No Frills has made its grand entrance into Manitoba.
The discount retailer opened the doors to its first Manitoba location on Winnipeg's Main Street this past Tuesday.
It’s one of two No Frills that parent company Loblaw had planned for the city. Another is set to open April 10 on Notre Dame Ave., about a 10-minute drive from the Main Street store.
Both are opening in what used to be Extra Foods stores–locations Loblaw had earlier said were no longer viable. The Main Street Extra Foods closed in March 2013, and the Notre Dame location shuttered in November 2012.
In 2013, Loblaw began converting a number of Extra Foods locations in Western Canada to its No Frills or Your Independent banners.
As of late 2014, Loblaw had 25 No Frills stores in the Prairie provinces, according to Canadian Grocer's Who's Who directory. That was up from 15 in late 2011.
The number of Extra Foods on the Prairies stood at 32 late last year, down from 39 in 2011.
Casey Hellard, franchise owner of the Main Street No Frills was optimistic about his store’s success. On opening day, he watched the customers pour in all morning.
“There’s been thousands. It’s very, very encouraging,” he said.
The two locations are located in inner-city neighbourhoods without discount grocery stores.
“We’re not looking to change the neighbourhood dramatically, but you can change it a little bit if you bring in a good, viable business like this,” says shopper, Stephen Toews.