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Sep 15, 2007 12:35 PM

Favorite en vrac/ bluk store

I know there are a few out there besides Costco. Any favorites? What do buy that’s a great deal–chocolate, nuts, chesses?

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  1. I am partial to Frenco nearby Schwartz, but mainly because I live so close. They have bulk nuts, grains, beans, dried fruits, herbs and spices, peanut butter and other stuff in bulk. Pricewise it is not extremely cheap, but everything I bought from there was good quality.

    1. Arktik, is Costco an "en vrac" store, or "bulk" in that sense? I thought it was just "bulk" in the sense that one had to buy a lot of stuff at once. I've never shopped there, though I have friends who do - I live in a fairly large 3 1/2 and don't have room to store a lot of stuff, and fear I'd let a lot of it go to waste.

      My friends did buy me a large hunk of soft goat's cheese at Costco's - what is called "chèvre" in English-speaking parts - it was MUCH cheaper than at any of the shops I know, though I am notoriously cheap and find the cheapest places.

      I live near the Jean-Talon market, so here natural foods shop Alfalfa (a bit cheaper than Frenco, and as good quality) and Anatol spices, which sells quite a few "vrac" items.

      Emeril, I find the notorious Segall's next to Frenco's useful for many things and great deals, though I don't tend to buy anything "vrac" from them as I don't find the store clean enough - idem fresh vegetables. Where do you find fresh veg in your area - Warschaw used to be very good, dans l'temps (though it fell into decline before it closed). The former "4 frères/bros" (is that Sakaris now?) between Marie-Anne and Mt-Royal isn't bad - or do you go up to P.A. or to the JT Market?

      4 Replies
      1. re: lagatta

        I do shop at Segal's too, but only for packaged and branded stuff. My partner and I even refer to the place as "the mousetrap market"; not that we have seen real mice but the atmosphere suggests that the place is not extremely hygienic. So, I don't really feel comfortable buying open items from there either. Most of the fruits and veggies are not top quality anyway (and occasionally sourced from the other end of the planet); yet for pasta, canned goods, soymilk, milk, yogurt, nut butters and other stuff that are packaged and have known sources, I don't think you can get a better deal in town.

        For fresh stuff I go to Jean Talon as frequently as I can. My other source is Fruiterie du Plateau (at Roy and Berri) especially if I work until late, or feel lazy and don't mind paying a little more. Their stuff is always good quality, they have excellent selection despite the tiny space; but of course, everything is priced for the added convenience. Provigo (gasp, don't tell anyone) sometimes works too; I got pink Quebec tomatoes the other day and they were pretty decent.

        There is also a 24 hr open 4 freres store somewhere around Prince Arthur and Pins, nothing to write home about, but excellent for those times when you need something after hours. But nothing beats a trip up to JTM, especially these days.

        1. re: emerilcantcook

          Prince-Arthur and Pine? You sure about that intersection, or is it St-Laurent (or some other street) between the two?

          1. re: JQReid

            Corrected. Obviously, two parallel streets cannot intersect, but they did in my mind. I was thinking whether it was PA and St Laurent or Pine and Saint Laurent. I think it is the former.

            1. re: emerilcantcook

              Only obvious in our geometry. Seriously, I had a professor who was always going on about parallel lines intersecting "at infinity." But that's another story.

              I do agree with you on Provigo, though. During any times the JTM is not a viable option, it's a surprisingly good sub. My main beef is with their packaging. Not as bad as Metro, but still, you don't have to wrap and styro-pack sweet potatoes. So I prefer Loblaws. Either way, it's at least consistent for quality, and for imported items they do get first dibs. Too many people underestimate the buying power of big money.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. I was wondering about "always go to Sunsource" as it seemed to have just opened - talking about the one on Laurier near St-Urbain; I didn't know there was an older one in a part of town I rarely get to. Will pop in - it looked like just another bulk foods place (and some of them are utterly dreadful and stink of bad, chemically, overly-sugary things - you know the places).

          1. re: lagatta

            For most en vrac I go to the place (I am notoriously bad with names) next to Milano on St. Laurent. I also buy some spices at the Atwater market vrac store. Nuts and other assorted goodies like that, if I don't feel like going all the way to either market I get at Akhvan. But I live in NDG.

            1. re: maisonbistro

              I presume you mean Anatol Spices, one of the places I mentioned. Akhvan is great, but very far west for me, not very close to my friends near Monkland in NDG.

        2. There is also Aubut beside the atwater market where restaurants goes for their essential. No membership needed. They have fruits and veggies, frozen meats, cheese ( i don't think there are really a good bargain), bread, milk, eggs, can foods...its like a Costco cross-over with a grocery store. You dont really have to buy in bulk.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cerise828

            Has anyone been to the Presto cash & carry store on Henri-Julien and Du Carmel, lately? And is this what the OP meant by "bulk" store? I know there are a few cash & carry places around Marché Central. There's Club Entrepot Provigo.

            There are others too:

          2. I like Folie en Vrac on Mont-Royal, but they don't actually have that huge of a bulk selection. They do carry many nice organic, health, and specialty items though.