Some changes are coming to the Prairie Sky Coop Food Store, with renovations in the works to provide much-needed upgrades, energy-efficiency, and an overall better customer experience.

"The biggest reason is just to upgrade the the equipment and the interior of the store," said General Manager Kevin Arthur. "Our refrigeration equipment in particular is quite a bit older and we want to put in more reliable and more energy efficient refrigeration equipment. That's a big part of it, but then a lot of other things customers will  see, like flooring, and store fixtures and the other equipment, and the Pharmacy." 

The Pharmacy, he said, will be moving to the west wall, between where it is currently located and the meat shop. 

"It's going to be larger and have a prescription drop off and pickup and more room," he explained. "Our pharmacy business has grown so much over the years and it's very tight working quarters back there and this will be more room for that and more privacy for our customers with the pick up of prescriptions, etc."

Arthur said while the Pharmacy is moving, and the entire store is going to be part of renovation with new flooring and decor, there won't be any drastic changes to the bakery and deli, produce, or meat departments. It's simply newer, better equipment.

For example, one of their ovens is 50 years old.

"We have another oven that's less than five years old, but there is an oven back there that's in that 50-year age range and it's time to be replaced and it'll probably take up about a third of the space as the existing unit," he noted. 

He said they are going to do their very best to have limited disruption for their customers and remain open throughout the renovation, however, there could be a period of time when bread won't be baking as they complete that oven replacement. 

"But we plan to be open throughout as much as possible and even do work in the evenings, and sections of flooring, those types of things, to make it better for our customers."

Arthur said they have hired an architect to plan the project, which will go to tender in June, and an announcement of the tender award is planned for July. 

"Once the tendering process has been completed, because the pharmacy is moving, we're going to build as much of the new part first while operating out of the old part and then be able to switch into the new part while we tear down the old part, so that we don't disrupt our customers," he explained. "The pharmacy is a necessity, it must be running. So we'll do everything we can to have that run."

He said the project has been planned for quite a long time. 

"Then the addition of liquor was kind of a new thing that came along, so we worked that into the plans and did that first. But this has been discussed for a number of years and is frankly kind of overdue to be done."

The liquor store has been a much more profitable use of space, he shared, than the cafeteria space.

"We appreciate our customers' patience in advance because this will be a disruptive process as we go through it, but in the end, we're going to have a modern store that's energy efficient and they'll be able to offer our customers modern things that they deserve."