The Glynes were seeking a sense of community as they began their own family and were drawn to Penticton and The Bench Market, 368 Vancouver Avenue. What started in 2010 as a culinary leadership position for Stewart ended up as a family-owned and operated business for him and Heather in 2013.
This feeling of belonging and contributing to community permeates all operations of The Bench Market today. Whether it is building connections to farmers and artisans, supporting local events and charities, or greeting customers warmly each day, the Glynes are all in.
The Glynes renovated the space and enhanced the patio to configure more seating. Bicycle racks were installed to accommodate the enthusiastic cyclists of the region. Décor morphed into a rotating art gallery on the walls to highlight local talent.
Products available for sale are made in-house or reflect local sensibilities and people with who they’ve developed relationships. Think Upper Bench artisan cheeses from Shana and Gavin Miller, Gr’eggs farm fresh eggs and produce from Greg Peters, Medley Organics from Jerome Gagne, What The Fungus mushrooms from Brian Callow, Organic Only Cawston from Emily Jubenvill, Okanagan Wildbrush Honey from Kevin and Janelle Dunn, Naramata Blend raspberries from Elaine Davidson, and lavender from Karolina and Forest Green Man.
The retail list goes on to include Wineland Dressing, Maple Roch syrup, Gratify cheesecakes, Poplar Grove cheese, Terroir cheese, Carmelis Goat cheese and more. Through Two Rivers Meats out of North Vancouver, small farm meat producers are brought together that treat animals ethically, are all-natural without growth hormones: The Bench Market is a legacy client.
“As a chef,” points out Stewart, “you are proud of what you are working with and it’s really important to know the real components of what goes into your food and where it comes from. We use real chocolate. Local honey goes into our granola, butter into all our baked goods. Our coffee has been made from organic roasted beans from Backyard Beans, Summerland, from day one.”
Canadian cookbooks feature Whitewater Cooks, Haida Gwaii, Wickaninnish, Soup Sisters and Okanagan writers such as Jennifer Schell.
Charity Begins at Home
With their children in school, swim club and other sports endeavours, the Glynes help many youth-related programs. Heather is on the board for both the Community Foundation, South Okanagan-Similkameen and Travel Penticton. The Bench Market sponsors Penticton’s KISU swim club and the Penticton Vees and has sponsored other sporting events such as Granfondo Axel Merckx and 2017 ITU Multisport Festival (sometimes related to all those cyclists meeting on the patio) and the 2016 BC Winter Games. In addition, they regularly support Soupateria, Penticton Art Gallery, the OSNS Child & Youth Development Centre, local elementary school running programs and more. The Bench Market also has a partnership with the SOS Café at the Penticton Regional Hospital in support of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.
Quality Control informs Business Evolution
For The Bench Market, quality control is big. Says Heather, “In the case of a family business such as ours it’s your brand, it’s a reflection of your values, your priorities and your commitment to community. It’s also being selective of what we take on, so that we can maintain our high standards and consistency.”
Consequently, Heather and Stewart have resisted the lure of packaging goods for larger retailers. They have instead forged long-term partnerships locally. For example, The Bench Market is the supplier for the picnic lunches enjoyed on Grape Escapes wine tours. They also partner with Painted Rock Winery, 400 Smythe Drive, to offer picnic lunches enjoyed during tastings at the winery.
Sandwiches offered by Sherlock Oh around the corner at the Rocky Store, 404-430 Haven Hill Road, are also prepared at The Bench Market.
With such partnerships, Heather and Stewart can ensure their product stays local, is fresh and is truly representative of Bench Market quality.