Dean Gaudry

Greenrock Liquor Store

The Greenest LRS in the West – When longtime publican Dean Gaudry built his new 8,700 sq.ft. Nanaimo liquor store, he did so with an eye to the future. Dean, who is a fourth-generation publican, had long operated the liquor store attached to his Windward Pub, but when the rules changed to allow stores to exist independently of a pub, Dean started making plans. He saw that newer, bigger stores were all setting up in highly travelled areas, like supermarket parking lots. “They were doing huge volumes and we were struggling to maintain marketshare,” he recalls. At the same time, small operators like him were getting the chill from reps, who preferred to devote their resources to those large stores with their equally large sales.

Not only did Dean want to up his game, he wanted to build the greenest store he possibly could. He called up Jack Anderson of Anderson Greenplan, and the two of them set to work.

Designed to slash energy costs, Dean’s new LRS used insulated concrete form construction, where concrete was poured between double foam walls. The floors were capped with concrete too, holding the heat inside the building during the day and cooling down at night so that the structure is never over or under-heated. A vaulted ceiling allows heat to rise and be shunted out the windows at the top. Opening a basement window creates a natural thermal siphon, with cool air being pulled in and warm air being let out.

The high windows also admit daylight, eliminating the need for interior lighting except on dark days or in the evenings. Dean is saving vast amounts on his utilities as a result. “The old store measured 1,678 sq. ft. and the hydro bill was $1,000 a month, or about $5.99 per sq. ft. per year, whereas the new building is averaging $2.20 per sq. ft.” describes Dean. That is pretty significant savings, and much of it is due to the R35 insulation. Dean is realizing even greater savings from the R80 insulation around the large coolers.

Dean wanted to make his new LRS as green as economic feasibility allowed, with plans to add more green features as time goes on. Jack, whose business is all about building sustainably no matter what the scale, built the structure to ensure green principles can be integrated as Dean’s budget allows. For example, standing column wells have been drilled for a shift to geothermal heating in the event of soaring hydro costs, and the roof pitches have been designed specifically for the addition of photovoltaic panels to harness solar energy.

Always civic-minded and inspired to care for his local community, Dean designed a 1,000 sq. ft. community room that is available free of charge to local groups and societies. Over time, this area will also provide space for the Greenrock’s own wine club and cooking classes.

What really differentiates his LRS from the competition, according to Dean, is the selection of local and craft beers (about 200 at last count), which reflects his support of other independent local businesses. “It’s getting harder for independent businesses to succeed,” he shares, “and this is a niche that is ideal for one independent business to support others.”

The Greenrock’s well-informed, engaged staff makes the place a standout too. The day I spoke with him, Dean was preparing for the next day’s staff tour of a handful of Cowichan Valley wineries. “We’re focused on the idea that everyone on our staff is building their knowledge about wine, beer, and ciders,” he says, noting that they also bring in brewmasters once a week to educate staff. Dean says his staff’s loyalty results from slightly higher wages, extended medical and dental, and management’s support of employees’ engagements outside of work.

Five years after first making the decision to build a new store, Dean opened Greenrock’s doors. “We’re almost one year into the new location,” he explains, “and indeed, it was the right move. We’ve managed to be profitable every month and our volume is double what it was.” Despite his irritation with constantly shifting provincial legislation and oft-reversed zoning decisions from the city, Dean has been able to seize his dream – and secure a brighter future for his business and his family. Content in the present, he’s gearing up for the next challenge – because he’s been in the business long enough to know there’s always something coming over the horizon.