Several grocery retailers including Vince’s Market, Ottawa-based Seed to Sausage Meatery and fishmonger Pier 87 are among the 20 “best-in-class” merchants housed in Oxford Properties’ new food market concept, Market & Co.
Billed by Oxford as the first food market in Canada located within a premium shopping environment, the 40,000-sq.-ft. space inside Newmarket, Ont.’s Upper Canada Mall officially opened on Sept. 7.
The market space is also home to several well-known national and regional chains including Starbucks, Toronto-based ice cream shop Sweet Jesus, Village Juicery, The Wine Shop and candy store Sugar King Factory, as well as the casual dining chains MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company and Union Chicken.
The Upper Canada Mall location is the second for Seed to Sausage Meatery. Founder Mike McKenzie, a one-time member of the Royal Canadian Navy who opened his first store in Ottawa four years ago, describes the store as a destination for discerning meat-lovers.
“If you want to get a steak that you would get at the grocery store, go to the grocery store,” says McKenzie, who says he used to smuggle cured meats back onto his ship from various ports of call. “If you want the type of product you can’t find at the grocery store, that’s what we have. It’s not way over the top in terms of pricing, but you get what you pay for.”
The company makes around 12 different types of sausages, but its most popular is Jalapeno cheese curd smokies featuring 25% fresh Ontario cheese curds and pickled jalapenos. McKenzie jokingly describes it as an upscale version of the “trashiest sausage there is.”
McKenzie says he rebuffed several offers from Oxford Properties when they first contacted him more than two years ago, but finally relented after meeting with company representatives and seeing their vision for the space. McKenzie spent approximately $450,000 to build the 2,000-sq.-ft. store.
The Newmarket location is the fifth for Vince’s Market, with partner Giancarlo Trimarchi saying the 1,100-sq.-ft. store is a throwback to the company’s early 1950s origins as a roadside fruit market. “The idea of going back to the core of marketplace produce really excited us,” says Trimarchi. “It’s an opportunity to return to what we’re best at, in our own backyard.”
The store will emphasize fresh food, with a focus on in-season local produce and prepared produce such as salads and entertainment platters from its nearby commissary. “We’re looking at the on-the-run consumer who’s in and out of the mall looking for a quick meal, as well as the mall staff themselves,” says Trimarchi.
He expects the store to appeal to a broad range of customers, from baby boomers who are driving “food exploration,” to millennial families looking to incorporate more fresh food into their diet.
Upper Canada Mall attracts an estimated 8 million visitors a year, according to director and general manager Bri-Ann Stuart, and is a major draw for the region’s approximately 1.2 million residents. York Region is among the fastest-growing areas in the Greater Toronto Area, having added 202,000 people and 133,800 jobs since 2008, according to a recent report.
The approximately $60 million development (which includes the redevelopment of an adjacent Sport Chek store) took about two-and-a-half years to complete and is housed in a former Target store. Oxford Properties plans to open a second Market & Co. location in Mississauga’s Square One Shopping Centre in 2019.