Downtown Vancouver’s newest grocery store is a sight to behold with its glossy interior and in-store dining options. Located at the base of the new Vancouver House luxury residential tower, the store will serve a high-density neighbourhood that lacked a large grocery retailer in the immediate area.
It’s the fifth Fresh St. Market location and the first in Vancouver. The 15,000 square foot Vancouver store features a 50-seat restaurant called the Fork Lift Kitchen & Bar, which is also licensed. It addressed a trend where grocery stores are adding in-store restaurants, as such retailers morph into what some have coined to be ‘grocerants’. The in-store restaurant’s name is a nod to the past. At one time, the area around the Granville Street Bridge was a tow yard when False Creek was a working harbour. The area is now lined with tall residential buildings as well as an attractive network of parks.
Included is local seafood, cheese, curated meats, and craft beers. The store is separated into areas including “Welcome to our Garden in the City”, “Howe Sound Seafood” ,“Pacific Street Deli”, and “Perk for your Pedal”. There’s also a full-time Cheese Monger as well as a “That’s One Hot Cookie” station which supplies freshly made, warm cookies.
Local suppliers include Two Rivers Meats from North Vancouver, One Arrow Bacon from Vancouver, Meats from Lepp Farms in Abbotsford, Oyama Meat Co. from Granville Island, and Spice Mantra Curries from Surrey. Local coffee roaster Lion’s Bay Coffee Company also has a presence in the new store.
For residents living downtown, Fresh St. Market offers click-and-collect as well as grocery delivery by bicycle. The click and collect option also allows customers to pick up purchases from a refrigerated locker which is activated by a code — Fresh St. Market says that is has simplified the process with shopping able to be done on one’s mobile device.
In the restaurant component, customers can find beer from Vancouver area breweries Bomber Brewing, Main St. Brewing, Strange Fellows Brewing, R & B Brewing Co., and others. Local brewery fans will also find Dageraad Brewing from Burnaby, Beere Brewing from North Vancouver, along with Yellow Dog Brewing Co. and Twin Sales Brewing from Port Moody. Certified B-Corporation Persephone Brewing Company from Gibson’s on the Sunshine Coast is also available — Persephone refers to the boat owned by Nick Adonidas (played by actor Bruno Gerussi) in the hit TV Series ‘The Beachcombers’ which ran between 1972 and 1990 on CBC and other networks.
Sustainability is an important component to the new Fresh St. Market, according to the company. Seafood sold in the store, for example, is said to be 100% sustainable and part of Ocean Wise. Single-use plastic bags are not available in the store, as is already a trend — late last month, Sobeys discontinued providing plastic grocery bags in its hundreds of stores across Canada.
The Fresh St. Market concept is in expansion mode and the company says that more locations are expected, with announcements to come. Other locations for the chain include a store at 1650 Marine Drive in West Vancouver, two locations in Surrey (Fleetwood Village and Panorama Village), as well as a unit in Whistler Village North in the popular resort town north of Vancouver.
Retail analyst David Ian Gray, founder and principal of retail advisory firm DIG360, toured the store over the weekend and provided Retail Insider with the photos in this article. Mr. Gray said that he was impressed with the new Fresh St. Market store, and expects that it will be very popular amongst locals as well as visitors to the area who may also enjoy the nearby Seawall and other waterfront amenities. He also toured the new 12,000 square foot London Drugs store located below Fresh St. Market — the store is a new concept that lacks dedicated departments found in other locations.
Mr. Gray noted that while alcohol is served at Fresh St. Market, patrons are confined to the dedicated restaurant/bar area and may not consume beverages in the store itself. That’s a point of difference from a recently opened Longo’s store in Toronto’s Liberty Village which allows patrons to have a drink in their hand while shopping. Eataly, which opened in downtown Toronto’s Manulife Centre in November, also welcomes patrons who wish to drink while they shop.
Fresh St. Market is a sibling to the IGA grocery chain. Both are run by Georgia Main, which is the recently rebranded food division of H.Y. Louie which also owns the London Drugs chain. Both stores are located in the 80,000-square-foot commercial podium of the Vancouver House development, which includes a unique twisting luxury residential tower designed by Bjarke Ingels. Developer Westbank built the recently completed Vancouver House project, and was also responsible for installing a controversial $4.8 million spinning crystal chandelier that now hangs from the Granville Street Bridge.
The downtown Vancouver peninsula is home to an impressive number of grocery stores. The resident population on the peninsula now surpasses 110,000 thousand residents, and most are able to walk to a grocery store within five minutes. Downtown Vancouver is second in Canada in terms of having a robust offering of grocery stores, and is only surpassed by downtown Toronto which continues to add new grocery retailers amid a population explosion that could see a downtown population surpassing 500,000 residents within the next 20 years.