I only visit my neighbourhood supermarket for those basics that cost an arm and a leg in specialty stores, such as legumes, milk, drinkable yoghurt and family-size packaged meat. Otherwise, I have my cheesemonger (Octofruit in Sainte-Thérèse), my fishmonger (Gidneys in Marché 440) and my upscale butcher (Boucherie Lorrain in Rosemère). Every week, I travel down the road to Adonis for those fruit and vegetables not available in my CSA-style Lufa Basket. And I’ll detour by Ville Saint-Laurent to visit Marché Hawai whenever I’m dying for authentic Chinese or Indian foods and ingredients.
In marketing, there’s a name for people like me who shop left and right instead of under one roof: we’re called “cherry pickers.” Despite the unholy budget we devote to food, we’re not that popular a target because of, you know, our pickiness. However, there’s a wind of change transforming traditional supermarkets these days, with space increasingly allocated to specialized ready-to-eat counters and house brands, all aimed at consumers on-the-run and/or in-the-know.
Last year, I wrote here about IGA’s new Joy of Eating Better programme with its focus on local, healthy foods. In the past year, another banner has made a strong move in the right direction. Every few weeks, here and there, Provigo has been launching its new Provigo Le Marché outlets modeled on the popular Loblaws stores winning over Toronto foodies.
The design is modern and streamlined, the ready-to-eat selection presented in stations. Giant refrigerators reach out to the ceiling while multiple tasting counters invite the hungry. No doubt, these new markets offer the kind of fun, sophisticated grocery shopping that will enchant foodies. In the days following the Blainville opening, kiddo and I ventured on our first visit. He basically hopped from station to station, slurping Laura Secord hot chocolate with marshmallow and whipped cream, pulled beef O’Sole Mio pasta, fresh spinach and pineapple juice, homemade parmesan sole fish, pesto bruschetta and tomato pizza (a huge hit). Watching him nibble away reminded of my years working in a downtown ad agency, when my colleagues would “lunch-and-shop” at the then-new Costco on Bridge street in Verdun…
A sign of the times, cashiers and bag handlers all wore t-shirts adorned with green taglines, an environmental sensibility that has also led Provigo to package meat and fish in recyclable/reusable bags. To the smiling fishmonger with a knack for chatting up clients, I remarked that everyone seemed very happy. “Of course we are, he confided, the store is beautiful, the produce is beautiful and the clients are beautiful. Working here makes you want to smile…” Shopping there too, I might add.
While I suspect that the arrival of a Provigo Le Marché, with its European sensibilities and its American breadth, might spell bad news for neighbourhoods with multiple specialty stores, in burgeoning Blainville where construction cranes spike the skyline, it’s a welcome sight. And a dangerously tempting one.
P.S. Thank you Provigo Le Marché for some of the photographs above kindly provided at my request. The bad ones are mine… This post was not sponsored, Provigo is not a client and opinions expressed are my own.
Info Provigo Le Marché
820 Boulevard Curé-Labelle, Blainville, J7C 2K6