When Emory Zehr and sons Lester and Clifford opened the first Zehrs store in Kitchener, Ontario, in July 1950, they had one overriding philosophy – put yourself in the shoes of every customer who comes through the door. That emphasis on customer service, along with a policy of offering “good value at a low price,” proved a winning formula. More than 50 stores and over half a century of service later, Zehrs is today one of Southern Ontario’s most successful retail grocery chains.
The first Zehrs Market was located at 100 Highland Road West. It was a family operation from day one. Lester and Clifford were often seen in their smocks, helping customers and stocking shelves. Elva, Lester’s spouse, was the first cashier. The store was nothing fancy, with simple product displays. But it offered good value for the money, with quality meats and fresh produce. Customers liked the friendly atmosphere, and they especially liked the prices.
The 1950s were prosperous for Canada, and the Zehrs decided to expand beyond that family run store. By the early 1960s, there were six Zehrs Markets in Kitchener-Waterloo. The stores were becoming bigger, growing into supermarkets with extended hours. Zehrs next expanded into the nearby city of Guelph.
In the 1970s, inflation hit consumers hard in the pocketbook. Zehrs’ commitment to low prices and customer service helped many families stretch their food dollar. Meantime, Zehrs continued to expand, acquiring another chain called Gordons Markets, with eleven outlets.
During the 1980s, Zehrs responded to two economic recessions by setting-up whole departments dedicated to bulk foods. At the same time, more services were added, such as in-store pharmacies and photo labs. Zehrs also began experimenting with new formats and much larger stores, including Zehrs Food Plus, offering “one-stop convenience” with more general merchandise.
With the 1990s, Zehrs continued to grow, with new stores opening in Barrie, Stratford, and Sarnia. The array of in-stores services also continued to expand, with the addition of Meals To Go and the Beanroast Café, to name a few.
But while customer service and low prices have made it a household name, Zehrs involvement in the community has always gone beyond the checkout counter. Zehrs and its employees have been active in over 150 local charities, including WALK for MS and the United Way. Its Zehrs’ way of saying ‘thank you’ for over 50 years of successful retailing.
Loblaw Companies acquired Zehrs Markets in 1963. Zehrs Markets continues to operate as a significant contributor within Loblaw Companies which operates all across Canada.
If you are not completely satisfied with any Zehrs product, simply return the unused portion and original container, along with your receipt, and we will gladly replace the product with the equivalent private label or national brand or provide you with a full refund.