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LOBLAWS Deathwish

Recently returned to the Loblaws at Christie and Dupont after their "renovations". Now the decor matches the demeanor of the customer sevice staff. Very cold and unforgiving. They have moved to self checkout, elminating the only warmth in the building: the cashiers.

Was looking for a special, and of course no one knew that it had been sold out on day one, and in fact most staff were totally unaware where SUGAR would be located. This is not some new product, or esoteric item the Kid has stocked up on to flog, but an everyday necessity.

Went to Customer Service, and while asking the clerk about the special, a worker grabbed my empty cart and returned it to the parking lot! I told the CS person that I wasn't finished shopping!!! Her retort " we don't like to see empty carts at the front
of the store.!!! With the frosty atitude and the industrial ambience, they may only have empty carts at the front of the store, no customers.

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  1. Wow...this is so true...I was just in the Loblaws near me...Millwood/Redway and the same process is underway...the place is SO COLD now...the lighting isn't at all attractive and the place just looks very unappealing...they aren't finished yet but I didn't like what I saw...makes the Metro look warm and cozy!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: tochowchick

      And they replaced their proper rotisserie with a combi-oven.

      1. re: embee

        Didn't notice that...just sped in last night to pick up one thing and was taken aback by the change...I won't be rushing back any time soon...

    2. Have they gone to ALL self serve checkouts, or simply added some? The cashiers at the (completed) Gerrard/VP location are, if anything, friendlier than they were in the past.

      4 Replies
      1. re: embee

        I hope it's not all self serve checkouts, what a mess. If there's no one in line at all I'll use the self serve but have you ever been behind someone that can't handle it or decides to let their 2 year old check everything trough? It can take days...

        1. re: abigllama

          I had the same question! They are just finishing renovations on my local store (Oshawa), and they've seemingly gone all self-serve. Not completely, though. They still scan the items, but you have to bag them yourself at each and every checkout.

          Ridiculous. How are they going to get around the issue of some people have physical/health impairments? Idiots.

          1. re: Bueno

            I go to the one at Dundas and Royal York in the west end. They have added self-serve but they have also kept the regular checkout. They even have a separate person at each lane to bag for you (instead of the cashier scanning and bagging). There are also more cashiers working (I go every Sunday afternoon) so the wait time has been a lot less.

        2. re: embee

          not all. was there a couple weeks back for the oyster specials and there was definitely a long line of cashiers. i think the self-checkout greets you first though but certainly is not any more than the "usual".

        3. They are renovating the one on Lakeshore in Port Credit as well. I'm not sure if they've finished yet, but last time I was in it had a big box store atmosphere.

          4 Replies
          1. re: tjr

            The irony is tough to miss. Costco, while the epitome of "BIG BOX" in physical terms, is staffed with conscientious crews who "get" CRM and try to make you happy. Loblaws with Weston at the helm is circling the drain, and the derangement only deepens as the RPMs increase. I often hear customers bellowing for checkers around the Mississauga Loblaws when they're herded to the self-serve check-outs. My already-short Loblaws shopping list will shrink to invisisbility if they ditch old school check-out.

            1. re: Kagemusha

              I've been so disappointed with the Loblaws in my area that I'll only go for certain sale items, and for cartons of PC pineapple juice, which imo, is the best product they sell there.

              1. re: tjr

                The only thing I go there for is PC organic chicken broth. I purchase a dozen Tetra-Paks at a time so I don't have to step foot in the place again for weeks.

                1. re: Tatai

                  It is remarkably good chicken broth isn't it.

          2. Two words: Fiesta Farms. I stopped going to Loblaw or Loblaw's or whatever they're called this week. Even for PC Points I won't go. The Christie Dupont location was all right for a while there but all right isn't enough. So, Fiesta Farms gets my grocery money and my impulse purchase money and in the summer, my garden money. In return I get quality, competitive pricing, a variety of choice on the shelf and the knowledge that I'm not making Galen Weston that much richer.

            8 Replies
            1. re: escoffier

              I think the Loblaws at Vic Park and Gerard, after renos, is better than it was...........but my heart belongs to Highland Farms.

              If it wasnt so far from my house, I'd never go elsewhere. Their meat counter, pasta selection, produce and great prices on staples all things of beauty. Plus they will bag your groceries and not snarl at you.

              BTW, did you see the Loblaws ad with Master Weston in a house that looks like it is in Pickering? Yeah, like I am so sure ..........

              1. re: Vern Ryerse

                Highland Farms every time! And why so few and in such far away suburban locations :( One of the best things they do is NO MUZAK!! It's so peaceful..... the vegetables are outstanding, one of the few places you can always find viola eggplants.

                1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                  The great thing about Highland Farms (the Mississauga location, anyway) is that there are always many cashiers available. Other grocery stores just don't seem to get this. What is the point of having 12 checkout lanes if you ever only have 5 cashiers on duty at most, even at peak shopping times?

                  I don't get the 'cheapening' of Loblaws either. They are just blowing good money on renovations to create an appearance of cheapness while still charging the old fancy-pants prices. But marketing only gets you so far.

                  1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                    Highland Farms once had a store at Danforth and Arundel. I lived two minutes away. It was a truly disgusting place, with poor quality merchandise, non-existent service, and a revolting smell that I can't really describe.

                    Something changed along the way. Perhaps it was a generational change, but they do indeed have nice stores now. Their cleanliness obsession seems almost a reaction formation to their old downtown store. These stores are in the burbs because it isn't economic to build stores this size anywhere near downtown.

                    Highland Farms is not a high end quality store. It was originally modeled on Knob Hill, but they evolved while Knob Hill didn't, and Knob Hill died. Highland has a very good grocery and produce selection. Though they have huge service counters for meats and deli, the quality of what they sell there is pretty poor. Paradoxically, they provide less service at their service counters than Loblaw's, or Metro, or Sobey's. Just one example: if you want, say, a steak cut thicker than the ones on display, they typically refuse. Until fairly recently, I recall lining up to get produce weighed before checking out, a practice that had disappeared from every other chain (except Knob Hill) decades ago.

                    1. re: embee

                      Just out of curiosity, when did the Highland Farms at Danforth and Arundel exist?

                        1. re: embee

                          I remember that store from the early 1980's. I think the name and the chain was bought out by a different family.
                          Now I really like "Sun Valley" on the Danforth. Always clean.

                2. re: escoffier

                  Fiesta Farms has its virtues. Unfortunately, convenience to me isn't one of them. It's a very interesting store and one of the few that seems open to customer requests. That said, I've found the quality of the meats and fish at Fiesta Farms to be well below my expectations. Loblaw's (at least a good one) has better quality stuff on offer.

                3. There are opportunities for self check-in at Loblaw's Christie/Dupont, but also plenty of cashiers who do bag your groceries (maybe not at the express 8 item counters or whatever they are). At St Clair and Bathurst the service is unchanged. I don't think Loblaw's is perfect by any means but generally they offer a good selection of products (especially PC ones) and perfectly adequate service.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Bigtigger

                    You've obviously never been to Leslie/Lakeshore! This is a huge store with a severely truncated merchandise selection. Service counters are often unstaffed and produce on display may be rotten. The out of stock situation is unbelievable, often much worse than the chainwide (already poor) norm. Some of the customer service staff does not honour Loblaws' posted return policies. All bagging is self bagging, all the time. This store is at Loblaw's highest price level - it isn't a No Frills.

                    1. re: embee

                      Agreed. I used to live in the lofts opposite, but I would go to No Frills at Gerrard & Carlaw rather than buy that gruesome produce. Even Price Chopper blew it away.

                      Who eats that stuff?

                      1. re: embee

                        ACtually, last time I was there (i.e. Leslie st. Loblaw), a staffer was bagging in my checkout line. Be thankful it's self-bagging, I tell you. Bag of potatoes on top of the loaf of bread...sure. I cut him off before he got to the eggs.

                        And whoever complains about the self-serve checkout should also re-consider. The last few humans I had were literally chucking my stuff down the convayer belt. Maybe they were being considerate in turning my tomatoes into sauce, thus saving me the effort.

                          1. re: grandgourmand

                            While I agree that there are such cashiers/baggers out there, I am so not interested in the self-checkout. There are always items that don't scan, don't have the code. I always do something that causes the machine to get snarly, like take something out of the bag by accident, or put something in so it's not centered, and the weight doesn't register correctly. Then, there are the items that are just too big to bag. Oh, and what if I drank that Yop in the store... then, the machine tells me it's an incorrect weight. When I'm self-checking out, I am constantly requesting assistance, waiting for the staff person to approve the irregularity and reset the machine... And, by the time I finally get out of there, my brow is sweaty, and I feel as though I deserve a paycheque.

                        1. re: Bigtigger

                          I couldn't agree more, Christie/Dupont is my local store, I have found more positive things than negative since the 'reno'....I can honestly say that I have never had a 'bad/rude' clerk...the self serve is very handy for those who are in a hurry...sometimes there is a bit of a wait at it when someone is confused about how to use it correctly but generally I think it works well....as for the regular checkout, well, sometimes not enough Cashiers but they are working on it and I have to add the New Manager is more than pleasant/capable, she accepts suggestions willingly . I love the 'look' of the store..it is spotless..the fish counter is outstanding in its clean, crisp appearance. I find it improved both in looks and service. I hate the Forest Hill branch, to be fair I only used it when my Dupont branch was in the throes/upheaval during the 'reno'..too big, too impersonal etc. I have been a customer at Dupont since it opened, I am 'known' there, I go (and have always done so) out of my way to be friendly and courteous to the Staff....Has that made a difference?? You betcha! (thanks to Sarah Palin, if only for the phrase...)

                        2. How can anyone complain when you can go to a Loblaws and not a Metro?....I would rather have access to the most digusting Loblaws in the world than the College Park Metro.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: canadianbeaver

                            Granted, the College Park Metro is awful. There's a space issue that can't be changed, and this affects the entire downtown core. Most North American cities have neither supermarkets, nor residents to shop in them, downtown. That's one reason why Loblaw's was going to build a Real Canadian Superstore at MLG. It was a great location, but downtown isn't a superstore kind of place and Loblaw's Ontario proved incompetent at running superstores anyway. College Park also has serious people issues that damn well should be fixed, but management clearly doesn't care.

                            Both Loblaw's and Metro have good stores and (very) bad ones. You can check out the Metro at Danforth/VP, or even the small one at Bayview/Eglinton. You'll find it hard to believe that these stores and College Park are owned by the same company. The Danforth/VP Metro and VP/Gerrard Loblaw's (one of Loblaw's better stores, a couple of blocks away) are quite comparable, and Loblaw's isn't 24 hours.

                            The problem is that Loblaw's was once a great place to shop. It isn't any more, and their million dollar overhauls are not making things any better. The Loblaw's nearest my home, noted above, is awful and, unlike the College Park Metro, there's no excuse for the conditions at this place. Unfortunately, though Wegman's is based in a city (Rochester, of all places) visible from the upper floors of the Toronto apartment building where I once lived, they will never cross the border.

                            Toronto has much great food, but no really great supermarkets. Loblaw's used to be great, but that was a long time ago.

                          2. I used to like that Loblaws. Now that you mentioned it, I noticed that I seldom go in there anymore.
                            I personally could care less if it seems cold or impersonal. I just want to shop, not make friends. Or at least, I thought I did. Maybe it's why I almost never go into a Loblaws or GCSS.
                            I do the bulk of my shopping at Costco, Wal-Mart and I'm really buying more and more from a local farm with naturally raised beef and pork.

                            I supplement that with Dominion so I can get air-miles.


                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Davwud

                              I don't really mind the idea of teenagers who don't really care about their jobs and providing poor service at the grocery store, except that part of the bad service often translates into other bad things (like leaving rotting produce out).

                              If the stores were immaculate, the products good, and it had most items I could possible want, I wouldn't care if there were any human interaction at Loblaws/Metro. When I go to a grocery store, I know what I'm getting, go in, get it, and leave. If I go to a butcher or fishmonger though, I expect not only better service (and more knowledgeable service), but a better product as well. The same goes for any sort of specialty shop.

                                1. re: Davwud

                                  Hey Man....I have enough' friends'.....My experience at Loblaws, Shoppers.,The Bay or even the dreaded Bell Service Centres etc....is made better because I care about people and go out of my way to be as polite, pleasant and courteous as I can. Unless I have been treated with hostility or just plain rudeness, then I do take action via the Store Manager....for as little as those Clerks are paid, a pleasant customer who treats them as employees and not servants seems to result in an all round better shopping experience.

                                  1. re: pearlD

                                    That is a good point, pearlD. I certainly wouldn't want to be working service because of the way I've seen (the majority of) customers behave. It's across the board now -- I shop everywhere -- but while we are on the subject of Loblaws, going back a decade or so, they were in their high phase and were definitely charging more over the competition, never mind No Frills. And then I noticed when you went into a Loblaws there were the well-dressed shoppers, driving near-luxury vehicles but whose behaviour belied their neat and well-mannered grooming.
                                    Wherever I go, I find a Hello at the beginning and a Bye/Have a nice day at the end alters my own experience of the place.

                                    1. re: neighborguy

                                      Embe posted the following (hey, cut and paste! My computer skills are improving!)

                                      "Granted, the College Park Metro is awful. There's a space issue that can't be changed, and this affects the entire downtown core. Most North American cities have neither supermarkets, nor residents to shop in them, downtown. That's one reason why Loblaw's was going to build a Real Canadian Superstore at MLG. It was a great location, but downtown isn't a superstore kind of place and Loblaw's Ontario proved incompetent at running superstores anyway. College Park also has serious people issues that damn well should be fixed, but management clearly doesn't care."

                                      This is quite true... I talked to a manager at Loblaws, they basically think that the downtown stores have little effective competition, so they run them on a shoestring budget. They prefer to invest in the Great Cdn Superstores where they are competing with Walmart/Costco etc. Walmart has really hurt them, I get the impression that they are just reacting to a more competitive environment; cutting people on checkouts saves money short term but frankly if I am going to drive to the lakeshore Loblaws I am so pissed of with the place I might as well go to St. Lawrence Mkt instead and support small businesses, probably cheaper too! I can buy toilet roll etc. at my corner store.

                            2. I find the Loblaws at Bayview and Moore, and Yonge/York Mills to be fairly decent, with some expansion in the produce and local ingredients product lines. Great Quebec cheese. While the expansion in produce is interesting, the quality seems to be slipping, as they aren't making the effort to educate the customers about the new offerings.

                              In terms of overall shopping experience, though, I wonder why people simply don't go to the downtown T and T on Cherry Street. Some of the best produce around, with a very good seafood counter, and amazing takeout. For these areas, it's definitely got Loblaws' and Metro's backsides kicked.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Snarf

                                I shopped this weekend at the Redway outlet off of Laird Dr.
                                I felt sooooo sorry for the cashiers.
                                First off, they have been renovating for what appears to be an eternity ( a few weeks at least) and the store is bare of stock. Even Insider Report products are sometimes non-existent.
                                Back to the cashiers... the checkout counters have these long conveyor belts now so you can load off almost your entire cart if it is full. However at the other end you have a little stump of a thing that gets backed up as the bagger (they provide that) can not possibly keep up with the cashier. In fact the bagger was still bagging the previous order when she started funneling our order through and we had to watch carefully so the kid did not mix things up.
                                Also, not every cashier had a bagger and the ergonomics for the worker is terrible. I commented to both the cashier and the bagger that this new setup was terribly inefficient and I asked if this was temporary. Unfortunately they replied that it was not and they thanked me for my words of sympathy.
                                What are they thinking???

                                1. re: Poorboy

                                  That's the new checkout design they will be using. They weren't thinking. They aren't thinking.

                                  1. re: embee

                                    Maybe they're gradually switching to the system seen in ALDI stores.... really long conveyor belt so you can unload your entire cart on it, but the checkout person just dumps all your groceries right into the cart off the end rather than bother with bagging.... much faster. Of course you'd never see ALDI prices at a Loblaws even with this cost savings....

                              2. They renovated the Loblaws (or Loblaw Good Food as it's now called) near me, East Mall/Burnhamthorpe. It's difficult to find what you are looking for and the whole atmosphere changed. We now go to Longo's for everything we don't pick up at the St. Lawrence Market. I'll now only go to Loblaws for something I can't find elsewhere.

                                1. Be thankful that you have Loblaws instead of Real Canadian Superstore. They have more non food items than food leaving the food highly neglected. The shelves are regularly out of stock and the kicker is..... Milton doesn't even provide bags! Bring your own or buy cloth ones there because if you don't you'll have to pack all your loose groceries in your car. This isn't a NoFrills and ALL the other RCSS have plastic bags

                                  I asked a manager when they would be reducing their prices since they had reduced their service. I got a song and dance about the environment. I say keep your politics to yourself and bag my groceries because I certainly paid for it!

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: jillybean38

                                    Well it seems that Loblaws is getting slagged every which way possible...they better get their collective act together...from what I read in all of these posts...the majority of people are very unhappy with them...it doesn't bode well for the future.
                                    I waited throught the reno of Dupont & Christie and believe me, it did try my patience. The 'new and improved' version is pretty good... I am still a loyal customer... I speak up when I have not been satisfied in one way or another (they have a new manager ) I have found them to be quite responsive and when and if that changes, I simply will go somewhere else, there is certainly no lack of choices in our city.
                                    A 'Wegman's" in our city would be terrfic...but don't hold your breath..it will not happen!

                                    1. re: pearlD

                                      The problem with Loblaws as I've posted many times in the past: they got into bed with the unions (in a kamikaze attempt to break Wal-Mart) rather than try to break the unions instead. Now they've dug themselves too deep a hole to get out of.

                                      How else can you explain the high prices, surly service, and short opening hours when compared to Sobeys and Metro (24/7) or even the local Independent which sells Loblaws stuff (open 8AM-midnight every day)....

                                      They shot themselves in the foot with those Superstores trying to copy Wal-Mart when they needed to simply improve what they were already good at and try to emulate Wegmans instead. You don't see Wegmans Supercenters anywhere...

                                      They need to have two distinct chains: Loblaws -- a Wegmans clone, and No Frills -- an ALDI clone. That's it. No more Phony Canadian Stupidstores, give up on trying to beat the Beast of Bentonville...

                                      1. re: TexSquared

                                        Wegman's doesn't need to break a union because, under current management policies, no sane union would try to get in there. I don't see Costco being unionized anytime soon.

                                        That said, I don't believe that breaking the unions is the way to go. Employees should be treated decently and paid fairly. Those that aren't should join unions, though Wal-Mart will close a profitable store rather than sign a fair contract. Supermarket employees (at least those working full time) used to have decent jobs at the major Canadian supermarket chains and were paid a living wage.

                                        Loblaw's was once considered a good employer. When A&P took control over Steinberg's, I recall the unions actually acknowledging that they were overpaid (Sam Steinberg had bought labour peace for many years). Nevertheless, it was more important to A&P to break the existing union contracts than to negotiate fairly.

                                        The "Wal-Martization" of retail isn't good for anyone. Much of the employee attitude at some Loblaw stores comes from a profound sense of fear (of job losses and salary/benefit cuts). An uncommunicative senior management, one making blatantly bad decisions without consulting the people who are affected most, increases fear and decreases morale even more.

                                        My personal experience is that the employee attitudes and shopping conditions at individual stores in every chain depend greatly on the store managers. Some seem able to transcend the failures of company policies. The worst stores in Toronto seem to be Metro stores in areas where they have no significant chain competition. Why improve the Metro at College Park or College/Clinton when the nearest Loblaw's is at Queens Quay?

                                        Loblaws' superstores did very well in Western Canada. I suspect that we would have had Wal-Mart Supercentres in Canada many years earlier had Wal-Mart not been at least a little afraid. Loblaw's seemingly covered the full market spectrum, from high end to low, including franchised No Frills outlets and independent stores using a Loblaw banner (e.g., ValuMart, Independent). When Loblaw's blew it, Wal-Mart marched in. I also suspect that the Real Canadian Superstores would have done better had they left the Calgary buyers and merchandisers in place instead of trying (unsuccessfully) to move everyone to Brampton.

                                        Regarding prices, the relative pricing of the three major chains is obviously a function of the specific product mix you buy. I've consistently found Loblaw's less expensive than Dominion and Dominion less expensive than Sobey's. I've consistently found Sobey's to have the poorest product selection. People posting here state that Metro has increased the overall price levels when they rebrand a Dominion store. I'm not yet in a position to support or dispute this.

                                        Regarding hours, I'm disappointed that Loblaws does not have 24 hour stores. However, I can't fault them on this one. It may very well not be worth their while to open. Many stores began to open all night on the premise that there was a night crew anyway, so someone ought to be able to work the cash and sell stuff. It works in some locations, but not in others.

                                        I agree completely with your bottom line, though. The Wegman's clone/Aldi clone model makes a great deal of sense. (Note, though, that No Frills IS a union shop.) Wegman's does, indeed, have superstores, at least in their size. Their newest store is something like 140,000 sq ft (and it isn't 24 hours). The difference is that these huge stores are mainly about food. PC products remain the best private label products available overall, but the major addition in the revamped Loblaw's stores is clothing. Joe Fresh is, indeed, a great idea, but you can't exactly eat it. The Sheridan Drive Wegman's in Buffalo has an excitement that I haven't felt at Loblaw's in more than fifteen years.

                                        1. re: embee

                                          Thanks for the reply, I knew you would come out on this one (being our resident expert, and I say that with respect, honestly!)

                                          When I referred to a "Wegmans supercenter" you knew I meant a Wegmans clone of a Wal-Mart Supercenter (food on one side, department store on the other), and not just a mega-sized supermarket with food only. Something Wegmans is smart enough not to try.

                                          I will say I was glad to see you agree with my suggestion to just have 2 Loblaws chains. I remember No Frills at one time, actually was like ALDI -- truly no frills, only selling house label (no name and PC) stuff. Now there's hardly a difference in price or selection between No Frills and Loblaws.

                                          And I agree, that Sheridan Drive Wegmans is a treat, I will be there Thanksgiving weekend for sure! Wegmans and ALDI, that's where to shop for groceries in Buffalo :-) Now if only Buffalo would get a Trader Joe's....

                                          1. re: TexSquared

                                            I am rooting for Trader Joe's to open a Buffalo location as well--so far Michigan is the closest for us. I think they are long overdue for one and they certainly would do brisk business from locals and Canadians like myself who would make frequent crossing over to fill up.

                                            1. re: ParsleySage

                                              I had heard so many good things about TJ's but never got to visit one until my trip to California last month; actually went to the original location in Pasadena. I was blown away; I had no idea they carried such a sizeable wine section too (I'd heard of Two Buck Chuck, which they had, but I didn't know the entire left wall of the store would be wines, and not just the California ones!). I know they have them in Detroit but I'm not over that way very often.

                                              One of the other CH threads discusses whether Buffalo should get a TJ or a Whole Foods. I say forget WF, go for TJ, they would get my business and a lot of it!

                                        2. re: TexSquared

                                          I think the problem's pure marketing.

                                          Loblaws was a tad more upper class, so why not own it with things like organic, local produce (Longos) or boutique it up a bit (Sobeys on Roncy). It's not like Whole Foods cares for Toronto's patronage - they have not hustled for the urban customer one bit.

                                          Toronto is the most under-served fine food grocery market of any city I have seen (and that's a lot). Some retailer will hopefully realize this one day.