T&T had been searching for a replacement for the Cherry St. store even prior to its closure in January 2020, says CEO Tina Lee. Located on College St. near Spadina Ave., in a space previously occupied by an Independent City Market—a sister banner under the Loblaw Companies Limited umbrella—the new store is set to open in the fall.
“When we lost the Cherry St. store, I was scouring for any site regardless of whether it was a supermarket [before],” says Lee of the company’s search to find a suitable location. “We have looked at several locations over time, and we thought this one was a perfect fit.
“There are so many factors that go into selecting a good site, and different locations fell off for different reasons,” she adds. “Some didn’t have enough loading doors…or the rent was too high. There were not that many options to choose from, but we looked at everything we could out of a very limited pool in downtown.”
The Toronto location is opening at nearly the same time as a new store in Langley, B.C., pushing T&T’s total store count across B.C., Alberta and Ontario to 29. The new store is expected to employ 100 people.
At 27,000 square feet, its footprint is smaller than a typical T&T store (the Cherry St. location was 40,000 square feet), but Lee predicts improved accessibility will result in more walk-in traffic. “We expect smaller basket sizes, but more frequent shops,” she says. “People had to take an Uber to the Cherry St. store.”
It will carry more than 10,000 products including signature items such as fresh produce, seafood and meat, and what Lee describes as “the widest assortment of Asian groceries you can get in the city,” many of which are not available elsewhere.
Its smaller size does mean some sacrifices, however, such as fewer fish tanks for live seafood. “Instead of piloting anything new, we actually had to be very picky about what made it in,” says Lee. “But what’s important is that people will still be able to buy their favourites.”
Lee says the new store represents a “wonderful comeback story” for T&T in Toronto after the closure of its longstanding Port Lands location. While it was located in a somewhat out of the way neighbourhood, the Cherry St. store was a popular weekend destination, offering customers ample parking and a great view of the city skyline. “It’s super painful to close a store for redevelopment,” says Lee. “It’s not like it was losing money.”