Sales at Sunripe in Sarnia were up 17% last year. Owner Will Willemsen is seeing a trend which is key in his decision to spend more than a million dollars adding 12,000 square feet to his Murphy and Lakeshore Road store.
The expansion will include a commercial kitchen, a smoker for fish, turkey and pork, and sushi, guacamole and salsa bars that will enlarge the store to 30,500 square feet. “You’d be surprised how many people get prepared meals, plain simple healthy meals that they can take home and heat up,” says Willemsen who plans to hire 20 people boosting employment at the Sarnia store to 105.
The expansion will be to the west circling around the Royal Bank to include space for the Blossom Boutique, The Shoe Gallery and The Co-operators Insurance. A small plaza that currently houses the three tenants will be demolished to be replaced by new parking and landscaping with additional staff parking in the rear.
Construction will begin in the Spring with completion by Christmas.
In addition to Sarnia, Willemsen and his wife Ingrid own two stores in London.
They gross nearly $30 million with rising sales driven by demand for prepared foods.
Willemsen opened Sunripe on the north side of Lakeshore in 1982. In 2010, he built a new store on the southwest corner, later purchasing an adjacent plaza leading to his latest expansion.