The 22,500-square-foot store is situated in the Emerald Hills Urban Village development, which features 11 acres of shops and services and is home to dwellings ranging from multi-family to senior-assisted living, duplex bungalows and townhouses.
It is the biggest store in the Italian Centre Shop network, comprised of three stores in Edmonton, and another in Calgary. It features a 50-seat café, a 30-seat patio, a hot table featuring Italian comfort foods, a full-service pizza bar and an in-house gelateria. It will employ approximately 130 people, about 60 of whom are full-time employees.
“Every time we open a new store, we always wish there was more space, so we’ve made this one bigger,” said Italian Centre Shop owner and president Teresa Spinelli, whose father Frank opened the company’s first store in 1959. “We’re hoping this model works for us, because it’s a little bit different to our other stores.”
Italian Centre Shop has typically taken over existing buildings when opening new stores, but commissioned OCI Architecture—which has offices in Edmonton, Montreal and New York—to design the new store around the Spinelli family’s passion for Italian culture and tradition.
The new location features hints of Italian architecture in shelving designed to mimic Roman aqueducts, complemented by cathedral-style wall fixtures, imported tile and flooring with Italian marble, while solid walnut accentuates the café’s serving and eating areas.
“Our tagline is ‘Step into Italy,’ so we really want people to get that European feel when they walk into our stores,” said Spinelli. “Sherwood Park is a very sporty town, so our designer Sid Assaf [the principal and lead designer of OCI Architecture] took all of the things that Italy is popular for, like soccer, bocce ball and cycling, and implemented them into the details.”
The store houses approximately 30,000 items sourced directly from Europe, including more than 100 types of olive oil and pasta. The 70-foot deli counter offers the largest assortment of deli items in Western Canada, said Spinelli.
Spinelli said Italian Centre Shop remains in growth mode, with its executive team eyeing Calgary and then potentially Saskatoon as markets capable of supporting additional stores. “And then we’ll see,” said Spinelli.