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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

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  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 turkey...so 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?
                  yuck!

                  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.

                  2. We used to shop exclusively at Loblaws. Even when out and about it would be a Loblaws. Now, I can't tell you the last time I went into one. It's just not that good anymore.

                    We then switched to Dominion because it was closer geographically when we moved and they had air miles.

                    Due to some budgetary constraints we shop at Wal-Mart. It has a good selection and there's also a Sobey's near us so we can get the harder to find stuff there.

                    DT

                    1. I'm finding our local Loblaws (Lindsay) very frustrating. It must be an attempt to control inventory better, but too much stuff is out of stock, even on big shopping days when it should be piled high, e.g. cheese listed in the flyer. After one particularly bad experience, I wrote the manager, and never got the courtesy of a reply. Sounds like others are finding the same indifference.

                      1. While there is a huge Loblaws near me (Bayview & 7 - when it opened, it was the largest in Ontario) they are doing their darnedest to lose me as a regular customer. Several times recently, I've gone in with short lists of things to pick up and left with only half of them. Alcan wide-roll foil? Sorry, we don't carry it. Cotton cooking twine? Nope! Unico anchovy stuffed olives? Never have! The list goes on. None of these example falkl into the all-to-common green tagged "Item temporarily out of stock" category. I even discussed this with one of managers and I was told that they are deliberately trimming back on the items carried chain-wide. I guess one way to fix their well-documented supply chain problems is to carry fewer items!

                        Fish counter? I steer clear. Deli counter? About 1/3 the selection of Longos, which itself is about 1/3 the selection of Highland Farms. The meat department has freezer cases full of frozen boxed meats and a pitiful selection of butchered meats. Most produce is 50 cents to a $1 per pound more than other places and the quality is often lacking. One of the most bizarre aspects was while Westons (who controls Loblaws) still owned Neilson Dairy, Neilson Milk was cheaper at Sobey's by about 60 cents/4 litre bag. On top of that, the dairy case at Loblaws stunk all the time. But hey, they have a huge general merchandise department! (Ask me if I care! I'm there for groceries, not towels and t-shirts!)

                        Almost all my big shopping trips are now at Highland Farms (Dufferin, south of Steeles) It is much further but the produce meat departments alone justify the trip. They have an excellent selection of ethnic packaged foods, a great bakery and pastries department, milk and eggs seem to be perpetually on sale, the deli and cheese selection is great, I get my coffee custom roasted and the most of the staff have been around for years and seem to genuinely care about their customers. (Once, when I tried to speak to Produce Manager at the Loblaws, before I had even finished the first sentence, he cut me off with "I you don't like it, shop elsewhere!" I've been taking his advice, most of the time.)

                        I will often stop at No Frills (on Centre Street on my way home) for some packaged goods that I know will be cheaper. Surprisingly, that store also has a good produce department.

                        Occasionally, the sales in the flyer will entice me to Sobey's (Bathurst & 16th/Carrville) which is a nice store, featuring good produce, deli, meat, fish and dairy departments.

                        Longo's is actually the closest to me. It's a nice store, but lacks the selection that I get at Highland and can be pricey. For the past few months, it's been inconvenient with the construction going on.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: OTFOODIE

                          I live in the same area and that loblaws consistently rates the worst of chains in the area. I usually go to Longo's and the assorted Chinese markets in the area.

                          I'll only set foot in that loblaws if there is something in the flyer worth grabbing. I've never been to the Highland Farms as that is a bit too far for me to venture for a supermarket.

                          1. re: aser

                            Highland Farms is fantastic. It's a foodie destination, if you ask me. Then again, I love grocery shopping. There's a great selection of "exotic" items (if you consider ukrainian carbonated beverages exotic), interesting produce, baked goods. They're weak in seafood and Asian foods, both of which you would get at Asian food stores on a separate trip, anyways. And yes, the staff seems to know what they're doing, know where stuff is located, etc.

                            It's not convenient for me, but I make a detour.

                            Loblaws sucks. I only go for some PC products. Sobey's is better. Surprisingly a good source for off cuts of meat. And it's the only grocery store where I think the seafood is worth buying.

                            1. re: grandgourmand

                              ok, I'll give it a shot. I've never been to a highland farms in my entire life.

                              1. re: aser

                                I make Highland Farms (Ellesmere and Kennedy) a Friday destination, along with Diana's, P.A.T., Nasr, Costco, all in the area.

                                1. re: jayt90

                                  I found the highland at Elllesmere and Kennedy just about the worst supermarket I have ever been in. The Fruits and vegetables were fine but the other customers were abusive and arrogant goofs.
                                  The Highland store on highway 10 south of the 401 is a fantastic dream by comparison.

                              2. re: grandgourmand

                                I always said I loved going to the grocery store. That's where they keep the food.

                                DT

                                1. re: grandgourmand

                                  While Highland Farms is certainly a much better shopping experience than Loblaw's, Metro, or Sobey's, convenience does play a major role. If I lived near their Hurontario store in Mississauga, or even near Kennedy & Ellesmere, I'd shop there regularly. However, I don't have time to shlep these distances more than occasionally.

                                  Although I scored natural lamb casings at Highland Farms, I am not at all impressed by their meat. Despite the enormity of their meat departments, and the personal service, I find them unwilling to custom cut meat. The quality level is not very high and the staff, with few exceptions, is not well informed. They are a great source of "off cuts".

                                  Highland certainly has the best produce of the big stores, as well as a much wider range of general groceries than the majors. They are more likely than the majors to list new or requested products.

                                  The ethnic food range is mainly European. The narrow stock of Asian foods is undoubtedly due to the Asian supermarkets located closer to Asian population centres. However, I'm surprised the Kennedy Rd store doesn't carry more.

                                  I'm not surprised by the absence of Jewish ethnic foods, given the store locations. They carry very little Jewish food of any kind.

                                  While there is a large stock of commercial baked goods, I don't agree with your assessment. I rate Highland fairly low on breads (despite the large stock) and even lower on cake and pastry. Seafood is almost non-existent.

                                  I assume that tight family control plays a major role in what they do. (Longo's has reached the point where family control is weakening, and it'll be interesting to see what happens there over the next few years.) Highland has enough stores to get some economies of scale, but is still small enough to avoid the logistical nightmare that has threatened Loblaw's very existence.

                                  It's a real pissoff that HF became a good place to shop after fleeing to the burbs. When I lived two minutes from their original location (Danforth & Arundel), Highland Farms operated a filthy, smelly, disgusting store to be avoided at all costs. Their evolution has been really impressive.

                                  1. re: embee

                                    It's easy to say that "Longo's has reached the point where family control is weakening", but how do you know that?
                                    From personal experience I haven't seen that happening, so is it just your opinion?

                                    1. re: longolame

                                      Based on business reports - not on personal experience. Not even opinion - more pure conjecture. The gist is that they've grown to the point where they can no longer have a family member watching over every store. As I said, it'll be interesting to see what happens there over the next few years.

                                      Growth doesn't inevitably lead to breakdown. My favourite chain supermarket, Wegman's, a private company, has grown successfully to more than seventy stores with the founding family still firmly in control. What makes Longo's a bit different is that they have always emphasized the family aspect as a (if not THE) defining feature of their business.

                                    2. re: embee

                                      Actually, the kosher/Jewish section at the Dufferin/Steeles Highland Farms location is quite decent. And they carry kosher meats and deli items.

                                      1. re: Tatai

                                        I forgot that they had a store in that area...

                              3. Loblaws' downward slide has been going on for a while now... the Victoria Park Market location did a 'reno' of sorts in the last 6 months, which entailed getting rid of all the interesting/alternative products they used to store to make more room for things like canned corned beef and PC sodas and other things I wonder who buys. On top of this, they installed these horrid new counters at the cashiers that cause a bottleneck with all your stuff after they've been scanned. I said at the time that it was to make people bag their own groceries [even though I was already always doing it, b/c I'm anal-retentive about packing], and this has proven to be true- people feel like jerks seeing all the food pile up, with a line behind them, and then waiting for the cashier to pack it. To boot, they also have serious out-of-stock issues as well.

                                Coupled with the beef recall a few weeks ago, Loblaws' trajectory is openly downward. The only Loblaws left worth going to is the Queen's Quay one, which is far superior to the others. I usually only end up at Loblaws when their Insider's Reports come out, which I still am a sucker for [even though I only like 20% of the products I try]. For an excellent all-around supermarket, I like Highland Farms- their produce and deli are excellent.

                                Oh, and those commercials with Galen totally rot me- I don't believe a Weston has ever eaten a Loblaws product, ever- stop trying to be down with the peeps!

                                1. The Queen's Quay and Leslie/Lakeshore Loblaws would be my locals.

                                  Leslie/Lakeshore pretty much lost me when they had spoiled beef and quite obviously not so fresh vegetables and fish as a fairly regular occurance. It was pretty disgraceful. This has since improved substantially, but they lost me forever when I discovered that homo milk is about $1.50 less expensive per 4l at the Price Chopper across the street, and a tub of goat cheese that was $11.99 at the Loblaws was $7.99 at Price Chopper. To add insult to injury I'm told that Loblaws owns Price Chopper - so the price difference has to be intentional. It's like they're ripping us off because they think people that shop at Loblaws would never set foot in a Price Chopper.

                                  Never had a problem with meat/fish/produce freshness at Queen's Quay, but they tend to be on the expensive side and have suffered from stock problems.

                                  Most of my shopping is at Sobey's or in Chinatown. But I was once a farily regular Loblaws shopper.

                                  I just can't get over the Loblaws/Price Chopper price differences on exactly the same items.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: herbs go karts

                                    Sobey's owns Price Chopper. (The Loblaw equivalent is No Frills). The price gap between Price Chopper and Sobey's is greater than the price gap between Price Chopper and Loblaw's.

                                    1. re: embee

                                      And they either own or buy for IGA. When I asked the people at Pape IGA why they only have Chinese garlic for most of the year, they said that is what the Sobey's buyers supply them with. Here is the Sobeys market presence :
                                      http://corporate.sobeys.com/English/O...

                                      1. re: embee

                                        oh, apologies to Loblaws.

                                        I've actually found several things that are more expensive at Price Chopper than at Sobey's - this could be a function of the specific locations I shop at though because I've noticed other Sobey's to be more expensive than mine.

                                        For the locations I frequent, Loblaws is often catastrophically more expensive than the competition

                                    2. ah, i am teacher and make it a summe rproject to compairison shop on my bike in my hood...here are some random discoveries i have shared in the past.... my dirty secret is to buy my PC products at valu mart (davisville/bayview) thus avoiding loblaws all together. i will pick some up from time to time from the st. clair market but that's only cause it's on top of my gym. a lot of produce is better/cheaper there than metro/sobeys but i'm still more likely to make the stop at yonge/eg metro for canned goods, etc, so get my off-season produce there too. sobey's randomly has sales on things like Source yogurt or Special K cereals and their salad bar is great, but metro has some of the best deals on fish and things the day before they expire - if you're not picky.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: LemonLauren

                                        While some Loblaw stores have expired, and sometimes rotting, food on display, other Loblaw locations are meticulous about clearing it out. The discount, at least for the moment, is 50%, far more than any other chain in the GTA.

                                        You need to cook or freeze last day poultry and fish, and the fish is usually not very nice, but beef and cheese are something else again. The 50% off soft cheeses are frequently close to perfect at that time - they are never ready to eat when bought at full price. The aged cheeses expire on the shelf much less often, but aren't even close to their end of life when they do.

                                        If you know how to choose good beef, you are buying at least a week of extra aging when you pay half price. If you have suitable conditions in your fridge, you can age the meat even more at home. Though some (including Stephen Alexander at Cumbrae's) claim you can't age a steak in the fridge, this isn't true. Given suitable fridge conditions (you can look up this info), you can take the wet aged beef home and dry age it in your fridge for one, two, or even three weeks longer. The taste and tenderness DO improve, sometimes remarkably. I've never had this become a microbiology experiment, though I acknowledge that different fridge conditions can spoil the meat.

                                        1. re: embee

                                          If the Loblaws stores I went to actually discounted the "old" items or near expiring ones that might be different- but pay full price for those....nope.
                                          I sometimes buy "day old" bagels from a bagelshop to make bagel chips and also buy a lot of chocolate and candy that is nearing expiry (depends like gummy candy is usually fine, "old" or near expiring chocolate is fine for baking or melting down...I had around 12 near expired random chocolate bars and have been using them for chocolate mousse that was very good....

                                          I find Loblaws seafood counter to be horrible.
                                          The shrimp are not "fresh" and are just defrosted. Also all their shrim also has preservatives, there are maybe 2 frozen kinds at Loblaws without phosphates as the preservative in them sometimes.....

                                          I can't eat foods with phosphate preservatives and it is very hard to find meats, bacon, shrimp without those- I usually buy shrimp from a fish shop and they have frozen shrimp with only salt as the extra ingredient.
                                          As for bacon and smoked meats i go to a local store that smokes their own foods without chemicals- they are actually cheaper than loblaws usually....

                                          Loblaws is decent for fresh chicken though-prices seem ok.
                                          The frozen meats I try and stay away from as they always have phosphate as a preservative as well......

                                          1. re: embee

                                            Before my local Loblaws stopped carrying anything but ground beef and butcher counter Certified Angus, they'd usually have quite a few steaks, tenderloin, etc. at 50%, usually on Thursdays. I've bought a lot of pretty decent beef there for pretty cheap because of it.

                                            Now that they no longer appear to carry CA at the self-serve, we see the 50% stickers less on their new "tender and tasty" beef (probably because the packaging was so similar to their regular beef).

                                            1. re: tjr

                                              Well, I must say I am too a shopper of Loblaws. Yes they have had their troubles in the past, I think things have improved immensly in Loblaws, especially the last 6 months. I shop Bathurst/St Clair store and also Dupont. I usually get everything I need and I must say the produce is the biggest improvement. Dupont is the nicer looking store, Bathurst has the largest variety. Deli is amazing, not sure why people are complaining.

                                              If you want to complain about a Loblaw owned store, try the Superstore 401/Weston. It is big lots of stuff, too bad the produce and meat deparments are always rotten and shelves are empty. I would never shop a Superstore

                                              1. re: shopper12347

                                                I believe Superstore employees earn less than the unionized employees at regular Loblaws. The morale may be lower, and the ratio of par time to full time higher. But in general part time is dominant, and a sure way to get poor performance on the job.

                                                1. re: shopper12347

                                                  I shop at the Loblaws at Victoria Park and Gerrard; while others have complained this store is not well-stocked, I have to say it hasn't affected me. I don't buy meat/deli or fish there, so I have no idea what those departments are like. Also, I have never shopped there during peak times, and so the new counter/conveyor belt setup at the cash hasn't created any trouble, whatsoever.

                                                  I must admit, though, that I also shop at other places, depending on the quality/price/specials: Bulk Barn, No Frills, Royal Beef, Costco, Superstore, Fresh from the Farm, T&T, and Sobey's. From time to time, I splurge at Longo's, and I try to get to a few Farmers' Markets over the summer.

                                                  Dropped by Highland Farms at Kennedy & Ellesmere today; it's the first time I've been there in 25 years, or so. Still looks the same! Red peppers were $1.00 cheaper per pound than at Loblaws, but I'm not sure the rest of the produce was as cheap, by comparison. Baskets of sweet cherries were priced well, but the cherries were soft, alas. (I've had much better cherries from both Sobey's and Loblaws this summer.) I would go back if in the area, but I won't be making special trips..

                                                  In terms of price, quality, selection, and convenience, Loblaws works best for me. I am a fan of some of the PC and Blue Menu products. The things I buy are more expensive at Sobey's and Metro, where I always feel ripped off, unless heading there for a specific sale.

                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                    Victoria Park (south) is one of the most convenient places to shop for food in Toronto. You have the Loblaw's, a Price Chopper, and one of Metro's best stores (at Danforth) within one minute of each other.

                                                    VP/Gerrard is Loblaw's best store in east end Toronto. The two recent renos certainly brightened the store, and the stock out situation is better there than at Leslie St. The staff also has a better attitude and the long time manager seems to be a good guy, though hamstrung (like everyone else at Loblaw's) by centralized buying policies.

                                                    The checkouts are, I suspect, a good idea implemented badly. The idea was that more carts could be unloaded, which would lessen wait times. The "bunch up" area at the end seems to have been designed to make bag loading easier for the cashiers, but the "bring you own bag" policy - Galen Jr's personal triumph - messed it up. I like the openness created by moving the magazine and candy racks away from the cash. Moving these high profit, impulse items seems an unusually customer-centred act that might not last for long. The new conveyors seem very cheaply built, which suggests that they might be experimental. Some recent signage suggests that they might be about to declare this a "Great Food" location.

                                                    Leslie Street's meat and produce departments have improved recently, but VP does have more stuff and does manage things more adroitly. The overall range of merchandise is much wider than at Leslie St. It is, nevertheless, true, as others have mentioned, that Loblaw's has been shedding product SKUs at a rapid rate.

                                                    I know others disagree, but I still maintain that Loblaw's has become cheaper across the board than the other majors. The possibility of scoring really good beef is also much higher AT THE WELL RUN STORES. Fish can be hit-or-miss, but is sometimes quite good, though fish prices are too high overall. The fish quality at Queen's Quay has been consistently higher that at other stores - along with the fish prices.

                                                    1. re: embee

                                                      I don't enjoy shopping at the Leslie Street store. I find the prices are often higher than other Loblaws' locations; not sure why, but that's how it is. Produce has never been as good, either.

                                                      I asked one cashier at VP how she liked her new setup. From her point of view, a mixed bag. They seem to be managing o.k. when I'm there, though. Wouldn't be surprised if they morphed it into a Great Food location, given how the area is changing. Haven't shopped enough in a GF shop to know if this is a good or bad thing, tho...

                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                        The meat and fish at Leslie St were often past their reasonable lifespans, produce was often moldy or rotted, and they coin-locked the shopping carts. These things have changed for the better. I still hate shopping there, though. Unfortunately, it's the closest big store (of any chain) to my home.

                                                        The GF concept is neither good nor bad IMO. I was really disappointed with the Yonge/Yonge GF prototype - not because it was bad, but because I was somehow expecting more.

                                                        What GF does mean, though, is that a GF location won't be declared a "Loblaw's Superstore", which is not a good thing.

                                                        They have been promising major renovations at Leslie St for years, but it never seems to happen. First it was (supposedly) to become a Superstore, but they seem to have changed their minds.

                                                        A couple of years ago, the cashiers were told they would need to start bagging customer orders (this is the only full-price Loblaw's with self bagging), but it never happened.

                                                        Supposedly every store in the mall except Bulk Barn was closing for the Loblaw's expansion, but most remain.

                                                        The Leslie St demographic does keep changing. It was originally a cut rate warehouse store (before the No Frills era). They made it a regular Loblaw's a long time ago, but some of the clientele remained (putting it politely) rather crude. This certainly isn't the case today.

                                          2. I'm so sorry that you had such a bad experience there. I do agree on some counts with you re: the butcher. The experience and selection of meat products is definitely lacking in that category.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Sarah_G

                                              So I am at Loblaws Dupont & Christie the other day, buying those premium packages of washed Romaine, 3 stalks to a package. Of the 10-odd packages on the shelf display, nearly all had significant browning of the outside ribs. I picked the three least affected packages and remarked to the grocery clerk adjacent as to the condition of the item in general. Did he sympathize ? check their condition ? remove the worst offending packages ? offer to call a manager ? None of the above. "Yeah," he said, "they are that way," and continued with his work !!!!!! ?????
                                              "

                                              1. re: Bigtigger

                                                There is brown in all of them, any store. The clerk is correct.

                                                1. re: Bigtigger

                                                  By the way,if you are referring to the Hearts of Romaine, they are not pre-washed. You need to clean them before eating.

                                              2. Loblaws stores in Ottawa stink. Bad (or non-existant) service, empty shelves, long checkout lines... And the crappy produce...most of it looks like it should go straight into the bin. It doesn't help that the produce clerks can regularly be seen chucking the fruits and vegetables onto the display counters, thereby bruising everything before you have a chance to realize it.

                                                In fact, most grocery stores in Ottawa are pretty pathetic. I've done the lot, and nothing comes close to what we enjoyed when we lived on the West Coast. Thrifty Foods, Capers Markets...those were good stores. And please, don't point me in the direction of Farm Boy...most of their produce looks destined for the compost heap as well.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: cyberveg

                                                  I have to disagree vehemently. After moving from Toronto to Ottawa, I feel utterly spoiled by the Loblaws and Your Independent Grocer stores here. They almost always have everything I need, and while the prices are higher than Toronto, I actually get some level of service from the staff and the experience is actually somewhat pleasant instead of loathsome. In Toronto, I could never find even 2/3rds of what I needed (and we're talking basic ingredients here), checkout lines were irritatingly long to the point where on numerous occasions I just dropped my basket and walked out of the store, and the experience was just generally painful from start to finish.

                                                  No, Ottawa stores are paradise compared to Toronto ones, in my opinion. Perhaps I'm just lucky in location: I shop at the Montreal Rd. / St. Laurent Your Independent Grocer, and the Gloucester Centre Loblaws.

                                                  1. re: vorpal

                                                    For us, the closest Loblaws is in the west end, at College Square. Like I said, service is non-existant. One day, I picked up a product in their natural food section, and there seemed to be a price discrepancy with what was indicated on the shelf. I went to "customer service" (and I use that term losely), and the two young clerks actually got into an argument about who was going to go do a price check...it was "too far" to walk!!!

                                                    Actually, when I'm desperate for friendly, helpful service, and a better stocked store, I go to the IGA Extra in Gatineau. Cashiers are nice, produce tends to be fresher, and they seem to focus more on local (or provincial) products. Also, they have a nice little natural food section...

                                                2. I like the hours at Sobeys (lots of 24 hours locations) but I miss the PC products

                                                  Tell me, are there any 24 hour PC supermarkets? I am one of the odd people that does my shopping often at midnight or later

                                                  Thanks

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: duckdown

                                                    I thank Galen for starting the 5 cents a bag 6 months before he had to. I am now a Costco shopper and go to Loblaws about once every 10 days. I believe my Costco bill is about 2/3 rds of what I was spending at Valumart and I'm very happy.

                                                    1. re: duckdown

                                                      The SuperCentre in Whitby is now open 24 hrs. Don't know if this is just for the holidays or not.

                                                      1. re: tuttebene

                                                        I think all the Superstores are open 24 hours just for the holidays.