Hybrid App-Based Convenience Store Launches 1st Location in Downtown Edmonton [Interview/Photos]


Share post:

Vender Convenience recently launched in downtown Edmonton, calling itself one of Canada’s first hybrid convenience stores.

“It’s staffed during the day, cashier-less, basically an app-based convenience store,” said James Johnson, Owner of Vencer Convenience.

“You can use the app for everything from entering the store, to scanning items and cashing out. It’s 24/7 but staffed during the day.”

Staff is on hand from about mid-morning to mid-afternoon to stock shelves and be available to help customers.

Image: Vender Convenience

The first Vender Convenience store is located at 9917 109 Street, near the Alberta Legislature and the High Level Bridge.

“I’ve lived and worked downtown since about 2010. This is where I work now. There’s almost no convenience stores left downtown, especially 7-11. They’re not in downtown,” said Johnson. “It’s been happening across the country and really accelerated under COVID.”

With more people working from home, there’s been less traffic in the downtown and some restaurants aren’t open all the time for lunch.

“So I thought there was an opportunity to meet the needs of the neighbourhood and there’s been a good response so far,” he said.

Image: Vender Convenience
Image: venderconvenience.com

The Edmonton location is 1,346 square feet.

“It was developed with the franchise in mind or at least expansion in mind because you know the saying, do you have a business or do you have a job? I wasn’t looking to have a job,” said Johnson. “If it was just for one spot I wouldn’t have done it. There are other spots where it can be applied to.

“A large institution approached me a few days ago wanting to learn more. Building owners downtown have shown up to learn more. Even when I walked through the first time with my landlord they were like well we’ve got some space in another building if you’re interested. 

“I think it’s a really flexible format . . . It’s just the beginning for this model.”

Image: Vender Convenience

According to the company’s website, the idea for Vender Convenience was born during the Johnson family’s Easter celebration. When they ran out of milk and eggs, and Johnson discovered that the local store was closed, he decided to find a solution to the problem. His goal? To be able to shop in his local area whenever a need arises, without having to manage a store himself all day. This was the starting point for Vender Convenience, powered by Storekey’s technical platform.

All payment is made through Storekey’s Scan & Go solution, freeing up staff for in-store customer service and queries. 

Storekey is a retail tech company founded in 2018. It leverages a best-in-class solution that removes friction for consumers by solving problems for retailers. Its platform is compatible with all retail verticals and businesses that wish to improve their services. Today, several international store chains and independent stores use its technology. Amongst them, is Europe’s first and largest unmanned grocery store chain – Lifvs.

“The one I picked is at the foot of an office tower,” said Johnson. “And there’s lots of nearby residential towers. You need a lot of the things that any convenience store would need. You need foot traffic, you need a lot of people nearby. 

“But I don’t know why it couldn’t be in your neighbourhood corner store. I don’t know why it couldn’t be in a residence for a dormitory. I don’t know why it couldn’t be at an airport . . . It’s so flexible with the technology. It’s pretty easy to adopt . . . The scan and go approach is going to be the bridge that’s the hybrid.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author



Subscribe to the Newsletter


* indicates required

Related articles

Elevating Canadian Retail: How JLL’s Expertise Reshapes Property Management [Interviews]

Landlords are increasingly turning to JLL for pioneering property management solutions that prioritize both enhanced customer experiences and sustainability.

Mandy’s to Open Gourmet Salad Restaurant in Toronto’s Yorkville as Chain Expands [Exclusive Interview/Renderings]

The popular Montreal-based foodservice concept is growing its presence in Toronto with multiple locations, including one behind a soon-to-open Saint Laurent flagship store.

Gen Z’s Digital Upbringing Meets a Passion for Tangible Retail and Authentic Brands [Interview]

A new report on Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, provides insight into consumer behaviours as well as a look into the upcoming Generation Alpha.

Interview with Giant Tiger’s New CEO Gino DiGioacchino on the Future of the Iconic Canadian Retailer [Interview]

DiGioacchino speaks to Retail Insider after being appointed as the new President and CEO of Giant Tiger, and discusses the future of the business and importance of maintaining strong connections with local communities.

Purdys Chocolatier Expands Footprint with Pop-Up Stores [Interview]

The strategy involves providing customers with a taste of Purdys' renowned chocolates in areas where the brand hasn't had a presence before.

Colliers Report Emphasizes the Retail Advantage of Bridging the Digital-Physical Divide [Interview]

A recent report by Colliers Real Estate Management Services reveals that retailers who effectively blend their online and physical store operations are 35% more likely to achieve profitability, with the study emphasizes the importance of omnichannel strategies, convenience, property maintenance, and retailer-driven ESG initiatives.

Preview of ICSC@CANADA Conference 2023: Retail, Technology, and Networking Opportunities in Toronto [Interview]

Craig and Kyle Tomlin, Director of Events in Canada for ICSC, discuss the highly anticipated ICSC@CANADA 2023 conference, set to take place from October 2nd to 4th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre North Hall in downtown Toronto.

Canadian Grocers Take a Page from Carrefour’s Playbook to Tackle ‘Shrinkflation [Op-Ed]

French supermarket chain Carrefour has labeled products impacted by reduced size, and similar measures may be adopted in Canada to enhance transparency in food pricing, says Sylvain Charlebois.

Jeweller Mejuri Debuts Personalized App and Innovative Membership Program; Plans Expansion with 5 New Stores [Co-Founder Interview]

The popular brand's personalized mobile app and membership program aim to enhance customer engagement and personalization, as Mejuri enters major markets with stores.

Fast-Casual Restaurant Concept MightyBird Opening 1st Location in Toronto in a Partnership [Interviews]

The new concept at Union Station will be the first of many in a partnership between Eat Up Canada and Open Concept Hospitality.

KIT + ACE Launches Store Expansion in Canada Under New Ownership [Interview]

The Vancouver-based retailer will open two locations this fall in Toronto and Calgary, with plans for a substantial expansion into 2024 says CEO David Lui.

Casual Steakhouse Chain MR MIKES Expanding Further in Canada [Interview]

With plans for continued expansion into Western Canada and Ontario, the restaurant chain is evolving its concept and targeting smaller markets to establish itself as a hub for local communities.