Jacqueline Hunt-Cornock was in line at Trevor’s Your Independent Grocer on Wednesday afternoon with about $160 worth of groceries when her cashier told her to wait.
Looking around, she could see balloons, speakers and store workers with tubes of confetti.
Store owner Trevor Bayer stepped up for an announcement just after 4 p.m. that the store would cover grocery purchases for the 50 people standing in line at that moment. He ended up paying for about $5,000 worth of groceries.
“We know where our paycheques come from and we’re more than happy to execute this program and pay for everyone’s groceries,” Bayer recalled saying to the store’s customers in an interview the next day.
The program he refers to is a national Loblaws customer-appreciation promotion called Market Moments, where participating stores across the country surprise shoppers with grocery giveaways.
“At first I thought it was a joke, that I was being punked – everyone’s jaw dropped,” Hunt-Cornock said.
Behind her in line were people with toddlers buying diapers, formula and food.
“I was shocked. I was in awe. I’m very grateful for what he did today and I’m really touched,” she said.
She said saving about $160 on the cost of groceries means a lot to her.
“My boyfriend has a young son and groceries are really expensive up here in the North. Even though $160 isn’t a lot of groceries, it’s wonderful that he paid for that,” she said, referring to store owner Bayer.
Bayer said he kept the exact day and time the giveaway would happen a secret even from his staff.
“It’s totally random,” he said. “Catching people by surprise like that, as a retailer that’s part of what I do,” he said. “We want to surprise and delight people.”
Hunt-Cornock said she’s not associated with the store, describing herself as a random customer.
The uptown Independent grocery store last gave away groceries the morning of Oct. 22, he said.