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Sep 20, 2011 10:26 PM

Grocery Chains - Favourites?

After reading (but not participating in) the discussion on PC's Black Label products, and searching for best grocery store (I found a thread from '06), I am opening the jar of worms....

Because I am cheap (um, frugal) I find the best price tends to be NoFrills, but I find there's a big difference in selection between stores. I am in the west end near the Pacific location. but prefer Lansdowne. For "smaller" chains I like Highland Farms. FreshCo is a cleanup of PriceChopper (and not really inexpensive). I only shop at Loblaws, Metro, or Sobeys when they have a competitive sale. For other needs I'll go to PAT, Fiesta Farms or T&T. Thoughts?

Fiesta Farms
200 Christie St, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

Highland Farms
850 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P, CA

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  1. We carefully go through all the weekly flyers when they arrive, and plan accordingly. I agree with you on FreshCo, it just seemed to give Sobey's an excuse to raise prices on their "low cost" chain. I'm also not convinced that No Frills is consistently cheaper than the others.

    One store you should not count out is Shopper's Drug Mart. Sure, most of the crap they sell is high markup, but they often have good sales on cartel-controlled food items like milk, butter, and eggs. Sometimes SDM's sale prices beat Costco. The only business we do with SDM is the post office, and those loss leader grocery items. Everything else they sell you can get cheaper at Walmart.

    Asian supermarkets have ridiculously low prices on some things (especially produce) but beware of the meats, they're cheap for a reason. T&T is the exception in this.

    If you want the ultimate in cheap/frugal grocery shopping, cross the border and visit Aldi.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TexSquared

      You're right about flyers and Shoppers butter or milk anyone?

      1. re: TexSquared

        I agree about Shoppers Drug Mart. Over the years their sales have gotten super-competitive. I do probably 40% of my shopping on any given week at my local SDM, which I love love love. Throw in Optimum points and the deals are even better. My home base location in particular is fantastic in terms of their sales and the great and interesting local products they carry (Raani Foods, So Delicious, Bagel World, etc).

        I also love The Kitchen Table chain, although they are small and local, not national. Sure quite a bit of their stock is expensive. But they also have outrageously good deals every single day and you can walk away with some great product at crazy-good prices. I also like they carry baked and prepared goods from some good places around Toronto, like Gryfe’s and Haymishe Bakery. And any place that carries Buster Rhino BBQ sauce is ok by me….

      2. I will reply to my own topic to say I loved (and miss) the Valuemart on Underhill (former neighbourhood) - they were more expensive in many ways, but their butcher packaged stuff for single/senior population (and priced accordingly) for which I was grateful. When reading the PC Black label stuff I was interested to hear that some of the PC stores (like ValueMart etc) were franchises,

        1 Reply
        1. re: kbdid

          Oooooh, good to know, kbdid and what a great coincidence. I'm going to give High Street Fish & Chips a whirl this week. I'll check out the ValuMart while there. Thanks!

          High Street
          55 Underhill Dr, Toronto, ON M3A2J8, CA

        2. my favourite chain is longos...hands down. unfortunately, they're not the most conveniently located. but i will drive past loblaw, metro, galati, SDM on my way to longos in mississauga.

          1. I do most shopping at asian supermarkets. Not T&T...I find it overpriced. However for "western" staples asian stores are expensive, and I have loyalty to loblaws group so usually loblaws or no frills. I don't really get why people complain about them so much...I've tried IGA, Sobeys, Metro...all of them are much too expensive and I don't see the appeal.

            I also buy a lot of stuff from costco.

            Buying veggies/fruit from asian supermarkets (foodymart in particular) has saved me a lot of money.

            1 Reply
            1. re: szw

              I believe T & T is now owned by Loblaws (?)

            2. We love our Fortino's in Hamilton. It has an outstanding deli, meat counter and produce department. In addition they offer all of the best PC products, which is very convenient.

              They even have a pizza oven and make a decent pie to go.

              5 Replies
              1. re: bogie

                I'll second the motion for Fortino's. The three in Burlington are the stores of choice for my regular grocery shopping. They have a great selection of produce, meat, dairy as you've described. I also like the extended list of specialty items they stock, e.g. chinese, thai, mexican. I've found just about everything I need there. My fallback is Longo's should Fortino's not have a specialty product I'm looking for.

                1. re: cynalan

                  What's always puzzled me are the huge disparities among the NG stores, whether Loblaws, Superstore, Zehrs, Fortino's. Some rock, others suck, often in the same area.

                  1. re: Kagemusha

                    As much as I like to rip Loblaws, to be fair I don't think this problem is unique to them. We see a lot of posts here with people complaining about one Metro vs another, or more recently, one Highland Farms vs another. Inconsistency shows worse in retail chains than in other businesses (like restaurants).

                    Not even everybody's darling Costco is immune: the Scarborough Costco is the worst I've seen anywhere in North America. If you're a member, it's worth the drive to Yorkdale or Ajax to avoid that mess at Warden/Ellesmere. By comparison I find Sam's Club to be very consistent no matter where you are (when they were open, their 6 Canadian stores were very well run and enjoyable to shop at, unlike Costco -- and that consistency continues in the U.S.).

                    1. re: TexSquared

                      I have no beefs with Costco.They're huge stores and handle customers more intelligently than any grocery chain or other big box retailer I've shopped around the GTA. Sam's just didn't hunt here. The Sam's fiasco on the Queensway is best forgotten. Walmart obviously thought they were setting up in a totally underdeveloped market when they showed up here.