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John van Teunenbroek

2024 Newmarket Honouree

 “Our store” is what he calls it.  You’re probably already familiar with John’s No Frills on Davis Drive in Newmarket, Ontario, but what you may not know is that this second-generation grocery retail enthusiast, turned owner and operator never intended for it to become a career, but…

“The importance of food and the impact food insecurity can have on a community is too staggering to ignore”.  – John van Teunenbroek

In 1997 as a teen, John started his career at the (then) Loblaws located just a 7-minute walk from home, ironically, in the very same plaza that his (now) No Frills location thrives, but at the opposite end.

In 2004, John accepted a position at the No Frills in Woodbridge as a grocery clerk.  He assisted in opening the first No Frills location in Newmarket (on Leslie Street) in 2006 and in 2008 he joined the franchisee program.  There was no “ah ha!” moment about it, but rather a growing understanding of the needs and opportunities within a community that can be met through grocery.

“Support who you serve” is a sentiment John lives by example every day.  He also says, “A business is only as strong as the community it is in – if we strengthen our community, we/they strengthen our business.”

The grocery store is often in the ‘heart’ of the town.  John’s No Frills was certainly the heart of Shelburne, Ontario for the eight years that he and his family called it home.  Making the decision to leave in 2019 and return to his hometown, some 75km away, was not easy.  What was also not easy?  Opening a brand-new store in Newmarket just before the pandemic began.

Never was his focus profits or growth, but rather the health and well-being of the community.  Grateful to be back and in a position to help, he made a $1,000.00 donation to the Newmarket Food Pantry with the following statement of support and partnership, “We share a common goal to feed everyone”.  In the years that have followed, John’s relationship with the Newmarket Food Pantry has only strengthened.  He supports several school breakfast programs and is always looking for new and impactful ways to give back.

His advice to others is, “Take something you’re passionate about and think about how it ties into a need – you don’t have to look far for opportunities to give back, they will usually be right in front of you, just seize them when they are.”

He then gave a perfect example of how he’d spent years supporting The Shepherd’s Cupboard (Shelburne’s food bank) but had never visited in-person.  It is run entirely on a volunteer basis, and everyone has always done the best with whatever they had – like the old, donated library shelves being used to organize donations.  Unlike other volunteers, John brings nearly three decades of grocery experience to the table.  His next visit involved spending several hours helping the team reorganize their system of storing and supplying donations, creating a safer and more efficient experience for all.

“Your time is more valuable than you realize, especially when you’re doing something you’re good at and can enjoy”. JVT





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