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H.Y. Louie channels urban farmers market with newest store

Fresh St. Farms offers a wide variety of locally sourced foods, fresh produce, organic foods and specialized food stations

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H. Y. Louie Co. finishes 2013 on the same high note they began it, by opening a new Fresh St. supermarket.

The first store, in West Vancouver is called Fresh St. Market, while the second one that opened on Thursday in Surrey, in Metro Vancouver, is named Fresh St. Farms.

The choice of name reflects store size, said marketing manager Mark McCurdy. The “Fresh St.” branding remains consistent.

Larger stores, at around 30,000 sq. ft., are Market stores, while Fresh St. Farms stores are around the 20,000 sq. ft. mark.

GALLERY: Take a tour of Fresh St. Farms

“The ‘Farms’ stores keep all the best practices of the ‘Market’ locations,” said McCurdy, “the scale is just a little more intimate.”

READ: West Vancouver’s new Fresh St. Market puts focus on the unique

The mix is still 60% fresh and 40% dry groceries, with organic, vegan and locally made options throughout the store.

There are jams handmade in the museum at Fort Langley, frozen berries from nearby Washington State, products from Lepp Farm Market in Abbotsford, bakers both in-house and local.

Fresh St. Farms is a former IGA supermarket in upscale Fleetwood Village mall. Warm incandescent light now streams onto wall panels of wood reclaimed from old Fraser Valley buildings.

A humming marketplace, moveable produce bins and shelves of fresh baking surround an abundantly stocked grab’n’go island with Chef Destination soups, sandwiches and wraps, take-out sushi, and a curry bar.

READ: Eight ways to spruce up the produce department

There is also a complete deli, beside a giant cast-iron grill producing everything to order, from breakfasts and the farmers lunch, to the classic Angus burger.

Opening two stores in 2013, said Gary Sorenson, COO and executive vice-president of H.Y. Louie, reflects a “slow growth model.” He anticipates one to two stores a year in Metro Vancouver, “maybe 3 or 4 in a crunch year.”

Each new store builds on past success. The Surrey store gained insights from the successful Fresh St. Market, which “will remain our pilot store,” said Sorenson.

Sorenson sees it as “a voyage of discovery.” When asked how many “Farms” vs. “Market” stores are planned, he said, “It depends on the store size, the community mix, and even the ethnicities. Canada is such a melting-pot. We try to honour the food desires of multiple ethnicities.”

The focus is on the centre of the plate in both store formats. The dazzling array of fresh seafood, the on-site butchers, and local produce are all central to Fresh St.

Paul Gill, of Sutra Foods, the family-run supplier for the curry bar, smiled from his display in the market. “Americans are already shopping like this,” he said, “Canadians will grow to love this!”

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