Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Jul 13, 2009 04:11 PM

Loblaws for losers ? well, loses me anyway - off to Sobey's I go !

Having always been a big fan of Loblaws, I have noticed the increasing supply chain problems that for all Galen's fancy advertising do not seem to have been remediated. Nor is their "butcher" department worth much - no real "butchering."

This afternoon I stopped by at Bathurst/St Clair to buy basics: meat for a pot roast, veggies for ditto, scotch broth for ditto, some foil containers to put small portions thereof in, and some Diet Coke, my poison of choice ! Hardly exotic items.

Yet at their flagship store (I think), one of, anyway, the foil section had been squeezed into a new position with hardly anything other than pizza foils and turkey pans; the "butcher" couldn't find or explain the lack of any top or bottom round roasts suitable for pot roast (there were sirloin roasts at twice the price no thanks); there was no scotch broth; and - to cap it off - NO Diet Coke in 2 L bottles.

At this point I abandoned my cart (containing a few veggies), uttered some imprecations and drove over to the little Sobey's on St Clair E of Yonge; its square footage might be as large as a quarter of Loblaws - and found everything I needed in 5 mins.

Diet Coke, round roasts, foil containers - not Pusateri's stock in trade. Ordinary everyday items wanted on Monday at 5 pm - ample time to have re-stocked over the weekend.

I give up - Sobey's will henceforth be my first stop. I will go to Loblaw's only for the few PC products that are imgo irreplacable such as Memories of Schezuan peanut sauce, etc.

Sad sad sad

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yeah, its bad there... not to mention the poor staffing of the checkouts.

    1. I hear you -- that Loblaws is frequently out of really basic items. You end up getting half of what you need for recipes -- I've been there when they haven't had (on different occasions) rice, coconut milk, chicken stock, ground chicken or frustrating!

      1. They are currently renovating and/or reworking that location, so perhaps supply will improve soon.
        I have to agree with Squakycheese about the checkouts. The lines are always, always long and slow and the staff is often less than great.

        3 Replies
        1. re: toveggiegirl

          Interesting -- I haven't noticed that they are renovating - it's our local. They've been like that for the years I've been shopping there. Loblaws has had notorious supply issues -- they've been through a few COOs in the past few years. Things have been improving somewhat (I haven't seen the entire rice section empty in awhile) but I'm always wary.

          1. re: Arcadiaseeker

            They closed the store early last week and were clearing out many items they are no longer going to stock. They widened the second to last isle and reorganized the items. It took me a long time to find my pop. They are now giving out have maps of the store! It seems like they are mid-restructuring so perhaps it will improve if given a little time.
            I wish the shopping experience were better as I really like President's Choice products and most items are less expensive than at Sobeys or Metro. At the latter especially, rices really seemed to hve risen in the past few months.

            1. re: toveggiegirl

              A map??? Seriously?? That is hilarious -- I have not been in a couple of weeks so I will definitely make a point of popping in. We like Pres. Choice too and I actually am not a fan of Sobeys (we have a baby and they don't have nearly the same selection of diapers etc). I just find Loblaws frustrating from a stock point of view and also from a fruit and veg point of view -- very little local stuff (if any at all!). Ah well.

        2. I went to the Loblaws at Queen's Quay tonight- they had everything I needed and some excellent sales on food and pharmacy products (plus the LCBO and Joe Fresh Store). There was no line-up at all and the service was quick and friendly.
          I dunno, I think Loblaws is making improvements and that they've brought down some of their prices on some basics.

          9 Replies
          1. re: meld_la

            i never have that issue at Queens Quay Loblaws.

            the only thing i can never seem to get their is the small container of PC Organic Baby Spinach, but everything else is always stocked to the T sales or otherwise.

            To OP, if it's not too far out of your way, give the Queens Quay Loblaws a try. Free parking FTW

            1. re: c_snapper

              It is hit or miss I suppose. My favourite grocery stores period is the Loblaws super store at weston road and the 401. It has a huge selection of many ethnic/regular brands. A huge organic section, excellent bakery and fish counter. The meat selection is the only thing lacking there. Definately worth checking out though. Add in home/kitchen items that change with the seasons, as well as joe clothing. You can never get out of there in under an hour.

              1. re: pancake

                I find the No Frills at Yonge and 16th to be exceptional - huge variety of everything, and they've never been out of stock of anything I want. Plus, the prices are about 5-10% lower than at the Loblaws a few miles north. Sobeys is last on my list, even below Dominion/Metro (which is expensive but is open 24 hours).

              2. re: c_snapper

                If I must go to a regular grocery store then generally I'll hit the Loblaws Queens Quay. That's only because, once parked, you have the entire trifecta available. Loblaws, LCBO Cooper, and the SLM.

                I agree with Bigtigger, though, in that Sobey's has become superior to Loblaws and done so in a very short while.

                1. re: Googs

                  I'm surprised you would say that. Sobey's is significantly more expensive than Loblaw's and has a much smaller selection of absolutely everything. Their exclusive (some of the private label products are identical - other than the label - at all of the chains) Complements products are fewer in number and generally inferior to their PC equivalents.

                  Loblaw's has better quality beef and chicken than Sobey's. Sobey's fish tends to be more consistent in quality than the fish at Loblaw's, but the selection is tiny. I find Sobey's to consistently have the worst (as well as the most expensive) produce of all the major chains.

                  The shopping experience at every chain varies drastically from store to store. All of the chains have stores across the entire spectrum from excellent to awful.

                  1. re: embee

                    I never buy produce at a chain grocery store. It's always from the Farmers' Market at SLM or St Jamestown Steak & Chops. No chain grocer has shown themselves capable of sourcing and stocking produce well. None.

                    Sobey's always has AAA beef available, something Loblaws just doesn't deliver consistently. I can always get the butcher at my local Sobey's to custom cut. They're never too busy. Sobey's carries Kerr Farms beef. If you've seen the price of that stuff at Whiteveen's at SLM I can tell you I hand over my money to Sobey's with a smile on my face.

                    Sobey's also doesn't back me into the corner with forced choices. Loblaws simply does not carry any major brands that compete effectively with the President's Choice line. This lack of choice is noticed by some. I personally find it a real irritant. If I needed daddy to tell me what I wanted I'd ask him. That means you Galen Weston!!!

                    1. re: Googs

                      Loblaw 'Tender and Tasty' is specified Canada AAA or USDA Choice. In my local store (Liverpool) it has supplanted Angus or Kerr.
                      I heard that Kerr was in bankruptcy, maybe they survived.
                      It appears as if Loblaw got in trouble with their use of USDA Choice in 'Tender and Tasty'. Too bad they can't guarantee a Canada AAA selection, or Ontario AAA from Cargill in Guelph.

                2. re: c_snapper

                  I've seen occasional stocking issues at the Queens Quay Loblaws. They're generally better than the one at Dupont and Christie, where I used to shop.

                3. re: meld_la

                  The only Loblaws related store we go to now a days is No Frills and that's to pick up PC products and basic items. The Loblaws at Queen's Quay has always been well stocked so no surprise that you found everything you needed. However they have gone down hill in service and stock at other locations. My wife and I hate going to the Superstore as it's crowded, pricey and you have to bag your own groceries (I can do that at No Frills for a cheaper price!). As I've mentioned on other topics on this board, Highland Farms has become our main grocer and my neighbourhood location is small, but they have what I need in stock and their quality is consistently good.

                4. Not the Toronto Loblaws but here are my observations from the 2 loblaws closest to me.
                  I go to many different grocery stores as certain products I like are only stocked at one location in the whole city (I like Golden Kitchen blinzes....only 1 store in all of ottawa sells that brand....)

                  But anyways,
                  Loblaws at Elmvale-I used to try and buy vegetarian products like Yves and for around 3 months last year over half the stock was expired.
                  I brought it up to the attention of the manager, well first customer service and they did nothing, left items there for 2 weeks.
                  Then spoke to manager.

                  The Billings Bridge Loblaws (now Independant), their "fancy" cheese section contains a lot of cheese that is either expired or with a best before of a few days...not too impressed.

                  Also, the stores that have a clearance cart or section many times products will have labels with a pink? tag over the bar code and when I've tried to look under those labels the products were out of date...

                  My unpleasant grocery experience this week was at Metro.
                  Was going to buy some lychees and they were moldy in the bin they were stored in the refrigerated section?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MiriamOttawa

                    I've had really bad luck at every grocery store in Ottawa that I've been to with lychees. Every time I buy them, they are either extremely sour / overripe or they become moldy within a few hours of getting them home. I think I'll stick to the Chinatown lychees - they may be expensive, but they're big and perfectly ripe and delicious.

                    1. re: vorpal

                      For some reason, grocery stores like to spray their vegetables with water. I guess they think it looks better to the consumer. I've always disliked this practice since it encourages bacterial growth and deterioration on the vegetables/fruits. Most places in Chinatown and/or Asian grocery stores will not do that for that reason. Wish they would stop doing that.