First look: Farm Boy Sugar Wharf

The fast-growing retailer’s 10th Toronto location is brimming with fresh foods as well as its popular store-brand products

Farm Boy unveiled its latest store this week in downtown Toronto; it’s the fast-growing retailer’s 10th in the city and 47th location, overall.

At nearly 30,000-sq.-ft., the Sugar Wharf store, located on the second level of a newly constructed space at 100 Queens Quay East, is packed with fresh produce, ready-to-eat prepared foods and grocery items, many of which are the chain’s own brands – one of Farm Boy’s main points of differentiation.

“Our private label assortment has grown an average of 300 SKUs a year for the last five years,” said Josh Drache, Farm Boy’s vice-president of private label product development and restaurant operations, while taking Canadian Grocer on a personal tour of the store. 

“We’re always referred to as Trader Joe’s of the North,” said Drache, referring to the U.S. grocer well-known for its private label items. “But we’re trying to make it so that Trader Joe’s is Farm Boy of the South.” 

Currently, Farm Boy boasts more than 1,800 private-label items that range from salad dressings (including the Lemon Garlic Dressing that, years ago, kicked-off the chain’s private-label journey) to coffee to frozen sweet potato fries, Fattoush chips, ice cream, dips, drinks, dim sum and more. Drache says the Sugar Wharf location has the largest grocery department of the company’s 47 stores and that 600 SKUs were added last minute to fill the store’s shelves.

Given the urban location of the new store, there’s also a robust prepared food offer to appeal to nearby condo dwellers and office workers that are seeking quick meals. “We did five or six new items for the hot bar today that are made right in the store,” said Drache, “We thought it would be fun for this store.” On this day, the hot bar is serving up personal-size pizzas, smash burgers, stir-fries, sandwiches and more.

Of course, produce is also front-and-centre at Farm Boy and customers are greeted by a giant citrus display as they enter the store. Other notable mentions in the meticulously maintained department include a Fair Trade banana display, a display of whole and cored pineapple and a wall of leafy greens. “It’s a very produce-forward company,” said Drache.  

Take a look at the Sugar Wharf location:

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