New retailers plan to offer student jobs

Grocery Checkout, Drug Smart pharmacy are moving into the vacant Queen’s Centre space

An artist’s rendering of Grocery Checkout’s layout in the Queen’s Centre.
An artist’s rendering of Grocery Checkout’s layout in the Queen’s Centre.
A grocery store and pharmacy began construction in the vacant Queen’s Centre space in January.
A grocery store and pharmacy began construction in the vacant Queen’s Centre space in January.

Construction has started on Grocery Checkout and Drug Smart pharmacy in the Queen’s Centre. The retailers are set to open on March 1.

Nathan Felder is the chief executive officer of Grocery Checkout, a grocery store that opened its first and only other location at the University of Western Ontario.

Felder said he was first approached by current AMS Vice-President of Operations Ashley Eagan when she visited Western two summers ago.

“She asked if bringing the grocery store to Queen’s was a viable option and we said yes,” Felder said.

Construction in the Queen’s Centre is going well so the grocery store could be sooner than expected, Felder said.

“We might actually be closer to opening the first week of February, so we’ll see. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Felder said Grocery Checkout differs from larger grocery companies because he works with local suppliers.

“About 18 suppliers are interested as of right now, and I think they’re the best in Kingston,” he said. “Obviously in the winter, we won’t have as much locally grown foods as in the summer just because of growing restrictions.”

Felder added that the local focus is Grocery Checkout’s biggest strength.

“For example, if we carry chips, they will be from Canadian suppliers and smaller suppliers, they won’t be a mass-produced product,” he said.

He also said students can expect fair pricing from the grocery store.

“As far as seeing a good product at a good value, students will see that our pricing is probably the same if not less than Metro,” he said.

Felder said Grocery Checkout will be looking for 16 to 17 student employees when hiring begins next week.

“We love hiring students and it’s worked out great for us in the past. They’re very bright, very unemployed and have a lot to offer,” he said.

Grocery Checkout is also looking to bring a delivery service to Queen’s.

“We started it at Western and it’s done well. We’re still looking at that here, but we’ll probably be launching that in September of next year,” Felder said.

When the current AMS executive ran for election last year, they campaigned to bring a pharmacy to campus as well as the grocery store.

Irfan Jetha, one of the people who runs Drug Smart pharmacy, said it’s a family business.

“We run independent pharmacies. My dad’s a pharmacist and so am I. He opened the first pharmacy in 1980 in a small town near Peterborough,” he said.

Jetha said it’s important to Drug Smart pharmacy to keep in line with the AMS’s initiative on healthy living.

“No chips, no chocolate bars – that’s perfectly fine with us. Concentrating on a healthy lifestyle is important and that is something we can contribute,” he said.

Specific things that Drug Smart will be carrying include health supplements, a variety of sports aids and braces, vitamin and nutritional supplements, condoms and other family planning products, prescription medications, over-the-counter-medications and feminine hygiene products.

“Our products complement our surroundings with the athletic centre,” he said.

Jetha added that what makes Drug Smart pharmacy different to larger chain stores like Shoppers is their ability to adapt.

“We can tailor our services to the student clientele, which our competitors can’t seem to do,” he said.

He also said the pharmacy will be hiring up to 10 student employees.

“The hiring process would be from the middle of February to the end. Ideally, we’re looking for pharmacy experience, but our number one goal is good customer service,” he said.

Jetha added that the pharmacy will be able to provide unique services to students that will help in their daily lives.

“We can do specific clinics, like nutrition clinics, smoking clinics or diabetes clinics. We have a certified diabetes educator on staff that can come in and do tailored counselling for patients,” he said.

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