Embarking on adventure
In 1982, Ken Schley, John Briuolo and Noel Hayward of Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, set out with the ambition to build a better grocery shopping experience for their community, and established Qualicum Foods where they lived, played, and were raising families. It was a grocery store unique to the people and interests of Qualicum Beach. They cite the biggest impact in the early days that drove their vision, was first, ensuring the customers’ shopping experience was consistently unique and positive, and second, getting deeply involved with their community.
Outside Qualicum Beach, development of new stores grew exponentially over the years, starting in Parksville, BC with the first Quality Foods– or ‘QF’ as the independent chain became known – and expanded to 12 more locations in Nanaimo, Nanoose Bay, Comox, Courtenay, Port Alberni, Chemainus, Campbell River, Powell River, and Victoria. With over 1200 employees to date, QF became one of the largest independent employers on Vancouver Island.
While at the helm of QF, the owners celebrated these communities by creating unifying family-style events. Extraordinary “Festival of Lights” firework displays are still the highlight of Qualicum Beach May Family Day Long Weekend, Canada Day in Campbell River, Nanaimo’s Annual Bathtub Race, BC Day in Comox, Parksville’s Beach Festival, and the Blackberry and Salmon Festivals in Powell River and Port Alberni.
Every year, master sand sculptors travel from all corners of the globe to participate in the internationally-known Sandsculpting Competition and Exhibition at the Parksville Beach Festival. This world class event for Master Sand Sculptors and is an official qualifying event for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting.
Tens of thousands of visitors from all over North America flock to the famous Qualicum Beach Seaside Show ‘N Shine classic car show held Father’s Day Weekend every year, and 2019 marks the 28th anniversary of Nanoose Bay’s Teddy Bear Picnic and Parade – a tradition for generations. These events are recognized by the Kelland Ventures Ownership Group as some of their most rewarding accomplishments.
Leaders in innovation, QF was the first grocer in Canada to offer a reward points program. The ‘Q-Card’ was introduced in 1991, and since then most major grocers have followed with their own programs. ‘My Daily Special’ was created to put emphasis on customer choice being a priority; what products were most important to the customer on the day most convenient for them. As an early adopter to grocery technology, QF developed its own proprietary point-of-sale automation that revolutionized the customer experience in speed, accuracy, and detail, and in 1997 QF was the first grocery store to offer a full online shopping experience. And to contribute to environmental awareness, QF was one of the first grocers to donate proceeds of its in-store reusable grocery bags to local charities. One of the most notable and visible differences between QF and other grocery stores has always been ‘the upstairs.’ Select stores were designed with a high-end home décor retail spaces called “A Step Above”, that specialized in kitchen, living, and bath products. These unique spaces also provided licensed dining options – unheard of in the grocery industry and still unique to QF.
After 35 years of community commitment and growing an extraordinary business, the owners sold Quality Foods to BC’s own Jim Pattison Group in 2017. Mr. Hayward was retained as President, Quality Foods, continuing the legacy established by the founding group and ensuring Quality Foods remains a community staple for thousands of British Columbians.