Beloved Fredericton grocery store gets new ownership

·4 min read
Victory Meat Market in Fredericton is under new ownership, leaving the hands of the Chippin family for the first time since it opened in 1939. (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)
Victory Meat Market in Fredericton is under new ownership, leaving the hands of the Chippin family for the first time since it opened in 1939. (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)

A historic downtown Fredericton grocery store has a new owner after more than 80 years in business.

Victory Meat Market has been an institution in the city since Simon Chippin opened its doors in 1939, shortly after emigrating from Belarus.

The business has been passed down through generations ever since.

Chippin's sons Harry and Mike, and grandsons Seth and Gordie have all had stakes in running the family business.

"It's a legacy of a family," said Marilyn Kaufman, former president of Victory Meat Market, and Simon Chippin's granddaughter.

"They lived and breathed the store," she said, adding that there have been five generations of the family that have worked there, including her grandson.

Marilyn Kaufman's grandfather Simon Chippin opened Victory Meat Market in 1939.
Marilyn Kaufman's grandfather Simon Chippin opened Victory Meat Market in 1939.(Gary Moore/CBC)

Kaufman worked at the store when she was a teenager, like many of her relatives through the years, but she spent her career as a teacher in Fredericton.

Retired from teaching, she came back to help run the business about a year and a half ago, when her cousin Seth was diagnosed with cancer.

Seth died in August, 2020, leaving Kaufman and her family members with a decision to make about the future of the business.

They eventually came to the realization that it would be best to sell it.

"It was not a decision taken lightly, by any means," Kaufman said, adding that other members of the family had taken different career paths.

Alex Scholten is the new president and CEO of Victory Meat Markets, shown alongside his co-owners Hieu Pham, and Peter Yuan.
Alex Scholten is the new president and CEO of Victory Meat Markets, shown alongside his co-owners Hieu Pham, and Peter Yuan. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Kaufman said they found a good fit in the new owners, and the transaction was official at the end of March.

Alex Scholten is the new president and CEO of the business, along with his co-owners Peter Yuan and Hieu Pham, originally from Vietnam.

Scholten took over as general manager about six months ago following Seth Chippin's death to help with the day-to-day operations and prepare for the sale of the business.

"It's become a Fredericton institution that I personally grew up knowing about — my father worked here 55 years ago," said Scholten.

Scholten's father, along with his brothers, started a chain of convenience stores in the province — giving him a lifetime in the industry.

Scholten ran a couple of stores himself before selling them a couple of years ago.

The grocery store is known for its wide variety of meat.
The grocery store is known for its wide variety of meat.(Gary Moore/CBC)

Peter Yuan immigrated to Fredericton with his family in 2004 and is no stranger to the industry either.

Yuan's family opened Saigon Department Store, a convenience store in Fredericton when they came to the province.

"I thought that now is my time to continue to give back to the community that I love so much," Yuan said about his investment in Victory Meat Market.

Yuan said he's both excited and terrified about his new adventure.

"It's a lot of pressure, not only from Alex, and also from the customer and staff," he said.

Victory Meat Market has been a popular grocery store in downtown Fredericton for decades.
Victory Meat Market has been a popular grocery store in downtown Fredericton for decades. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Scholten agrees that there's pressure to live up to the standard that the Chippin family set in the community.

"I've talked to many customers, and when they found about the purchase, the one thing they said in particular is, 'Don't change anything. We love the customer service, we love the fresh produce and the fresh meat, we love the prices — don't change those things'."

Scholten assures the public that they aren't planning to change any of those things, but do plan to upgrade and renovate the store, without taking away what it's known for.

As well, the 43 staff who currently work at the grocery store will remain with the business, and Scholten said there will be more people hired with summer approaching.

Kaufman said it'll take a while for it to sink in that the business has been sold to new owners.

"I've been assured that I'm welcome here anytime," she said laughing, adding that it's the relationships that have been built through the store that the family will miss the most.

"Well, you put a lot of years, and there's that link with customers, with the employees, and it's kinda like a family — the camaraderie that you have."

"We'll have lots of memories that we talk about and discuss. Lots of stories to recount," she said.