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Bulk food in Calgary

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  • HBOO Mar 11, 2007 03:33 PM

I lived in Calgary previously, but have been living in Ontario for the last few years. In Ontario there is a store, The Bulk Barn, which has all bulk food ever needed. I have asked family members in calgary if there is something like this in Calgary, as we are moving back and cannot live without it, but they had no answers.

Does anyone know the 'bulk' situation in Calgary? Where to get different flours, spices, nuts, etc?

Thanks

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  1. We don't have anything like the Bulk Barn (as I understand it), but the bulk section at Superstore is pretty good. It has some spices, pasta, grains, chocolate, candy, dry soup mixes, trail mixes, dried fruit, nuts, and baking ingredients.

    The quality of the chocolate ranges from cheap chocolate chips to pieces of Callebaut slabs and Callebaut callets. The Callebaut chocolate always seems a bit old as it has bloomed but it is still fine for baking and chocolate-making. I think that the chocolate is a pretty good indicator of the quality and variety of the rest of Superstore's bulk selection.

    I'm intrigued by this Bulk Barn concept. Was it an entire store dedicated to selling food in bulk? What sort of things could you buy that you wouldn't or couldn't get elsewhere?

    1. Yes the entire store is set up with food in bulk- there are different aisles- baking (sugars, flours, chocolate, baking chips (pb, butterscotch)); cooking basic (different pre-made mixes, salts, soup mixes); all kinds of rice, pastas, cereals, dried fruits...obviously I quite enjoy the store and purchase a few things there. I didn't even mention my two favourite aisles, one of candy and one of chocolate. Another great thing is they always have holiday things in bulk- right now there are 12 or so different drums of Easter goodies.

      Well now that I have talked up the store a bit too much, hopefully that answers any questions and maybe inspires some more answers about where in Calgary this sort of thing is available.

      1. I was recently in Ottawa and was surprised to be met by my friends at the airport -- until they admitted that part of the trip was to go to the Bulk Barn!

        Most major grocery chains have a bulk section containing a mix of many of the things you mention; the larger suburban locations may have better bulk selection, but the inner city stores (e.g. Kensington and Beltline Safeway) have reasonable bulk sections as well; I'd guess maybe a hundred items or so? Mostly candy, nuts, snack foods and a few raw ingredient type things. There's usually Christmas and Easter seasonal stuff, IIRC.

        Depending what you want or need, you might want to try:

        Community Natural Foods - there's one on 10th Ave SW near 14th St and a second one near Chinook - these guys have awesome selections of bulk food, with an emphasis on natural foods (e.g. organic, vegan, etc.) Loads of flours, grains, beans, dried fruit, but also some stuff like pasta. Sure, they're a little hippy-dippy, but they have stone ground cornmeal and steel cut oats, which earns my loyalty right there. Mostly raw/natural type foods, rather than a lot of gummy bears or Oreos or what have you.

        Lina's Italian Market - on Centre Street near 24th Ave N, has a smallish bulk selection, but it contains a good range of bulk Italian spices. I was there with my mom recently, and she wondered why I was buying such a large amount of dried rosemary (maybe a good handful), until we got to the counter and I had to pay like 50 cents. There's another Italian market a couple of blocks away; I've never been, but I wouldn't be surprised if they had bulk as well.

        1. Nutter's in Canmore, specializes in natural bulk foods, nothing like the bulk barn though. I think your best bet as already mentioned is: Comunity Natural Foods / Planet Organic Market / and Superstore.

          * If you are looking for ethnic spices I have found a jewel near my house called Spice Land (on Fairmont Dr SE) They have a huge selection of mainly Indian Spices, but also fresh herbs, rices, lentils, etc. My favorite finds were fresh CURRY LEAFS, fresh paneer, and the largest selection of indian spice mix's and curry pastes I've come across.

          1. the bulk barn is brilliant. every time i go to visit my mom i stock up on spices.
            i wonder if they're open to franchising in the west???

            1. I am from Ontario and just moved to Calgary in January. I am having a hard time finding the products I want. The Bulk Barn is a wonderful store and I miss having it. If you do know of any other store that is like this please just let me know.

              1. There is nothing like the Bulk Barn in Calgary.

                I apologize for my fellow Calgarians recommending a Loblaws store as a substitute. It must seem a borderline insult to an Ontarian.

                1. No one has mentioned Planet Organic ....it has a wall of bulk foods and I found it very reasonable for organic that is!! There is one store on Elbow Drive s.w. and another in the north.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cckid

                    Amaranth Foods on John Laurie has better prices than Planet Organic, but their selection is not bigger, but they have some things that P/O doesn't. I find I have to go to both for various things.

                  2. Your best bet is definitely Community Natural Foods downtown. Biggest, best bulk section I've seen in Calgary. They've got the widest assortment of spices and flours, and prices are significantly lower than at Amaranth. It's not easy for me to get there (I use the bus!) so I often go to Planet Organic to get my bulk breakfast cereal. In a pinch, I go to the Sunnyside Market across from Safeway in Kensington- they have a decent selection of herbs, spices and bulk teas, but flour, cereal, pasta, soup mix, trail mix, etc. is limited. I've never been to a Superstore in Calgary, but they're usually a good place for bulk nuts.

                    I would avoid buying bulk at Safeway, Coop, etc... I seriously question how long that stuff sits in those bins. I'm from Victoria, where Thrifty Foods (not ghetto like it sounds!) has HUGE bulk sections where I get everything from cereal to falafel mix to sundried tomatoes in bulk, so I thought it would be safe to get what I could at Safeway. WRONG.

                    1. We just moved to Calgary, and today planned on making a 'Bulk Barn' run for the week, and were astonished to find that there is none! Its hard to believe that with all the crazy growth in this city that no one has caught on to the concept of a store dedicated to bulk foods.
                      We go to Bulk Barn regularly for lunch snacks, baking needs, honey and pb, to make our own trail mix, gluten free products, and they even rent out cake pans in any shape or character you can imagine! I definitely will miss that.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: njpepin

                        Welcome to Calgary! There are plenty of other great things here to take your mind off your Bulk Barn disappointment. But you have to understand that "crazy growth" is precisely what hinders new concepts- when you have dire labour shortages and constuction costs and such, you don't see new businesses opening even though there is yawning consumer call for them.

                        In the meantime, the posters above you have given you plenty of alternatives.

                        1. re: njpepin

                          When the WestHills Safeway first opened years ago it was set up as a bulk-food store. Half the store was a variety of bulk bins and the other half a smallish supermarket. I guess the bulk side never took off though because they converted it to a regular Safeway within a year.

                        2. Most Health Food Stores as well as Superstores have bulk bins. We also have Wholesale clubs like Costco and I think its called the Great Canadian Store???(just off of Barlow and 32 Ave N.E) I have also included a list of other specialty stores for you. Hope this helps

                          MEthnic Food Shops

                          (source: http://www.discovercalgary.com/)

                          Hungarian Deli 4020 26st SE tel: 207-8505

                          T & T 800-999 36th St. N.E. tel: 569-6888

                          Chinese grocery shops Located in China Town downtown

                          Lina's Italian Market 2202 Centre Street NE tel: 277-9166

                          Boca Loca (Mexican Products) 1512 11Street SW tel: 802-4600

                          Cedars Food Mart (Middle East Products)
                          4710 17 Avenue SE tel: 235-9983

                          Atlas Specialty Supermarket and Restaurant:
                          Kosher/Islamic/Halal/Persian, Arabic and more.
                          #100 1000 9th ave SW tel: 230-0990

                          Edelweiss Imports (European Specialties
                          )1921 20th Avenue NW tel: 282-6600

                          Sunterra marketplace 803-49 Ave. S.W. tel: 287-0553

                          Kalamata grocery (Mediterranean and Middle Eastern / Greek foods)
                          1421-11st. S.W. tel: 244-0220

                          .

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Kimiko

                            If your going to include all those places then we musn't forget the Dutch Cash and Carry. They carry the same dutch cheeses as JB and you can but half the wheel for the price of 100g. They have good candy too.
                            PHONE: 403-290-1838
                            LOCATION: 3815 16 Street SE. Calgary, AB T2G 4W5
                            HOURS OF OPERATION: Mon– Fri 8:00-4:30, Sat 9:00-3:00, Sun CLOSED

                          2. I am from the Outaouai as well. Though there are the mountains and the sunshine here in Calgary--prepare for some disappointment when it comes to recycling, lack of bulk items, housing costs, groceries cost, anti-pet housing, and hire & fire organizations.

                            I too am looking for bulk items that I can not find here in Calgary. Tofu, earth friendly soaps and shampoo, glycerin, soap powder, and washing soda.

                            Community Natural Foods has a good section of pasta, grains, flours, and herbs but, really it has a small bulk section. Superstore has lots of sweet treats, some pasta, nuts, flours, and some basic spices.

                            I am now looking to buy my bulk items on line if anyone knows a business?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: WhiskySunshine

                              Have you tried Planet Organic? They sell everything you've listed and have a pretty good bulk section. There are two locations; Elbow & Southland Drives SW and Varsity Village, 4625 Varsity Drive NW (just off Shaganappi Tr).

                              1. re: WhiskySunshine

                                curbside recycling will finally arrive in 2009. In the meantime, there are many, many private companies that offer curbside service. Recycling centres are all over the city. Yes this is all years behind the rest of the country recycling is still far from impossible here.

                                Rentals that allow pets are hard to come by but for dog owners Calgary is the best city in the country for one reason: No city in the entire world has more off-leash areas. Not one. Ottawa has four; Calgary has more than 70.

                                1. re: WhiskySunshine

                                  You can buy tofu by the piece at T and T .

                                  1. re: WhiskySunshine

                                    You want bulk glycerin and washing soda? I've bought washing soda in a box at Safeway. Glycerin is very likely at Michael's in the cake decorating department but it would be in bottles.

                                  2. I was flipping channels today and saw a cbc show called Calgary living.I missed
                                    most of it but according to what I saw there is a new? bulk store in Calgary.The
                                    segment was shot in store and you could see two walls of bulk food in the
                                    background.It might be worth a look to someone living in the area.

                                    Weigh To Go
                                    Southland Crossing shopping center
                                    415-9737 Macleod Trail s

                                    http://www.weigh2go.ca/