Gold brand products made in Western Canada. In our liquor store, we carry products including many products from the Fraser Valley and the rest of B.C. We stock over 800 SKUs of BC Wine, including Bordertown Wines from Osoyoos, and Volcanic Hills from Kelowna. Our liquor store carries many products including a large variety of local spirits and beer, including Steamworks Beer in Vancouver, Ravens Brewing Co. in Abbotsford, Fraser Valley Cider from Langley, Old Yale Brewing in Chilliwack and spirits from Mad Laboratory Distilling in Vancouver.” Mad Laboratory even donated a bunch of sanitizer to us recently for our new sanitizing protocols for COVID-19.
We also buy services from local companies. We do our advertising with 107.1 Country, Star FM, JR Country, Langley Advance Times, The Abbotsford News and the Aldergrove Star. And we have Aldergrove Credit Union as our bank and they are also our partner for our community partnerships. We use Raimac Industries in Langley for our food equipment, and our Pump Servicing is from Western Oil Services. Our business phone service is from Servcomm Communications in Surrey. And we do most of our printing with local companies – Ultra Digital Printing & Signs in Langley, BJ Print Center, and Ampco Manufacturers in Coquitlam.
Question: What social and environmental practices are you proud of?
Answer: One of the things I love about us, is that our head office is right here in Aldergrove. So all the jobs we create are right here in the community. Also, because we’re a co-op, the share of profits that goes out each year to our members goes to members and guests right here in the community. The profits from our business literally flow right back to the community. We aim to be an excellent employer. We really support our team to grow, and grow with us. We have 500 people on our team, and we provide benefits to everyone who works more than 20 hours per week. We also have a tuition assistance program. If one of our team members is in high school and they graduate, we’ll give them 75 cents for every hour worked as a tuition to put towards college or university. For university students, we will pay for education and training if it will help them grow in their role in terms of professional development or career development.
We have an extensive program of charitable giving and support for community organizations. In 2019 alone we donated $270,000 to some great local charities including Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, BC Children’s Hospital. Some examples of our other charitable activities include our “Fuel Good Day” the 3rd Tuesday in September, where we donate a percentage of pump sales to several local charities. In 2020 we will support BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, Abbotsford Hospice Society, Langley Hospice Society and Mission Hospice Society. Every month we donate 100 cans of tuna to Tiny Kittens Rescue Society in Langley. We also donated a lot of food to local food banks. Since early April 2020 we’ve also been collecting funds at our tills to help support hospitals battling COVID-19 and are pleased to announce we raised $3,329.15 for our local hospitals (as of August 2020)! You can find more about all of our charitable donations and volunteer hours on our Do Some Good page.
On the environmental side, we’re very proud of our achievements. In 2016 we won an environmental leadership award from Langley Chamber. Of course we recycle everything we can and compost all our organic materials. In our feed division, we also monitor our light usage, recycle the feed, and reduce our waste as much as possible.
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It’s another #TeamTuesday! Meet Ciara, Grocery Manager at our Parallel Food Store & Pharmacy in East Abbotsford. Ciara joined Otter with over 8 years of retail experience, including management. In her spare time she likes to attend Vancouver Whitecap games, camp in the great outdoors and visit craft breweries. Ciara is looking forward to building her skills and knowledge with our Parallel Grocery Team.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Favourite Co-op product: Sour Gummy Mix 🍬