For the new owners of Foodland, Vankleek Hill felt like home before they even arrived.

Working for Sobey’s near their small hometown of Goderich, Ontario, Justin and Sherry Phelan researched Vankleek Hill when the opportunity to take over the franchise presented itself. What they learned quickly led them to put in an application to take over the store.

“We did some research and everything we saw was very similar to the towns we grew up in – it really felt like home to us already,” recalls Justin, who had just graduated from Sobey’s ‘Franchisee in Training’ program. “We’re from a farming community too and we felt that we would be really comfortable here.”

The parents of two young children moved to Vankleek Hill this past June. At the beginning of August they finalized the purchase of the local Foodland store. Since then, the Phelans have learned just how friendly the community of Vankleek Hill can be.

“Everybody has been so welcoming,” Justin enthuses, noting the store’s management has been facilitated by the experienced staff the new owners inherited. “The staff has made it easy on us – they’ve just been great.”

While it has been a bit difficult to get to know people as well as they would like, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Phelans are looking forward to meeting more of their customers and neighbors as they settle in to Vankleek Hill life.

“Everybody’s got their masks on and it’s hard sometimes to recognize who’s who, but we are always happy if anyone wants to talk to us when they are in the store,” Justin says, of getting to know his customers. “We have met a lot of nice people on the way.”