Monday, August 23, 2010

Fresh out of sympathy

In today's SP (Aug. 23/10) in the Letters to the Editor a downtown resident senior both laments the apparent loss of and complains of broken promises for a downtown grocery store. This writer acknowledges that she stopped in a few times and bought a "few" things that she needed. She admits that during her visits the store was not busy but states it takes time to build a clientele.

If the demand for a grocery store, rather than a convenience store, existed, then the store should have been booming from day one. I am always amazed when people believe businesses should exist solely for their convenience.

When downtown had the Extra Foods store, the majority used it as a convenience store and did not use it for their main shopping. I plead guilty on this as I was one of those people. I now use Extra Foods on Broadway in the same fashion. Regrettably for we convenience shoppers, grocery stores are businesses and want to make a profit. These stores measure the viability of the store through "basket size," which is the average amount of the purchase made by patrons.

When the downtown Extra Foods closed, the city arranged for and offered a free shuttle service to both the Broadway Extra Foods and the newly opened Giant Tiger in Riversdale, as well as the farmer's market. The shuttle service was unused and eventually ceased operating. However, many downtown seniors hopped on the free bus service offered to the Co-op Store on 8th Street, presumably because the prices were cheaper, and they did the bulk of their shopping at the Co-op.

Most large grocery chains make their profit margins through bulk and volume sales. Small groceterias can neither stock bulk products and or offer the same prices as the huge chain stores. At some point downtown residents are going to have to come to terms with this issue. It is generally referred to as "use it or lose it."

Downtown seems to have lost this store and I expect it will be a long while before anyone thinks to invest in a similar venture again.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with part of your missive. However, the owner of the store in question had problems from the outset which prevented customers from making this store a success. I had expressed concern fairly early on that as product ran out, shelves were not being filled up as the owner was under capitalized by this point and did not have the cash flow to replace them. Therefore, you could not count on this store even having the few confectionery items you may require , much less actual grocery items. This was compounded with vegetables that were often left out too long.
    I still believe that a grocery store downtown can work IF the owner is able to absorb several months without a profit and keep the shelves well stocked. If customers realize that they can buy everything they need for small meals , then larger grocery shops will follow.They will never be able to fully replace a full service grocery store but they may get enough of those people who go to the Safeway or Sobey's deli after work to survive and even thrive eventually.


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