Pete's Frootique: No ordinary grocer

09/03/2013 08:49:00 AM
Pamela Riemenschneider

click image to zoompetePamela RiemenschneiderPete's Frootique has expanded from its original Bedford, Nova Scotia, location to two more retail outlets, plus a sandwich bar in Halifax. The retailer remains one of the few independents in Nova Scotia by focusing on fresh produce and a unique center store assortment.HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – Spending an entire day looking at one retailer’s banners might seem like a lesson in repetition, but that’s hardly what you get from Pete’s Frootique.

One day at Pete’s is a retail tour in itself.

I met with Dwayne Buttler, director of produce operations, in downtown Halifax in late July, expecting a stop at the company’s newest store in Wolfville, and maybe lunch at founder Pete Luckett’s winery and farm nearby.

To get the full experience, I have to see them all, Buttler says.

Luckett opened his first store in 1981, the lone independent up against Canada’s two largest chains, Loblaws and Sobeys. While the two major chains continued to grow, independents did not.

“They wiped out any infrastructure to support independents,” Luckett says, “and for that reason there are no independents surviving in the Maritimes.”

Pete’s stays out of the world of commodity grocery, Luckett says.

“It forces our hand in a way to be what we are, and that’s totally unique, specialized, ethnic and unusual,” he says. “We have a different style of merchandising, a different look. It’s all about the atmosphere. We’ve won the hearts of many shoppers just by the level of delivery.”

Produce is key in Pete’s differentiation, Buttler says. Pete’s carried items no other retailer in Nova Scotia would stock, from rare and exotic tropicals and specialties to international favorites. You won’t find many mainline items at Pete’s.

“We started bringing in things like jumbo papayas and ataulfo mangoes — things you wouldn’t find anywhere in Nova Scotia,” Buttler says. “We were the first to have mangoes all year long.”

Pete’s found loyal customers in international and adventurous shoppers, Buttler says.

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Chris Yli-Luoma    
Vancovuer, BC  |  September, 05, 2013 at 12:54 PM

It is delightful that retailers like Pete's Nova Scotia manage to still make a go at it. It is great to come in and see stores that aren't based on a cookie cutter pattern and where the staff wants to talk to you. And I love the phone booth in the field where you can make a call - if you still remember how to dial a phone. Here is a link to my photos Great piece Pamela - thanks for pulling it together.

Greg R    
Ottawa  |  September, 12, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Product looks fresh but the displays lack imagination and finese, anybody can place an exotic box of fruit on a table, round baskets and wood shavings would really dress things up. The counter looks like a roller coaster.

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