How it all started with

Shoppers Foods

Shoppers Foods Wholesale has seen a lot of changes during our 45 years in business serving Prince George & area.

Recently purchased by the Copperside Foods company in 2020, Shoppers Foods Wholesale will continue operations to serve as they always have. So while the ownership has changed our long time employees and commitment to our customers will continue on.

Scroll down below for a blast from the past in Shoppers history.

"Best cafe in London. Ever!”

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Peter Johnson, Chef
Going back in time with a P.G. PEOPLE PUBLICATIONS story from


Story by Leonard Frazer - Photo By Tim Swanky

It' s not just another letter in the alphabet! It's a huge, stylized "G" with speed bars. At night­ time the full logo, Mr. G, rivals the moon. But what does it mean? Mr. G is the name of a convenience store chain that is currently thriving on its own multi­purpose concept -Groceries, Gas, On the Go. The men behind that concept are Bill Sherba and
Larry Hyette, long time residents and businessmen in Prince George.

From the simple comer grocery to the complex office-warehouse with comput­ers accounting for over 30 stores-this is the Hyette-Sherba story.

Larry Hyette started out working for High-Low Foods and then Shop Easy in Vancouver. When he left Vancouver in 1965 he held the position of store manager at the Grandview & Edmonds store. He moved to Prince George and began his new job with Westons Foods as a commission salesman selling cookies and candy to stores in the area. When Larry arrived, he was met by Mike Kowaluk, who was a former sales representative for Westons. Kowaluk was kind enough to introduce Larry to the territory and, soon after, to Bill Sherba. Bill was working for W. H. Mallcins, also as a salesman, and they first became friends at this time.

Bill Sherba had arrived in Prince George from Vernon in 1954. Soon after, he married and, today, Bill and his wife Anne have three grown daughters. Bill had worked previously for Slade and Stewart for three years, and spent the next 11 years working for W. H. Malkins in the wholesale department.

In 1968, the Sherbas leased the Royal Produce store on 17th A venue and renamed it Better Buy Market. Larry helped Bill and Anne with the renovating and setting up of the store. Larry was involved with the retail end of the business. One and a half years later the Sherba's decided to expand. "An opportunity came up to take a new location," recalled Hyette. "Bill approached me and wanted me to become a partner. He couldn't handle two stores, so this is how we started a partnership, some 18 to 19 years ago." The new store was on 20th Avenue and named Shopper's Delight. "I ran that one," continued Hyette, "and Bill ran his Better Buy Market. We were now 50-50 partners in Shopper's Delight.”

In 1970 another Oportunity arrived for further expansion. A local developer, the same company that had constructed the Shopper's Delight building, was approached about developing property on Austin Road, up the Hart Highway. A new 10,000 square foot store was eventually built and named Shoppers Food Mart. Sherba refers to this business as a "mini-supermarket". "We had a full meat department out there. We had butchers working for us, and a full produce department. It was definitely a family shopping store. It was not a convenience store, although it had 'convenience' hours. Wedidbigbusiness out there in those days," he remembered. The year was 1971, and Larry went to the Hart Highway to run the new store, and Bill ran Shopper's Delight.

After about 18 months they opened another Shoppers Food Mart at 1st Avenue and Tabor Boulevard. Bill then decided to sell his Better Buy Market. "We went with the change of time," says Sherba. "When we went into stores we would brighten them up. We cleaned them up, and kept up with the times. As a matter of fact, at our third store, after one year in business, we had spent $75,000 in renovations." With further expansion the following year, they opened yet another store at the foot of Peden Hill. This was a gas station and grocery store, formerly known as Westway Food Market.

When the name of the Shopper's Delight store was changed to Shoppers Food Mart, that made a total of four. The old Parkridge Heights grocery store, owned by Lloyd Dutton, became store No. 5. Don Watt and Luke Bachand took over stores No. 4 and No. 5, each as a franchise. Larry Hyette explains the next phase in the Shoppers Food Mart expansion: ''Then we needed a centrally located warehouse, along with our five stores, to qualify to be a wholesaler." (Even then they wouldn't get instant wholesale status.) "We had to go to Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver and meet with all the sales managers and vice-presidents of these companies (Kellogg's, Heinz, Kraft Foods, etc.) and try to convince them why we should become a wholesaler." With their new warehouse on Nicholson Street and their five Shoppers Food Marts, Bill and Larry worked for two and a half years, slowly winning over most of the companies. After four years they were dealing direct with hundreds of companies.

Today they have all national companies represented in their wholesale company. "This is the distributing centre," explained Hyette, referring to their warehouse, still located on Nicholson Street. "With computerization and an efficient staff of 40 plus, things seem to run fairly smooth. All our advertising concepts are done locally, and the distri­bution of all our products to our stores are shipped via our own trucking system." Bill expands on the warehouse operation: "We had the right equipment [forklifts and electpc pallet movers] from day one, to make the operation efficient." There are over 6,000 different items in the warehouse. "Then we went on computer [eight years ago] which really streamlined the business.”

In the office portion of the warehouse there is a master computer with seven printers, and 18 monitors throughout the building. "Mr. G" stores, formerly known as AM/PM, first came into the picture in February of 1984. Bill Sherba comments, ''We could see the new market trend coming for 24-hour stores. We had always been seven-day operators and we could see that the future of our company was definitely in 24-hour convenience stores.

“There will always be a good market for well run convenience stores in any time period because of their concept. Not everybody wants to run into a supermar­ket to buy a quart of milk or a package of cigarettes, mainly because of the time factor." Today there are nine Mr. G conven­ience stores in Prince George. All locations have 24-hour gas bars, and two have car wash facilities. "Our object in the Mr. G stores is to offer the finest convenience outlets available," explains Hyette. ''When I say finest, I mean the cleanest, the brightest, [with] the best concept-from the fairest prices to 24-hour friendly service -we are what convenience is all about. And this is what our slogan is -'Mr. G, what convenience is all about!”'

Bill Sherba admits that there was a certain amount of initial brainstonning in the development of the Mr. G concept, but that "most of these things just fell into place." Both Bill and Larry work at all levels of the business today, from sharing the coffee break with the office crew to planning and drafting the preliminary layout and design of a proposed new Mr. G store. Today they are more than "owner operators" with a job to do. They are directors of a corporation.

"We train. We have our own supervisors that work out of our head office," explains Hyette. "And we promote within our company. People with us are trained for management positions. We promote from within. We like to encourage our own people. The ones who are enthusiastic, alert and aggressive - they become our future managers." Hyette and Sherba's company is also very supportive of local Prince George community groups including little league teams, minor hockey, Lions and Kinsmen clubs, and local functions. And Mr. G stores are the official sponsor of the annual Heart Foundation's 5 km run, from its conception.

Today, on four local radio stations, the new Mr. G jingle is aired each week. Thousands of grocery flyers are also sent out weekly to the towns that have Shoppers Food Marts represented, offering the same competitive specials as the majors do. "We feel we offer each of the communities where we're situated a very competitive second choice for grocery shopping," commented Hyette, "and has been proven by the fine patronage our company has enjoyed over the years." When Sherba and Hyette were asked about the success of their partnership, and what the future holds for their stores now that ''you're at the end of the '80s," Bill replied, "We've only yet begun." "Considering that we started as two salesmen," offered Larry, "I would say that we've built a pretty impressive · operation. I think our future will be even more exciting with Mr. G. “

We like to think that we're the cadillac of convenience stores. [For the future I see] lots more Mr. Gs, but out of town, and perhaps a move to franchising future locations. We already have properties in Dawson Creek, Mackenzie, and Quesnel. "We wanted to build a solid base in Prince George because this is where our home is. This is where our wholesale operation is. This is where we started!"

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We are located next to Green House Club.
60 Chalton St, London 
NW1 1HS, United Kingdom

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Call us+32 200 3023 11