On May 29, the Safeway on 118 Avenue and 81 Street closed. Though a FreshCo will open there in September, the months between might leave residents with limited mobility struggling to find a place to shop.
The Alberta Avenue Business Association directory lists local shops that may fill the void. With basic items in mind, I selected four shops to see how accessible the new grocery market will be. Each store proved to be unique, but illuminated the challenges shoppers may encounter come the end of May.
Paraiso Tropical Market on 118 Avenue and 91 Street boasts an impressive selection of Latin American goods. Mainly imported, the foods range from tempting snacks to ingredients needed to cook authentic cuisine. The small, well stocked storefront has a selection of hot, ready-to-eat foods. Much of the customer base seems to shop for specialty items. While those who are more familiar with Latin American food might find it a one-stop shop to fill their fridge, other shoppers may need to venture elsewhere for the common staples such as cow’s milk and sliced bread. At Paraiso, a dozen large eggs retails for $5.25 and a very limited produce section is available.
A few blocks east on 118 Avenue and 85 Street sits Village Foods. Much like a typical convenience store, Village Foods sells an assortment of products and is certainly not limited to food. While the snack and candy selections seem to be the biggest draw, other non-perishables are available. Buy 12 eggs for $4.50, four litres of two per cent milk for $5.75, a block of butter for $6.46, and sliced bread for $1.99. Beyond the basics and snacks, it might be a challenge to find everything needed for a big shop there.
Kasoa Tropical Food on 118 Avenue and 93 Street brings the tastes of African and Caribbean cuisine to Alberta Avenue. Like Paraiso, these products are great for shoppers seeking specialty items. There’s also a vast array of spices, beans and legumes, different types of flour, and vegetables not commonly found in big chain stores. Seafood fans will find dried, unprocessed, and stock varieties. Poultry and goat meats can also be found. They don’t sell cow’s milk, but they do offer a small selection of cheeses. The price point for products seemed comparable to larger stores, though, depending on needs, it may not be possible for shoppers used to bigger stores to fulfill their lists.
In Little Italy on 95 Street and 108 Avenue, the Italian Centre Shop had the biggest selection, with their goods most similar to what is sold in a chain supermarket. Boasting the largest produce section out of the four stores visited, meats, cheeses, non-perishables, and spices are available. Four litre jugs of two per cent milk are $6.49, the most affordable pound of butter is $5.49, and 12 extra-large white eggs are $4.29. Sliced bread varies in cost, but averages around $4. In terms of convenience, the Italian Centre Shop has the products many consider to be staples under one roof and a wider variety of goods.
The two closest supermarkets are Stadium Save-on-Foods at 112 Avenue and 82 Street, and Superstore on Kingsway. For those with limited mobility or looking to stay home, services such as InstaCart provide grocery delivery, as do Save-on-Foods and Superstore (depending on your location), but delivery fees apply and some stores require a minimum purchase. For shoppers seeking organic products, Spud.ca offers free delivery over a $99 order.
WECAN Food Basket Society is a budget-friendly option. With a $5 annual membership, order a monthly produce basket ($10) or a meat or pork-free meat basket ($15). These groceries are meant to bridge the food gap during the last week of the month. Call 780.413.4525 or visit wecanfood.com for details. Alberta Avenue Community League is seeking enough orders to establish a WECAN depot at their community centre starting in June. Sign up at http://bit.ly/AACLwecan or call 780.479.6237.
For non-drivers who rely on Safeway for their groceries and are awaiting the opening of FreshCo, it may be a summer with limited accessibility, but it may also be a good time to explore the locally owned businesses listed here and on the Alberta Avenue Business Association directory: alberta-avenue.com/directory.
Popular Bakery (118 Avenue and 93 Street)
Handy Bakery (118 Avenue and 86 Street)
YEG Smoked Meats (118 Avenue and 82 Street)
Victoria Fancy Sausage (some fresh meat) (118 Avenue and 65 Street)
Marchyshyn’s Home Meat Market (111 Avenue and 96 Street)
Budapest Delicatessen (111 Avenue and 93 Street)