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May 22, 2013 02:55 PM

Whole Foods (probably) coming to Montreal!

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  1. Sorry to be a negative Nancy, but I'm going to keep holding my breath for Trader Joe's. The WF CEO seems to be a pretty despicable gentleman. I won't support his business.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Fintastic

      I agree completely. Trader Joe's blows Whole Foods out of the water. I used to live in a neighbourhood with both in the States. Their prices are better, their products are great, and they're apolitical, unlike the Ayn Rand fetishist running Whole Foods. Trader Joe's is admittedly weak on produce, but there are so many great produce markets in Montreal, that wouldn't be an issue for me.

    2. I work right next to a Whole Foods market in West Vancouver, and while I was excited when it opened I find it only good for the occasional trip for specialty items since the vast majority of their products are not priced very competitively (even for conventional non organics).

      I too await the arrival of Trader Joe's in Canada. To my mind it is a much more balanced market, both in terms of offerings and pricing.

      3 Replies
      1. re: delys77

        Trader's corresponds much more to our market. Lots of food-curious people, far fewer who can spend Whole Paycheque prices, and those people have options here.

        Unfortunately no prospect of decent cheap wines here!

        1. re: lagatta

          I would prefer to shop locally and not give my money to a fancy US company. There are enough US chains here thank you.

          1. re: lagatta

            Ah, TJ's. How I miss you.

            Right before I moved up here, my husband wrote TJ's, asking them if they were going to open any stores in Canada, especially Quebec.

            I believe you could term the reply as "polite but barely restraining their laughter of disbelief."

            Oh well. There are stores in Nashua, Portsmouth, and Portland, but I am hoping one opens up in Burlington sometime soon. It makes sense after all.

            As for Whole Paycheck, I like them fine. I like them even more when they carry hard-to-find vegan products that I cannot find for love or money in this province; of course, these days, I just pop down into Newport's Natural Foods to look for that stuff (still not the same variety, though).

        2. I've had to subsist on the offerings of Whole Foods over the course of several business trips in the past due to per diems making restaurant dining "challenging". I don't think I need to see them again, though I did like this particular hickory chicken wing they did sell.

          A T&T in Montreal however, would be something.

          8 Replies
          1. re: wattacetti

            Agreed. About the only chain I crave in Mtl is the Canadian Asian (mostly Chinese) chain T&T. The closest one is in Ottawa. Whole Foods doesn't interest me at all. Traders would be somewhat interesting, though I'd be the proverbial bottom-feeder there.

            1. re: lagatta

              T&T were supposed to expand here - then they were purchased by Loblaw's, and that fell through. No idea if they plan on expanding here now, but it would be nice...

              The closest Trader Joe's is in now in Albany, just over 3 hours from Montreal, which isn't a bad drive...

            2. re: wattacetti

              We've got an S & G. How is T & T a step up?

              1. re: Shattered

                I don't know what S&G is. T&T is the big Asian chain linked to Loblaws.

                Now that there is another Marché Hawaï location in Mtl, that means another competitor for that market.

                1. re: lagatta

                  S & G is the supermarket in the basement of the Swatow building in Chinatown.

                    1. re: chilipepper

                      Whoops, it's G & D. I got the S from the name of the building...?

                2. re: Shattered

                  T&T by default of its house brands and its original ownership group has more products from Taiwan. Not having to purchase ingredients originating from the mainland is a big plus for me.

                  S&G was only okay for me the times I've gone though they did have Apple Sidra.

              2. I live approx. 5 blocks away from a Trader Joe's and 3 blocks from a Whole Foods (along with several ethnic markets, asian groceries, etc) - there's no comparison between the quality and selection of products at Whole Foods. The prices are steeper but there's fresher produce, more unique items, excellent prepared foods. I hardly ever shop at Trader Joe's because frankly, their products are not that great. It would be a huge addition to the city (and a great blow to the IGA/Metro chains!) if it were to open up in Montreal. I hope it happens!

                15 Replies
                1. re: OliverB

                  \We have great fresh produce at our markets. We need to keep supporting unique local businesses, not chains.

                  1. re: williej

                    There are not many one-stop fresh local markets in Montreal to begin with, and it stands to reason that they are seasonal and much produce is not available year-round. The big two (JTM and AM) have pretty high mark-ups at the stalls and are not necessarily the most convenient for a lot of people. The only other current options are the big grocery chains like IGA and Metro, which I'd like to see bite the dust for good, in favor of more sustainable and ethical chains like Whole Foods, who support local, eco-friendly and organic farms and suppliers and stock higher quality food items. I'm not saying they're a needed replacement to the local markets, which I still prefer to shop at. I'd rather see them as a replacement to the current grocery chains, which should be snuffed out of the province altogether!

                    1. re: OliverB

                      There are many words we can use to describe Whole Foods, but "ethical" should not be one of them (look the CEO of WF up if interested). I am US born and bred and have been to many a Whole Foods as well as Trader Joe's and can honestly say that the overwhelming majority of people I know prefer it to Whole Foods. WF is a place, just like Lululemon for yoga, to be "seen" so you can be considered "health conscious" and hip and where people can say "look, I have extra money to burn" (or die trying lol). Most of their products can be found elsewhere for MUCH, much cheaper, so I see no reason to give them my business. My family lives in Fairfield County, one of the richest counties in the US (I say this since you seem to give money a lot of value in all your posts) and all the Trader Joe's are constantly packed (not so for WF).

                      You know why? Because they DO have good produce, a large variety of unique items-many of them imported from France (a lot of their desserts), Germany, etc, products that are consistently ranked "the best" by various reports (such as their home brand turkey bacon and brownie mix), they do not have any single-ingredient products (such as veggies) from China due to safety concerns, all their home brand eggs are cage-free and their home brand foods also contain NO GMOs. All this for great prices!

                      Did you know that Whole Foods sells GMO tainted food? Doesn't that concern you if your main worry is about quality? Not to mention that Trader Joe's is consistently ranked in the top 25 and top 50 places to work due to something that is rarely offered in the US-a living wage. In fact, cashiers in our area were getting starting salaries of $13-$14/hour (a rarity). And if you are a manager, you take home 100K (vs 55-60K for WF). Yep, TJ checks pretty much all the boxes for me.

                      1. re: Miaow323

                        That's really interesting and informative as I wasn't aware of all of that and I do appreciate your perspective however that really isn't true of the TJ's near my apartment on California and Pine. Their selection is pretty poor compared to the Whole Foods located just blocks away, who has a better butcher, fish market, etc. I used to do all of my shopping at Bi-Rite, which was exorbitantly more expensive, but so blatantly superior in all respects. I shouldn't speak for the Whole Foods brand in general, but I genuinely appreciate the one near my apartment and enjoy shopping there. I'll still visit the markets in Chinatown from time to time, but for one-stop shopping, my local WF is great. That said, I think any Whole Foods is exponentially better to the commerical IGA/Metro chains in the pockets of the big corporate trademarked brands.

                        1. re: OliverB

                          why would we want a trader joe's if they wouldn't be allowed to sell dollar wine.

                          1. re: catroast

                            Man, not even Two-Buck Chuck is two bucks anymore. It's more like Three-Dollars-and-Some-Change Chuck these days.

                            That said, I do delight in the esoteric selection of their wines and beers. Their house brands tend to be drinkable plonk--nothing I'd serve at a dinner party, but completely acceptable for a girls' night in or an intimate gathering with friends--and the non-house are always interesting.

                            Oh, and that wasabi trail mix. Man, I smuggled four bags of that stuff back in my luggage a few weeks ago.

                            1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                              $3 is still good, unfortunately they'd have to purchase the blended crap from the quebec cartel.

                          2. re: OliverB

                            Whole Foods will only go to places where big box stores will go. So it will require going a distance. There aren't going to be any neighbourhood Whole Foods while there are neighbourhood Canadian owned chains. I would much prefer Canadian owned chains in my neighbourhood that I can walk or bike to to an American chain that is out in the burbs that will be a long bus or car ride.

                            1. re: williej

                              Maybe in Canada, but in my hometown of Atlanta, Whole Foods opened up on Ponce--a thickly populated grab bag of an avenue--and about a block up was a Kroger's, which are as ubiquitous as, say, a Provigo or IGA. So at least where I'm from, that doesn't hold true. A Whole Foods will open up wherever there's a large enough space for them to. (But you are right that they are usually linked to other chain stores.)

                              1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                                Thanks. I just prefer Montreal to be attractive for its eclectic range of small stores...bakeries, patisseries, fruit and vegie shops, butchers etc. I really don't like the supermarket chains, but we definitely don;'t need another chain with a pseudo-market atmosphere here that closes down the small eclectic grocery stores.

                                If we wanted Montreal to be like San Francisco we would live in San Francisco (reminds me of a N. American tourist in Paris who wanted to go to MacDonalds for a meal; now why would you go to Paris if that is where you want to eat?).

                                1. re: williej

                                  While this is wildly dependent on where they open up should they choose to open a store here--WF is very anti-union so that may just kill the possibility before it starts--I honestly believe that small stores will be in no danger of closing down. Loyal clientele is its own rewards sometimes, and food market icons like Atwater/Jean-Talon will remain because that is more in the spirit of Montreal and what visitors like to see as well.

                                  Again, this would really depend on where they would open. I can't think of any large areas on the Island offhand that would lend themselves to the space a WF wants/needs.

                        2. re: OliverB

                          Mark-ups or not, I usually find vegetables cheaper at JTM than at chain supermarkets. Where they can be cheaper is independent greengrocers, and independent or small-chain "ethnic" places, including PA and (sometimes) Adonis. PA does much better than Adonis about promoting local produce.

                          1. re: OliverB

                            produce at JTM is much less expensive than at the grocery store.

                            the produce at PA is usually pretty bad.

                            1. re: catroast

                              In my experience at the PA on Fort, I've always found the quality of the produce very good! The only things I buy at the Provigo around the corner are bacon, cheese and club soda, everything else I buy at PA. Personally I love the place, they have good specials compared to Provigo and I find the quality of the fresh meats good overall too :)

                              1. re: catroast

                                PA (parc) have good/great vegetables and fruits in winter time; the rest of the year, not so much.

                        3. Is there any space at Dix/30?
                          Near Carrefour Laval?
                          I can't think of any space on the island ...old Blue Bonnets?

                          36 Replies
                          1. re: chilipepper

                            Dix30 already has Avril, Adonis and specialty shops. I wonder how Whole Foods would fit in there. It seems that in a city with not that many organic or upscale supermarkets Whole Foods would be a hard sell. The only real advantage I can see coming from Whole Foods is that it's one-stop shopping. That would appeal to people in affluent suburbs where their type of offer might be lacking. I don't think they would do so great in central neighbourhoods except perhaps right downtown.

                            1. re: chilipepper

                              You'd have to take a look at the demographic that might shop at Whole Foods.

                              Might work in Laval as there are plenty of strip mall areas along the 13 and 15 which could support a new building. The Lavalois are climbing upscale (or trying).

                              Not sure about Dix30 because I can't see the immediate Brossard population as a client base in addition to all the points SnackHappy has already brought up. St-Lambert maybe but it could wind up being a drive as outside of Dix30, we're talking what, the developments along Taschereau?

                              On island, West Island/Fairview is the only possibility in terms of size and potential client base though there are a lot of families that do the bulk/frozen thing at Loblaw and Wal-Mart from what I remember. Blue Bonnets is in an area which doesn't hold a Whole Foods demographic. No space in Westmount (can't see Peter Trent allowing a rezoning), Outremont or TMR, Montreal West is too isolated traffic-wise. Can't see it going east.

                              1. re: wattacetti

                                If Williams-Sonoma can make a go of it in Laval, it would certainly bode well for Whole Foods. They pretty much have the same demographic.

                                1. re: SnackHappy

                                  They can make a go, but i doubt they will be very profitable.

                                  I see very few curious people browsing that shop considering the foot traffic, but very little actually buying. Way too expensive.

                                  1. re: SourberryLily

                                    I know, right? I love going into a Williams-Sonoma, but I rarely leave with anything. Much too pricey.

                                2. re: wattacetti

                                  The Blue Bonnets development will be a whole new neighbourhood, so all of this remains to be seen.

                                  1. re: lagatta

                                    Yes, I understand it's supposed to be along the lines of Bois-Franc in St-Laurent. However, the competition plans for 20K people in the development, which wouldn't be enough to sustain a WF even if they assumed every single one purchased at WF exclusively (which they won't). The encircling donut is the wrong demographic.

                                    1. re: wattacetti

                                      i'm pretty certain that the decarie walmart is not exclusively supported by residents on mountainsights

                                      hampstead, csl, tmr, vsl - all a skip away.

                                      1. re: catroast

                                        Anyone know what's being built next to the WalMart on Decarie?

                                        There is no sign stating what it will be, the structure is way too big for a restaurant so I'm thinking a supermarket. With all those new condos up along Jean Talon/Decarie that are definitely needs a grocery store. Might this be the Whole Foods?

                                        I'm open to Whole Foods if they can diversify the availability of non Cargill/XL meats. We are still limited in this city when it comes to access to properly raised Quebec/Ontario meats.

                                        1. re: JerkPork

                                          i seem to recall reading that they were expanding the decarie walmart. i'm not so sure now since they are building a freestanding structure.

                                          i doubt that walmart would permit a competing grocery store to build in its parking lot.

                                          1. re: JerkPork

                                            We aren't limited at all for access to properly raised Quebec meats, if you shop at the markets, but are if you stick to grocery stores.

                                            1. re: cherylmtl

                                              I do shop at the appropriate places and avoid supermarket meat, i.e St Vincent, Porc Meilleur, farmer's markets, etc..

                                              But that's my point, we can only really go to these places and it's not always convenient. If I want St Canut pork I have to reserve it in advance at Latina, Berkshire Pork is almost non existent. Marche Tau, Rachelle Bery are close to doing it right but they don't have in house butchers and their supply is inconsistent.

                                          2. re: catroast

                                            Actually, I'm sure that the residents of the more affluent nearby neighbourhoods also shop at the Walmart. And VSL has quite a choice of "ethnic" groceries.

                                      2. re: wattacetti

                                        What about the spot on the northen side of the Metropolitaine, west of Ste-Croix and just east of the Decarie Circle?

                                        Near TMR, quick access to the highways to serve NDG, West Island and even Laval.

                                        1. re: sir_jiffy

                                          You couldn't pay me to go for groceries by driving the Met or Decarie from NDG. Even if I loved WF.

                                          1. re: sir_jiffy

                                            That's a SmartCentres development and I'm not sure if WF would be that good an anchor tenant given the lack of pretty much everything else and the proximity of Loblaws on Dion.

                                            Near TMR yes, but highway access with the way the interchange is being reconfigured is going to be torturous.

                                            1. re: wattacetti

                                              Isn't SmartCentres the real estate arm of Walmart, so another Walmart to be built there? Seems close to the one on Decarie.

                                              1. re: sir_jiffy

                                                AFAIK, SmartCentres is a property developer that makes really ugly malls similar to what's found in US suburbia; Wal-Mart just happens to be one of their location tenants.

                                          2. re: wattacetti

                                            I think it could work pretty well in Laval. They could take over the closing Target if they didn't want to build a new space.

                                            1. re: pkzilla

                                              Whole Foods is not a Laval kind of place, though.

                                              1. re: williej

                                                There is no Rachelle-Béry in Laval; there is one north of Laval, in Blainville.

                                                Parts of Laval have already started to change a bit, since the métro arrived.

                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                  Good news for now! They are only planning to expand in Western Canada:


                                                  1. re: williej

                                                    I don't see anywhere in that article where it states that they don't have plans outside Western Canada. In fact, it says they are opening another Ontario store.

                                                    1. re: SnackHappy

                                                      So sorry. I did see another article that said that too. But no mention of Quebec.

                                                      One can only hope they think Quebec is not a good market for them.

                                                      I did see a Forbes article where they acknowledged that their reputation of being over priced was not a good thing, so they are trying to follow Wal-Mart in discounting food.

                                                      1. re: williej

                                                        " The chain opened its first Canadian location in Toronto in 2002, and is currently expanding throughout Canada with between 35-40 stores planned. The Lansdowne store is the 10th store to open in Canada, and the first for the capital region."

                                                        Chances are at least one of those 40 stores will be in the Montreal area.

                                                        I say bring it, nothing wrong with competition, variety and more of these types of stores. So far it looks like we as a city are able to support all of them that are sprouting up; Rachelle-Bery, Tau, PA Organics, C'est la Vie, Fous D'Ici, etc, etc...

                                                        It's a message to the food industry even though I'm sure most of the stuff sold at places like Whole Foods are still part of "big food" but can't be as bad as the regular supermarkets.

                                                        1. re: JerkPork

                                                          Hi JerkPork, by the way it is "PA Nature", not "PA Organics", because they don't claim that everything they carry is organic.

                                                          1. re: JerkPork

                                                            Unless it is located in a neighbourhood with a streetscape, Whole Foods will be car friendly rather than bike or walk friendly or rapid transit friendly. I don't understand how you can claim to be organic and then encourage a car culture. (WF is not the only one to do this; I was just in a cafe downtown that claimed to be vegan yet all their utensils and dishes were disposable).

                                                            *I have been to the WF in Austin, Texas though where they are part of a neighbourhood. So it can be done.

                                                            1. re: williej

                                                              Well, I can always walk to the new Rachelle-Béry a few minutes from chez moi, and when I have time, I walked to the R-Bs on Beaubien est and Villeneuve-St-Laurent, and have been walking to PA nature on Parc. And of course can cycle there when there isn't so much snow!

                                                              That is mostly a matter of poor urbanism, as Marché central is easily accessible from many Montréal neighbourhoods, including mine, but once there it is very unfriendly for pedestrians and cyclists.

                                                              Indeed, better planning can be done.

                                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                                Agreed. In the past we have had city planning and tax policies that favour big parking lots and big box stores rather than encouraging neighbourhood infrastructure. Montreal is getting better at it, but still a ways to go.

                                                                I am not averse to driving to shop. The problem is in urban design that discourages walking. Have you ever been to the 10-30? It is the opposite of a community streetscape.

                                                              2. re: williej

                                                                Why should any business limit itself to clients within only their respective neighbourhood? I'd be doomed if that was the case, I need to drive to get to all my favourite food shopping places every weekend. We're getting off-topic and this is heading to a pro car vs anti car debate, sure it'd be nice if we could all live next to JTM and all these other great stores but the reality is most of the population live in boroughs other than the Plateau and neigbourbing areas.

                                                                1. re: JerkPork

                                                                  The idea wasn't being anti-car, but creating neighbourhoods and business centres that are safe and pleasant for pedestrians (including mobility-device users) and cyclists. Ideally, that would involve underground parking for motorists.

                                                                  As for Whole Foods in Ottawa, I wrote to the Ontario board about the Landsdowne Park development (which I believe will be a good example of pedestrian-friendly planning with good parking) but no answers so far. I find it odd that there is so little about Eastern Ontario. Of course we have the same problem, but there are far fewer hounds in Québec City simply because most people are not as conversant in English as Montrealers of whatever origin. Ottawa is a fairly large city now.

                                                                  1. re: JerkPork

                                                                    It's not about being anti-car. Williej is saying that our cities are anti-walking and anti-cycling. If you want to take your car, you can take your car and you are welcome almost everywhere. If I decide to take a bike there are many places where I cannot go without risking my life. We are not trying to take away your cars, all we are asking for is a little space for those of us who prefer active transportation so we all have choice.

                                                  2. re: chilipepper

                                                    Maybe someplace in Griffintown? lots of people (yuppie-hipsters) moving in with not that many grocery stores unless you drive west to Atwater or north-west to PA/Mourelatos/ Adonis

                                                    1. re: Arktik

                                                      You forgot the Metro at Montagne andNotre Dame.

                                                      1. re: williej

                                                        Yes, I happened on that by chance, meeting a client in a condo there. Do remember that a lot of hipster-yuppies don't want to drive...