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Success: Set to retire, Battistelli looks back on remarkable career

The Lively Your Independent Grocer is not only award-winning, but much loved in the community, and it’s all thanks to the personality and approach of retiring owner Brent Battistelli
Brent Battistelli started working at a grocery store when he was 14. Battistellis' Your Independent Grocer in Lively is considered one of the best supermarkets of its size in Canada.

Battistellis' Your Independent Grocer in Lively is a supermarket that has replicated the friendliness of a neighbourhood grocery store.

There's no need to rush. Enjoy a conversation with a friend or two while selecting produce. Pick up dry cleaning, check out the community billboard or buy a lottery ticket. 

Battistellis' Your Independent Grocer in Lively is considered one of the best supermarkets of its size in Canada. It has won numerous industry honours including the national Independent Grocer of the Year Award in 2020. Image: Vicki Gilhula

Its genial appeal is thanks to the franchise owner Brent Battistelli and the staff, many of whom have been serving customers for as long as 30 years. 

Student part-timers are children of parents who also had their first jobs at the supermarket.

It's a place where everyone knows your name.

Battistellis' Your Independent Grocer is considered one of the best supermarkets of its size in Canada. It has won numerous industry honours including the national Independent Grocer of the Year Award in 2020.

"Your store is evaluated from the parking lot in. They (evaluators) talk to your customers and staff," said the soft-spoken owner.

Battistelli is proud of his store's reputation for customer service and satisfied he has continued the high standards taught by his father, Frank.

An Italian immigrant, Frank worked as an assistant store manager at Loblaws in Sudbury for many years before becoming a franchise owner in 1989. He is now 84 and happily retired.

At the age of 56, Battistelli is planning his own retirement in the new year having met many of his goals and tackling the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When you are running a business, the profit and losses are very important, but being in this community for 35 years, my own personal growth as an entrepreneur, and working alongside my dad in the beginning" are satisfying,” he said.

"The support we get back from the community in this market, when 70 per cent of customers work in the city (Sudbury) and have other opportunities to shop, to me that means success."

Battistelli was finishing a business and economics degree at the University of Ottawa when his father asked him if he was interested in investing in a Valu-Mart franchise in Lively.

Valu-Mart and Your Independent Grocers are part of National Grocers, a division of Loblaws

"We talked, and he asked if it was something I was interested in,” Battistelli said. “I came home and looked at the location. I had always worked in the grocery business since I was 14. The idea to get in at the ownership level was intriguing."

Father and son complemented each other. Frank, a people-person, knew the grocery trade. His son was fresh from business school with lots of new ideas.

In 1995, Battistellis' Valu-Mart relocated to a larger location across the street and became a Your Independent Grocer.

The store supports numerous sports teams and charities including the President’s Choice Children’s Charity. Battistelli's sister, Lisa, is the executive director of the national program that raises money to fight childhood hunger.

Committed to the community, Battistelli, who played in the OHL for the Peterborough Petes and Ottawa 67s, was a soccer and hockey coach for a number of years. 

He also ran the Battistelli Independent Grocer Hockey School that attracted young players from throughout Ontario.

Battistelli was a member of the Walden Economic Development Committee from 1998 to 2001 and a member of the Greater Sudbury Economic Development Board from 2014 to 2020.

He is serving his last year on the Sudbury Airport Community Development Corporation.

Battistelli was as a goodwill ambassador for Sudbury as a president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) from 2011 to 2013.

"It was an opportunity to see the industry from a national perspective and the issues it faces," he said.

Serving during the CFIG's 50th anniversary year, Battistelli visited top supermarkets across Canada and met their owners.

He calls that a great learning experience.

"You can always learn something every day."

In 2018, he was recipient of CFIG’s prestigious Life Member Award.

As he ties up his commitments, Battistelli looks forward to spending time at his camp, playing golf, and travelling with this wife, Jane. The couple have five children.

The Lively supermarket will be purchased by another franchisee when Battistelli retires, but it will no doubt remain his favourite place to shop and enjoy a conversation with a friend or two.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelancer writer. Success is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.