One of the strangest arguments I hear from people on the topic of “why they would never live downtown” is that there is no where to buy groceries. It seems like such a pointless thing to argue. People who live downtown get in their cars, drive to St. James and pick up their groceries just like everyone else does.

When was the last time you walked to get groceries anyways?

Besides the fact that people in downtown get their food just like people in the suburbs do, the argument that there are no grocery stores downtown simply isn’t true. There are at least three larger places you can get pretty much everything you need and dozens of smaller places for quick trips and last-minute needs.

The Bay of course offers a large selection of fresh produce, bread, frozen items, canned items etc. They even sell Bothwell Cheese–made in Manitoba–it’s some of the best cheese you’ll ever eat. They’ve got packaged foods, chips and an amazing selection of chocolate. After the recent announcement that Zellers is taking over the grocery store, we’ve been assured it’s only going to get better down there. Definitely welcome news.

There is also the IGA located on Donald near the corner of Broadway. If this isn’t a grocery store, then I don’t know what is. (Is there a universal law that says unless you can also buy a patio set, barbecue or sweatsuit with your tomatoes,  it isn’t really a grocery store?) IGA also offers plenty of fresh produce, dairy, spices, baking supplies etc. They even have a fresh deli with prepared foods. Sure it’s smaller than your average big box behemoth, but it’s cozy and comfortable and it’s got almost everything you’d need.

And finally, there’s The Forks market. I liken shopping here to being in a market in Paris or New York where you visit a special vendor for each ingredient. Everything is lovingly procured and created by experts. They’ve got lovely locally-raised meats, gourmet cheese, fresh-baked bread, wine, tea, coffee, chocolate, dessert. You name it.

And while I’m here, I might as well bring up Sun Wah and Young’s. These huge Asian markets are foodie heaven for any adventurous chef as they offer all kinds of strange, exotic and flavourful things to whip a meal. Peking duck on a Wednesday night is just a shop away.

So there you go. We do have groceries downtown. Now go and eat. I know I’m hungry already.

16 thoughts on “Groceries

  1. There’s also Mondragon which has organic fresh fruits, vegetables, and lots of neat products and I think Giant Tiger has some canned goods too.

  2. No one walks to buy groceries! I love living downtown and I just pop across to River Ave Safeway to get my grub, definitely closer than any suburbanite is to their’s.

  3. downtown grocery shopping is disappointing – i routinely cannot find the products i want/need; fredette’s, now “IGA” i ridiculously overpriced and has limited selection (and a lot of their produced is packaged and previously chilled); the bay also has limited selection and most of their stuff is overpriced – their bread is usually past it’s sell by date and visibley covered with mould, the produce is very poor quality and limited slection and you can never count on getting something you got today on your next visit; the forks – i don’t eat meat so there is much there for me – the fish at the fish monger is limited selection; fenton’s will sell you stale, mouldy cheese (and i don’t mean blue chees) and you can get a limited selection of overpriced produce and pasta and the “market;” and there is no one store where you can get all your groceries in one stop – i make the rounds of the bay, vita health, pharmaplus and fredettes to get the few things i can find downtown and otherwise i trek out to the halal meat shop, deluca’s, organanza, safeway or superstore – i’m not from winnipeg and i marvel at the lack of green grocers and options in shopping, including online grocery shopping ’cause i have better things to do than go from store to store just to get a week’s supply of groceries

    1. Hi jpm, I’m really sorry to hear you’ve found it disappointing. I actually find the Bay’s prices to be pretty good and I’ve never had a problem with bad bread.

      I know it can be more convenient to shop in one location for everything, but I love going from store to store to get what I need. I find the experience much more satisfying because I’m buying from a place that really specializes in that product. I find when I go to the big grocery stores they often don’t carry a lot of specialty items either, so I still have to go to a specific shop.

      Well the good news is we’ve all been assured the grocery store at the Bay is going to get even better when Zellers moves in–I hope you’ll find something you like then!

      1. you have to check the bread, etc. VERY closely – check the sell by dates and look at the bread – after buying a mouldy loaf by accident i tend to avoid buying bread there – when i do i have to check it carefully as i can often see visible mould because sell by dates are not checked by staff and are left on the shelves, even after their sell by dates; produce – there was the time i bought rotted baby carrots by accident, now i check all the produce quicly and only buy what i can consume by the next day or two as they seem to get produce too close to overripe and it has no shelf life (i’ve wasted a lot of money throwing away produce that should last longer than a day or two when i get it home); i’m just talking about getting basics in one spot or neighbouring shops – i’m happy to head up to deluca’s for their quality cheeses and specialty products; i’m not from winnipeg and am used to having a range of options, from basic to specialty in the same area within a couple of blocks from home or work; winnipeg is incredibly overpriced and downtown even more so (esp. when you consider the poorer quality items being offered for those prices), but i guess if this is all you know then you don’t know what you are missing

  4. I don’t actually live downtown but I work down here and don’t have a car. I do most of my grocery shopping at the Bay after work and take it home on the bus. I don’t find it to be overpriced and have never found their bread to be stale or mouldy. If it were, that would likely be a supplier problem, not a store problem because the bread is probably stocked by a supplier (I used to manage a small grocery store).
    Their produce is much better than the stuff you find at Superstore and prices are better than Sobey’s. In fact, I think the Bothwell cheese is the best price I’ve found. Plus, they get their stuff from the same supplier as Safeway so they have all the Safeway in-store brands. I can’t get enough of the O brand organic herb salad. It is amazing in wraps!

  5. My girlfriend and I have lived downtown for years, and our grocery shopping has never been an issue.

    We just drive to Superstore every couple of weeks (granted, this would not be as easy without a car), and walk over to Downtown IGA if we’ve run out of something we need before then.

    By the way, this is a great blog, Peggy! I just discovered it.

  6. I manage and live in a Senior’s building downtown and yes, The Bay has groceries, albeit overpriced. My concern is what might happen to The Bay and how it might affect the groceteria.
    We keep advertising to bring people downtown, but we also need to know that not everyone has a car. That is one of the reasons for living downtown, along with easy access to services. Let’s keep an eye on this one!

    1. @Trudy I was talking with Manny at the Bay’s grocery store the other day and he said that when the Zellers moves into the basement, the grocery store will only get better. Looking forward to it!

  7. There are two (maybe three?) Costco’s in Winnipeg. I live walking distance to the Henderson Sobey’s yet I never walk there – I always drive because there is no way I could haul all that I need to buy back by foot. And Costco is way out on Regent – yet I think nothing of the trip.
    I think too much weight is placed on having groceries available via local distance if one lives downtown; the reality is, based on above, there are more closer options already existing to anyone living downtown who wants to hoof it on foot than any other neighbourhood/community.

  8. I live downtown, work downtown. I do not drive nor is taking a bus an easy option as I have trouble getting on and off buses. I was very pleased with Zellers opening in the Bay but since January the meat selection is next to none. Not even hamburger half the time is available!

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