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No Frills fosters "frugal chic" image with help from Parkdale residents

Trademark violation is not a concern for the chain trying to prove "cheap is the new sexy."

Model Chantelle Rose poses with grocery carts at a No Frills in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. The anonymous Instagram account Parkdale Life is showing its love for Vi's No Frills, which recently reopened, by selling No-Frills-themed T-shirts with proceeds going to the Parkdale Food Bank.

@tequilabookworm on Instagram

Model Chantelle Rose poses with grocery carts at a No Frills in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. The anonymous Instagram account Parkdale Life is showing its love for Vi's No Frills, which recently reopened, by selling No-Frills-themed T-shirts with proceeds going to the Parkdale Food Bank.

What’s hip with the Parkdale in-crowd?

Artisanal coffee, sleeve tats and … No Frills?

Yes, despite long lines and squabbles for the last carton of on-sale juice, the highlighter-yellow discount grocery chain has become iconic in the west-end mixed-income neighbourhood.

The people behind Parkdale Life (@parkdalelife), a popular Instagram account that documents day-to-day life in the ‘hood were really excited when Vi’s No Frills at King St. W and Jameson Ave. re-opened. So to celebrate the neighbourhood’s non-food desert status, they had T-shirts made, featuring their page name and No Frills’ distinctive banana logo.

They’ll be sold at a one-time event with proceeds going to the Parkdale Community Food Bank.

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The promotional photos wouldn’t be out of place in an urban outfitters ad – except one T-shirt-clad model leans on a row of grocery carts, and two others, in full tattooed hipster glory, ham it up with an actual ham.

“There is so much to say about this No Frills,” one of Parkdale Life’s administrators said in an email to Metro. The group prefers anonymity to “keep it about the neighbourhood, not about personalities.”

“There are so many people in the neighbourhood that need accessible and affordable groceries: people without cars, low-income folk, the elderly, and just everyone. It also feels like an unofficial community hub.”

No Frills is surprisingly low-key about Parkdale Life’s blatant appropriation of their brand.     

It fits right in with their new marketing campaign, which focuses on the message “cheap is the new sexy,” said Mary MacIsaac, Vice President, marketing of Loblaws’ discount division.

“Being frugal is a badge of honour now,” MacIsaac said. “It’s a pounding-your-chest No Frills pride. We’re trying to put some fire on that.”  

BY THE NUMBERS  

32% - The proportion of Parkdale residents who are low-income, according to the 2011 census.

EVENT

On May 10, Parkdale Life’s No-Frills themed T-shirts ($25) and hats ($20) will be on sale while supplies last from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m at the corner of Thorburn Ave and Tyndall Ave.

A post shared by Parkdale Life (@parkdalelife) on

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