Congratulations to Pierre Menard, Real Deslauriers and their team at La Boite à Grains in Gatineau, QC on reaching the 30-year milestone. Pierre was one of the original partners when the doors opened in early march 1980. Industry friends, family and customers joined Pierre and his team on November 30 to mark the anniversary.
One of the major reasons La Boite à Grains has continued to grow over the three decades has been Pierre's willingness to change when needed, and grow when the opportunity presents itself. For example, the original store in the Hull area of Gatineau has had some physical changes over the years, including a major overhaul recently. Even the second La Boite à Grains store, which opened in 2005, didn't escape Pierre's scrutinizing. It recently underwent a little re-vamp to improve the customer flow within the store.
Pierre is encouraged with the way the natural health industry in Quebec has changed over the years, and how things are developing for the future. "The major change I see in recent times is the younger crowd (ages 20 to 35) coming into the store. There has been a mini-baby boom in Quebec the past seven or eight years, so we're getting lots of young families. But we're also getting many single people. Ten years ago, this segment represented about 10 per cent of our business. Today, this age group makes up about 22 per cent of our customer base."
Pierre is confident the hard work of himself and other long-time industry people has contributed greatly to the current growth and interest in the natural health sector. "The words we know and promote – organic, fair trade, buying local, ecological, biodegradable, low foot print on the environment – these are more than words to this group of young people. They don't just know them... they live them. It has become a part of their value system. They really get it and believe in it like we first did 30 years ago ...and this is great news for our planet and our business." •
La Boite à Grains is just one of the many health foods stores in the Ottawa region which is creating news. In the March-April issue of CNHR, we'll be reporting on the changes, expansions and innovations of retailers on both sides of the Ottawa River, including an expanded feature on La Boite à Grains. •