Seasons Food Market is the latest Asian grocer in the increasingly varied and crowded ethnic grocery sector.
The grocer opened its second outlet on June 6 in the ethnically diverse community of Thornhill, Ont.. Its first store opened four years ago in Brampton, west of Toronto.
The biggest ethnic grocer is Korean food specialist Galleria Supermarket that is right across from Seasons.
Seasons is the anchor grocery tenant in the Shops on Yonge retail centre that opened in February.
The grocery store is nestled among the four new condominiums that were erected in the spot that used to be an abandoned parking lot a few years ago.
The condo dwellers are expected to provide a steady influx (approximately 13,000 live there) to the 45,000-sq.-ft. space that occupies the main floor of the three-level shopping mall.
Three owners have worked together to open this new modern supermarket, that puts convenience first for customers. Condo dwellers in the area don’t have to go outside as the store is accessible via the shared underground garage.
Once largely a Jewish community, Thornhill is seeing increasingly more Asians, East Indians and Russians, according to the latest census data.
One of the owners of Seasons, Min Fei Zheng, said his vision is to make Seasons a grocery store for every country. Zheng said while Seasons’ first store in Brampton catered mainly to the Jamaican and South Asian populations, this new outlet features more pan-Asian fare. Vietamese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese foods are all well represented in the product mix. In the future, Zheng said he wants to open more Seasons store, and is constantly looking for locations larger than 40,000 sq. ft.
Steven Guan of Promobiz Solutions, a marketing agency, said the concept behind the store was a modern, upscale supermarket that features a variety of fresh food items. “Seasons is focused on fresh services,” he said.
Natural light is surprisingly abundant in the store thanks to skylights, and pendant lighting fixtures throughout the store.
The grocer’s tagline is “a cool supermarket for your hot season.” Guan said there are two entrances to the supermarket to allow for shopping flow. One entrance takes customers directly to the produce department, while another leads to the centre store aisles.
From palm trees made of steel in the food court, to the large selection of frozen fish and meats on offer, Seasons is the latest example of how ethnic grocers have evolved in Toronto. The store took one year to complete at a cost of $5 million.
The three owners had all worked in grocery and decided to open their own business taking the knowledge they accumulated over the years.
The business of offering such a broad array of pan-Asian and European food however wasn’t a challenge to Zheng. “It was easy,” he said. “You just need the right suppliers to get you the right product mix.”