On the store’s opening day (Aug. 20), lineups stretched down the block from the store’s entrance at 297 College St., something that was repeated in the days after. “This is our only store south of [Highway 401], and I think there was a lot of anticipation,” said CEO Tina Lee in an interview with Canadian Grocer this week. (See photo gallery below.)
T&T has established a loyal customer base, as evidenced by a wall in the new store filled with heartfelt farewell messages left by customers of its former Cherry St. location, which stood for nearly 13 years before being torn down to make way for redevelopment.
The store offers a variety of Asian items including fresh Durian, Korean shine muscat grapes and Wagyu beef. With more than 10,000 items, it specializes in products that aren’t readily available at other grocery stores, said Lee. “People are looking for things to mix up the menu, and they want something new and different.”
Located on the site of a former Independent City Market, the College St. location is the 28th in T&T’s network, and its 10th in Ontario. The company is also opening another store attached to the Willowbrook Shopping Centre in Langley, B.C. in the fall.
Lee also told Canadian Grocer the company planned to announce another Ontario store as early as next month. While she wouldn’t reveal where it would be located, she said it would be larger than the new College St. location and would have “regional pull.”
The new store’s location at the edge of Toronto’s Chinatown district has caused concern among residents that it could negatively impact Chinese grocers in the area, but Lee said it could serve as a welcome addition to the area. “[The new store] is very complementary to Chinatown given our Asian heritage, and very complementary to Kensington market,” she said.