Curbed visited Kensington Market this week to ask some of the merchants their thoughts on the Loblaw incursion into the market. While no one was dancing a jig about the possibility, not everyone was forecasting gloom and doom either. Some retailers spoke openly about Loblaws while others asked not to be named. Here's what they had to say.
Sugar and Spice, Arja Chopra, longtime co-owner of health food shop Sugar & Spice, rolls her eyes when asked if she's nervous about the possibility of Loblaws muscling in on Kensington: "No, I'm not at all nervous. They sell some of the same things we do, but our prices are much better." Waving at a box of cereal on a nearby shelf, she says, "Here, that cereal is $6.99. There, it's $9.99. People will still come here."
Hooked: Kristin and Dan, owners of the sustainable-seafood shop, say they're not very worried; the customer who comes to them for fish does it because they want what Hooked is selling. According to Dan, "Loblaws does what they do well, and Kensington does what it does well. It'll be fine."
Fruit and vegetable store: The clerk behind the counter smiles sadly and shakes her head: "I think it's not good for us. My manager is not happy at all." But leaning over a little, her voice drops and she says, "I like it, though! I like Loblaws."
Central American grocer: The checkout clerk and the manager are both apprehensive. The manager says, "Loblaws carries more and more of the same things we do now. They're always expanding their ethnic range, and it's going to be harder for us to compete with them."
Cheese shop employee: "I'm not worried. We'll be fine. I'm actually more interested in the condo that's going to be built; those are people who want to live here, so they can shop at Kensington. In fact, I think it'll just mean more business for us."
Bakery employee: "It's going to be devastating. I've seen what happened at Church and Carlton when Loblaws moved into the Gardens. Have you been there? They have a whole huge cake and pastries counter, and that's the kind of thing that will be so hard to compete with."
· Online Chatter, Loblaws Vs. Kensington [Curbed Toronto]
· Loblaws is Moving in (and Pissing Off) Kensington Market [Curbed Toronto]