At the Centre of a Caring Community
No wonder so many people are happy to shop at Andress’ Your Independent Grocer. At 25 Ferrara Drive in Smiths Falls, the service is always excellent, the selection is great, and the variety of on-site offerings—from a pharmacy to a seafood department to a garden centre—make it easy to get all the items on your list in one place.
But it’s the people here who really make the difference. They care about this community and it shows. In fact owner/operator Dan Andress is a local leader who grew up in Smiths Falls. He loves this town, he’s proud to be here, and he’s committed to supporting local causes, including the Build a Mountain of Food Campaign and the Smiths Falls Community Food Bank. “I enjoy contributing and being part of this community,” he explains.
Born in Brockville, Dan moved to Smiths Falls with his parents when he was just four years old. “Most of my life has been in Smiths Falls.”
Growing up, he got an early start in the grocery business. At age 12, he landed a job at a gas station and store just outside town on the Perth Highway. Long before he was old enough to get his driver’s license, he was pumping gas, cutting meat and stocking shelves.
Three years later, a neighbor of his aunt and uncle heard about Dan and his work experience. The neighbor worked at the local Loblaws store and he asked the teen if he’d like a part-time job there. He jumped at the chance. “That’s when my career really started with Loblaws. I was 15.”
Dan worked for 23 years at the Smiths Falls Loblaws, until the store closed in 1996. He worked his way up from pack boy to full-time grocery clerk on the night shift to night crew chief and finally to grocery manager.
After the store closed, he wasn’t out of a job. He stayed with the company, but had to travel for work. And boy did he travel. He was assistant manager of the Loblaws store on Isabella Street in Ottawa, general merchandise manager at the Ottawa South Keys location, assistant store manager at the Kingston Cataraqui store and then the Bridlewood store in Kanata. Finally, he spent three and a half years as store manager of the Brockville superstore.
In 2009, there was an opportunity to apply to take over the Your Independent Grocer franchise in Smiths Falls, his response was immediate: “In a heartbeat.”
“It was like a dream come true,” Dan recalls. “I’ve always loved Smiths Falls. And I’ve always had a taste for retail and groceries and food.”
The idea of getting to go home each night after work, without a long commute, was also quite appealing. “My wife was very happy.”
Dan and his wife Wanita are still very happy, and they’re delighted to welcome customers to their store at the corner of Ferrara Drive and Highway 15. “I love the size of the store,” Dan says. “It’s a 40,000 square-foot space and it pretty well offers everything a shopper would need or want. We really try to have a great selection. We offer gluten-free products, Natural Value products, and a lot of organic products. I knew there were people who had a need for these products so I brought them in.”
That helpful attitude and thoughtful approach are indicative of how Andress’ Your Independent Grocer operates. This is Smith Falls’ hometown, community grocery store. The people who run the business and who work here are your friends and neighbours; they have time for you and they take a personal interest in what you want and need.
Whether it’s a type of shellfish or a particular fruit or an ingredient people want to use in recipes, Dan says, “We’ll try our best to get it for them, no matter what it is. If it works for the community, we’re in.”
He’s excited to talk about all the store has to offer. “We have a fabulous salad bar and our produce is number one.” And as you push your cart through the baked goods section, you get to smell the delicious aroma of baking. “We have an in-store bakery and we still put our bread in the oven.”
Not only can custom cakes be made for any occasion, thanks to digital imaging technology any image can be put on your cake to make it one of a kind.
You can count on freshness at Andress’ YIG—from the fruits and vegetables to the breads and meats. “We still have meat cutters in our store—beef, pork, whatever it is, we can cut what you need; we can do that for you.” The deli carries world-class cheeses, Dan says, and top-quality delicatessen meats that can be sliced just the way you want them.
When you don’t have time to cook, the take-home meals department offers lots of delicious, economical options. From the tasty chicken dinner to the wonderful gourmet salads, you’ll find great value here.
Not only are all the popular Presidents Choice and No Name products offered, you’ll also appreciate the PC® Black Label Collection. This gourmet line offers the distinctive tastes and fine ingredients that will really make a recipe pop.
As for the store’s health and beauty department? “Bar none, it’s one of the best in Smiths Falls. It offers great value.” From the in-store pharmacy to the outdoor garden centre, Andress’ YIG offers something for everybody, along with a much-appreciated personal touch.
It’s the sort of place where people run into friends and stop to chat. After all, Dan often knows people who come through the doors. “We went to school together or played ball together or our kids went to school together.”
Now aged 58, Dan and Wanita are grandparents of four. Married for 23 years this July 31, Dan and Wanita have a big, blended family. He has four daughters, she has three sons and they’re all educated and established with their own growing families.
The YIG employees are also like family. “I grew up with most of the people who work in the store. They’re tremendous people. Lots of these people donate their time for the causes we support. They all really care about what we’re doing here.”
Dan speaks just as highly about the people of the Smiths Falls area. “Everybody here really contributes their hard-earned money for many things.” The number of food bank items collected in the store ranks it as one of the top 200 stores across Canada. “Smiths Falls people are unbelievable in how they contribute to different causes. They’re just wonderful, generous people.
“Because of them, I want to give back.”
He certainly does. Last year, the store had contributed 17,000 pounds of food and customers purchased 811 $10 bags of food valued at $24 weighing 18 lbs each to the food bank. Through the President’s Choice® Children’s Charity, families have been helped with items such as an elevator or accessible transportation to better manage life challenges. Gift cards have been provided to 11 area schools for their Breakfast for Learning nutrition programs.
And whether it’s the Canadian Cancer Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ALS or Alzheimer fundraisers, “I’ve never ever turned down something or someone in need,” Dan says. “We do the best we can to help, either in big ways or small ones.”
Certainly, the support and generosity of this community makes all the difference. “We wouldn’t be what we are today without our shoppers,” Dan points out.