Life / Food

Farm Boy growing up so fast as Canada's answer to Trader Joe's expands

Ottawa-based fresh food grocery store is bringing its cult appeal to Toronto with first location ready to open this fall, many more in works

Torstar News Service

"Within two to three years we want Farm boy to be a household name in Toronto,” the company said.

The grocery game heats up as Ottawa-based chain Farm Boy is opening its first Etobicoke location this fall.

The 20,000-square-foot Etobicoke location is slated to open this fall at the Shoppes of Alderwood plaza at 841 Brown’s Line. While the store has a wide selection of produce, sustainable seafood, meat, snacks, bulk food and prepared-meals, Farm Boy CEO Jeff York is quick to point out this is not the place to stock up on household items.

“We’re not a supermarket, we’re a fresh food experience,” he says. “It says on our sign that it’s all about the food. You can order toilet paper and toothpaste online on Amazon. We want people to come here and discover new foods and learn how to cook and eat healthy. We have an executive chef that used to cook for the prime minister and we have affordable meals that are of restaurant quality.”

For those who aren’t familiar with Farm Boy, York describes it as a mix between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s focusing on healthy eating, local and organic produce options, and a big push of prepared meals that are made in-house. The store also has a cult following of its private line of foods (about 500 items and counting) that include condiments, frozen pizza, soups, cookies and fair-trade coffee.

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The company started as a small produce store in Cornwall in 1981 and now has 24 locations in Ontario. As of now, the closest Farm Boy locations to Toronto are in Pickering Town Centre and Taunton Gardens in Whitby.

The plan, says York, is to eventually hit downtown Toronto with stores that cater more to condo residents and young professionals, meaning more prepared meals and perhaps the integration of pickup and delivery options. He adds there are 10 to 15 locations already in the works surrounding the GTA that will hopefully open in the next two to three years.

“We want to surround the core, and then penetrate the core,” York says. “Within two to three years we want Farm boy to be a household name in Toronto.”

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