The first person arrived at 5:40 a.m. By the time the new store opened at 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning, close to 300 people were lined up ready to collect a $10 PC gift card for their effort and be the first to see and sample Loblaws first CityMarket in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland.
As the doors opened, Hugh Ruckman, franchise owner greeted each customer and welcomed them to the store. He’s a familiar face having run the Extra Foods at the same location since 1992, and the Supervalu before that.
Loblaws CityMarket is housed in a spanking new building that anchors the Local on Lonsdale 20-storey condo development.
The store is all decked out in a sophisticated black and white checkered background with bright orange floors, signs placed all over the store proclaiming “We love food,” and at 40,000 square feet, almost twice the size of the previous Extra Foods.
Ruckman believes his store will appeal to an “urban city demographic” and will compete on price with the neighbouring Safeway. He’s also added several bells and whistles that will likely make it a destination shop to draw in others on the North Shore.
He said the Loblaws CityMarket store was inspired by the Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens, and similar to the Loblaws at Queen and Portland in Toronto, and the new Provigo Le Marché that opened in Sherbrooke on July 18.
Ruckman said the store is committed to three key areas: healthy active kids, feeding our neighbours and greening our communities.
“We are very focused on local fresh product and we have over 100 organic produce items in store,” he added.
And that’s apparent from the fresh flowers at the entrance to the market-style layout, the full-time dietitian and a pharmacy placed in the middle of the store, which Ruckman said is all designed to promote healthy living.
The entrance and parking are on the ground floor and once customers are whisked up an escalator they are deposited outside a huge selection of home replacement meals called “the Canteen.”
Next door is a Patisserie where you can buy chocolate chiseled by the chunk, have a choice between eight different cupcakes, six kinds of macaroons and an assortment of fancy cakes.
The bakery bakes on site every day and carries popular breads such as Terra, Uprising and Indian Life from local producers.
The deli includes a 12-foot cheese wall and more than 80 different sorts of mostly local cheeses, there is also sushi made while you watch. As well, the fish and meat counters are placed around the store’s perimeter.
To top it off, the new Loblaws has a green roof. It’s one of the largest in the Lower Mainland, said Ruckman proudly.