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st. lawrence market price fixing

has any one noticed how the prices of some items are consistently outrageous for all the vendors at the market. for instance, 1 yr old piave cheese, at $58/kg for all the cheese mongers at the market, while only $38/kg at grande cheese. and 3 osso bucco steaks for $35, far more than at butchers outside the city centre. not competitve pricing at all, just convenient variety for urbanites . . .

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  1. So don't go to SLM. It's always been pricey. Some people are willing to pay for the "destination" experience and questionable vibe. Everything there is generally available elsewhere around the GTA, usually for less and often better quality.

    1. Prices at the SLM market vary widely depending on what you are buying. Some things are outrageously priced, some are normal, and some are cheap. You can't go there assuming everything is expensive or everything is cheap: like anywhere, you need to comparison shop on each item. For example, you can buy Mirin rice wine at 3 or 4 locations in the market, and pay anywhere from $5 to $10 for the same sized bottle of the same brand. So not everything is price fixed by any stretch.

      Kagemusha is right, there's definitely a convenience fee, and I imagine it's much more expensive to rent retail space in the SLM compared to, say, a strip mall. Even big chain grocery store prices are higher downtown than in the suburbs due to land values. I shop at the SLM for certain things because it's within walking distance and very convenient, and I can find many things there that are not consistently available at nearby grocery stores. But you do need to shop smartly, and for most regular staples the grocery store is cheaper (the exception being some veggies).

      4 Replies
      1. re: Gary

        Yes? Hi! Also many of them know the 905 tourists and the locals and they give the better prices to the people that they know that does the shopping all the time.

        1. re: Indianguy

          I pick up a excellent piece of prime rib for $5.99/lb this past weekend I don't think you could find that price in any supermarket at this time not on sale. I agree with Gary on prices some are good some are not so good.

          1. re: Indianguy

            Absolutely, Indianguy, I'm usually there during the week when it's quiet, and the vendors have gotten to know my face and sometimes round down, give me little freebies, etc. It's not a guarantee, obviously, but it's definitely a refreshing change from the impartial grocery store scanners. The day most people go to the SLM -- Saturdays -- is actually the least pleasant and most expensive and my wife and I avoid it whenever possible.

            1. re: Gary

              I shop there on the Saturday around 4 pm, this is when they bring the prices down.

        2. I just bought a gorgeous beef tenderloin for $12/kg. Maybe try shopping around a bit more? It's a big place.
          Admittedly I never buy cheese there.

          2 Replies
          1. re: graydyn

            I've noticed the prices vary wildly on some items, most recently short ribs I purchased. I'm not sure much price fixing is going on, if any. There are some values to be had and there are some items that are overpriced. Pound for pound though it's still an amazing food shopping destination.

            1. re: graydyn

              I always buy cheeses at Scheffler's. I find their prices the best compared to other cheese shops on the market or elsewhere.

            2. Hence why I prefer Kensington Market/Chinatown to shop at over St. Lawrence Market.

              It's a nice market to bring out-of-towner's to, but not one I would visit for personal needs.

              St. Lawrence Market
              92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sadistick

                Quality of cheese in Kensington does not compare. It's cheaper for sure.
                For your non-dairy needs, Korea Town/China Town is cheaper than Kensington.
                All spring, tulips have been 20/$5 at my Korea Town fruit & veg.

              2. "Price fixing" has an actual meaning, and I'm hoping you aren't accussing them of this without any proof, since it is illegal in Canada. I think you are just saying the prices are too high for you.

                As other said, some prices at SLM are high, some aren't. I live and work near by and I go multiple times a week typically. If I have to add on $5 of subway tokens plus my time just to go shopping, I'm sure I could get better deals, but I don't really want to.

                1. There are no mad buys at the south St. Lawrence Market, nor have there been any in years. I'm sure the vendors, all within arm's length of each other in the same facility, long ago realized that it'd be foolish to engage in price wars that would solve nothing while decimating their profits. The three fishmongers, for example, offer pretty much the same product at pretty much the same prices. You could do better on fish price at Diana's or most any other fishmonger in town, but most don't carry the wide range you'll find at the St. Lawrence. Oh, you'll find the odd item at the market a buck cheaper here and there - and, as I've discovered, some items wildly overpriced (for example. 230-gram jars of Zarotti anchovy filets that go for $5.69 at Costco but up to $14 at various stalls around the south Market). But chasing around town or going to a supermarket isn't as much fun as the more manageable St. Lawrence, especially on a Saturday (get there before 7 a.m. to avoid the crowds), when the north farmer's market is in action, with its many distinctive foodstuffs.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: juno

                    you're paying for the convenience of the selection and the bustling quaint market atmosphere... i don't see the point in complaining about the pricing either because this isn't some down market location of shanty stalls congregating on some road side. juno is definitely right, why compete when you have enough customers happy to pay the prices and have the variety?

                    i don't get why people balk at paying for something when it's not minimalist and shiny brand new. you don't like it, no one is forcing you to go. there's a reason why i keep my shopping at SLM to a minimum.

                  2. Agree with most of the comments here. Spent two hours there yesterday shopping for a dinner party as I wanted to just go to one location and get everything (i.e. heirloom vegetables, paella rice, pork bellies, etc.). Only price variances I saw were for the antipasti and cheeses - but then still very expensive.

                    I wouldn't mind paying a little more if it translated to the knowledge and customer service one would expect from specialty vendors, but for the most part people couldn't or weren't interested in answering questions.

                    One example was the vendor who specializes in game. We're a hunting household, so the freezer is full of game - so, I tried to engage the woman who was serving me. She just shut down and ultimately just stopped talking. Took my money and walked away while I was still talking. And I wasn't being offensive, just asking friendly questions about their products. The seafood vendors I dealt with there were the same - just shrugged or gave vague answers. And I was there at 10:30 AM, so it's not like they were running off their feet to serve others. Only people there were photographers and class trips...

                    That's why I continue to see the Diana's experience as a such a cherished rarity these days. Everyone on the floor can answer your questions - from where the fish came from and what time/day it came in, to care and preparation, etc. etc. Every time I go I learn something...

                    1. I go down to the market about 8 - 15 times a year and enjoy a lot of the product. The only place I have yet to figure out is La Boucherie Fine Meats. I have ordered lamb shanks and a steak from them and the meat was very good. What I had trouble with was their scales. The lamb shanks seemed reasonable from an eyeball view, but the steak seemed pricey. When I got home I weighed them on my two, less than accurate scales, and they both showed a mass that was significantly less than what their scales measured, 1.4 pounds vs. the 1.8 pounds I was charged. A month earlier, I saw a similar measurement with someone ordering lamb shanks and the cost was a lot more than what I figured the price should be based on the price per pound. I've made braised lamb shanks many times and have an idea what four shanks should cost based on experience. I guess I should have taken the package over to another meat shop and had them weigh it. La Boucherie might have been accurate, but my spidey sense and the actual weight didn't seem to add up.

                      Anyone else with a similar problem with this vendor?

                      When I tried to lodge a complaint with the federal government agency in charge of weights and measures my email was not delivered. The person on the website was no longer at the department. It seems that consumers aren't all that important. All I suggested was that they might want to check the scales to insure that they are in fact accurate. Later in the day the price at this vendor on a per pound basis seems very good, but only if the scales are accurate?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Dflip

                        A long time ago I bought sole fillets at Nortown on Eglinton, and I thought I was short weighted.
                        I checked the weight at home, and, since it was off 12.5 %, I called the city and gave a verbal complaint.
                        The Toronto health inspector called back a week later and said the problem was a bad scale, and it was now out of operation.
                        There was a price adjustment from Nortown, but they basically lost my business for many years.

                      2. where can I but mirin & red pickled ginger in Durham Region?
                        Found a great Asian supermarket in London - 'United' on Adelaide St

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: langkey

                          Try T.Phat Supermarket on Kingston Rd. in Pickering.

                        2. A lot of St. Lawrence is about timing and loyalty. Saturday afternoon is when the prices start to drop, mostly with the fishmongers. A few weeks ago, I bought some shrimp at a 30% discount to the earlier price, and the server weighed the bag, then dropped a few more in on the way to the cash. Probably amounted to another 15% off the earlier price.

                          Some of the butchers, if you engage them, will pass around event tickets, or drop product samples (ie new sausage flavours), in an effort to make you want to come back. Haggling even works sometimes, but not when there's a lineup.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Snarf

                            About 3 years ago I shopped at the Farmers market near Burnanthorpe and the 427. Then went direct to the St Lawrence market, The difference in freshness quality and price of vegetables was astounding. I have not bought vegetables at the St Lawrence since.

                            1. re: Herne

                              I can't even begin to imagine making the trek all the way out there for fresh veggies when were are so many farmers' markets in this city selling great stuff at reasonable prices. There are so many downtown options that are not SLM and don't require a trip to the burbs.