Sun Valley Supermarket set to close its doors

Venerable independent grocer is winding down after nearly 40 years
7/24/2023
sun valley supermarket

The sun is setting on Sun Valley Supermarket.

The independent grocery retailer is closing its Danforth Road store in Scarborough, Ont. to make way for a new 12-storey condo development. 

For store manager and co-owner Jim Bexis, the closure of the family business brings mixed emotions. “We’ve got customers who have been with us for a long time; we know them by name,” he says. “We’ve been there for them and that’s the hard part.” 

But being in their early 60s now, Bexis and his wife decided to call time. “We probably have 10 years of enjoying life a little bit instead of being here seven days a week, as hard as it may be to part from it,” he says. 

Bexis got his start in the business in the mid-80s by helping out his father-in-law, Gerry Aravantinos, at his store – Sun Valley Fine Foods in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood. (The store closed in 2012.) In 1986, the family opened Sun Valley Supermarket in Scarborough, where Bexis has been ever since. Bexis co-owns Sun Valley with his brother-in-law, Peter Vacirtzoglou. Another partner and brother-in-law, Spiros Aravantinos, passed away in 2020. 

Throughout his career, Bexis was involved in industry groups such as DCI and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). He was named chair in 2017 and in 2022, he received CFIG’s Life Member designation, which honours people who have made a significant contribution to the food industry.

jim bexis
Jim Bexis

Looking back, Bexis summarizes Sun Valley’s key to success with one word: family. “I consider a lot of our customers family and our staff as well,” he says. “Customer service to me is treating the customer the way you would expect to be treated. And that applies to employees. So, if you treat them the way you expect to be treated – with respect and so on – you’re never going to have a problem.” 

Sun Valley Supermarket is set to close on Saturday, July 29 and is hosting a farewell barbecue the following day. “I don’t know how many are going to show up… but we’ll cook up a bunch of food and hopefully we’ll have enough,” says Bexis. 

READ: The community grocer

According to Bexis, the building will be demolished in about 18 months. He says his family owned a portion of the land where the new development is going. 

Asked if he had any parting words, Bexis said: “It’s been a pleasure serving the neighbourhood… I have not regretted anything. Would I do it again? Of course. It has truly been an honour and it’s been great working with CFIG along the way and meeting new people. A lot of the independents across the country have been so supportive over the years… The independents are pretty strong – and that’s the family part. I’m going to miss them all.”

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