Fishermen’s Wharf and at the Public Fish Sales Float at Richmond’s Steveston district. Then there is the range of bricks-and-mortar grocers that range from the Loblaw-owned No-Frills to gourmet chains such as Whole Foods Market and Urban Fare. Those chains provide a sense of security in case Thurlow has any oops-I-forgot-the-milk moments and has to make a quick trip to one of several nearby bricks-andmortar stores. “The kind of attitude in [Eastern Canada] toward the West is that people tend to be more ‘greeny,’” says Thurlow, who has lived in Toronto, San Francisco and London, England. While he sees Vancouver as being more “progressive” in its options, the city’s grocery store shelves are stocked with plenty of imported staples and exotic sauces and spices. Competing online options in Vancouver include Smart City Foods, which delivers for free with minimum purchases, and Fresh St. Market, which has physical locations in West Vancouver and Surrey and will drop off its local and organic groceries for a service fee. “[Urban Fare] is certainly not the cheapest in town, but for me it’s worth it,” says Donna Howton, who is a corporate trainer for Flight Centre Canada. “It’s pretty convenient. She is like other so-called locavores, who are interested in sustainable and organic produce grown locally. Urban Fare is part of the Overwaitea Food Group, which also operates banners such as the big-box Save-OnFoods, which is popular in suburbs but also has stores in Vancouver. Save-On-Foods, in 2014, enabled customers to order online and then pick up their groceries at the store. Loblaw-owned Real Canadian Superstore matched that service in November 2015. B.C.-based billionaire Jim Pattison’s Jim Pattison Group conglomerate owns Overwaitea as well as several other grocery chains, such as Nesters Market and Meinhardt Fine Foods, which are in a separate, Buy-Low Foods division. While Howton has tried online grocery shopping, scheduling deliveries around extensive travel was a hassle. So was meeting minimum order requirements when she was only shopping for one. Vancouver’s bricks-and-mortar grocery stores, she discovered, more than met her needs. “I went to Costco for the first time in my life a couple of weeks ago because a friend of mine took me there,” she says. “I was quite amazed by, obviously, how cheap it is and by what they sell in there. I couldn’t get over it.” Costco, which has a location on Expo Boulevard in downtown Vancouver, is popular among those who want to buy in bulk and pay wholesale prices. Smaller stores, including No-Frills, offer some of the city’s lowest grocery prices without the burden of having to buy a dozen units in order to enjoy the discounts. Richmond-based H.Y. Louie Co. – owner of Fresh St. Market, as well as London Drugs – offers a slightly more expensive chain with MarketPlace IGA, which has two convenient downtown locations. Choices, which is another locally owned chain, is comparable in style and price. So is Safeway.
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Fishermen’s Wharf is a short walk from Granville Island | CHUNG CHOW The cheese kiosk at Granville Island market has one of the biggest and most eclectic menus of cheeses in the city | TOURISM VANCOUVER/CLAYTON PERRY
“I used to catch cabs a lot more when I was in Toronto because I’d have to go further afield to get what I was looking for,” says Howton, who moved to Vancouver three years ago. “The West Coast is the home of organic and local,” she says with a laugh. “It’s easy.” É
2015-12-08 10:57 AM