PF Weekly Grab a Brew

PF Weekly Grab A Brew #25:The Box by No Frills a smaller discount-store experience

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Loblaws Ready To Help Canadians Save More 

A few weeks ago Calgary got its first taste of a smaller discount-store experience with the opening of The Box a No Frills store. From reading the CBC article the new store stands at 10,000 sq ft compared to the big daddy No Frills stores at 25,000 sq ft. My understanding is that Loblaws which is Canada’s biggest grocer is testing out a smaller version of the larger No Frills stores to see if it meets the consumers needs in urban areas.

I’m betting consumers will put this new store to the test wanting discounts and low prices just like they do any other store. It’s not going to be any different for those who want to save money so if the prices aren’t right they might just head else-where.

What is an Urban area in Canada? 

According to Statistics Canada, an urban area in Canada is an area with a population of at least 1,000 people where the density is no fewer than 400 persons per square km.- Wikipedia

Loblaws already has over 1000 grocery stores from coast to coast but changing up the retail space and paring down what they sell might make a difference to some shoppers. Also, if you haven’t heard Sobeys is taking over for Safe-way out West which may bring some big changes to those that frequent Safe-way and shop there each week. A few of our fans who participate in the Grocery Game Challenge have shared some excellent shopping deals from Safe-way. It seems there’s something going on all around us behind the scenes with the grocery shopping giants.

Pick Me

It feels like everyone is saying, pick me, pick me and we are waiting to see who is going to give us the best bang for our buck and with all the bells and whistles, but not everyone wants that. With Target recently coming to town here in Ontario it seems the competition keeps getting bigger in the bid for customer loyalty.

Target brought us the 5% discount Target RedCard that gives it’s customers an automatic discount on what they purchase. Sobeys has Club Sobeys points and Metro has Air-miles, there’s a program every where we turn around these days. Even Shoppers Drug Mart that sells grocery items has the Shoppers Optimum Program which is lucrative to many who shop their even if the prices are higher than the grocery store.

I’ve also noticed that President’s Choice now has a PC PLUS program where you can load products each week that are personalized for you. If you purchase them you get even more PC Points added to your account. This is over and above what you already get for PC points and is exclusive to Loblaws stores only.

I for one haven’t shopped in Target since our first road trip to the grand opening of the store. The prices are still far from comparable to No Frills, Food Basics. We rarely go to Wal-mart simply due to travel time and again the prices aren’t always as comparable either and if we do find a deal we simply price match it at No Frills.

There are many people I’ve spoken to over the course of running this blog that do enjoy shopping in the smaller type grocery stores or markets in their community simply for ease of shopping. Lots of little towns have Foodland a smaller grocery store part of the Sobeys family along with Freshco, Price Chopper, IGA, Thrifty Foods and Lawtons Drugs. Although higher priced Foodland does have sales like every other grocery store but also delivers a personal appeal to many who frequent the shop.

I’ve been to Foodland locations before and it’s quaint and everything seems with a pleasant atmosphere. You can stroll around up and down aisles and get in and get out in a reasonable amount of time. At least in the shops I went into. I don’t get that feel in the bigger grocery stores and for some that can be overwhelming when there is too much going on.

Not everyone wants to have to travel a 10 minutes across a grocery store floor just to grab a bag of milk and loaf of bread to take home for dinner. I’m not stranger to these big grocery stores like The Real Canadian Superstore, Wal-mart and even No Frills although the stores are far from the size of RCSS and Wal-mart they still are big enough.

Tesco UK

Back home we  have Tesco UK  a multi-national grocery and retailer with many formats and I guess how I see the various Loblaws stores. I shopped at Tesco’s on occasion but I also frequented the smaller discount grocery stores to save even more money on the same products. I also shopped often since I only had a refrigerator the size of a beer fridge in my kitchen so getting in and out and great prices were important to me.

The big box grocery stores are full-service, one-stop shop type stores where you can do it all without wasting time and gas running from shop to shop. It may be ideal for those that don’t have the time to travel around and want to get it all done in one area.

Tesco’s also opened Tesco Express approx 2000 sq ft which is a convenience type store that stocks the higher end products. Essentially a very small version of the big box but aiming for convenience for shoppers that want to get in and get out which you might find in smaller villages and towns or petrol (gas) stations. Maybe this is where we are going to start seeing Loblaws heading scaling down the store into smaller versions spread out across Canada.

You don’t always need one big presence to make an impact, many small ones do as well. It’s like seeing a Tim Horton’s on every corner and you know that you are guaranteed to see at least one. The same may ring true with the grocery stores. They say out of sight out of mind but if you’re always seeing it then it may be the first place you turn to shop just like many get their morning coffee fix.

You never know, it may just be a better way to shop for those that don’t want to spend all day in a store and enjoy the small town feel, personal touch. It might bring a joy to those looking for ease of shopping if they aren’t able to make their way around a big store without discomfort and other distractions.

From No Frills, to the The Box by No Frills to who knows a convenience store called the “The Little Box” might pop up one day in a community near you. When competition gets hot anything is possible so get ready Canada.

Would you shop at The BOX if it were in your town or city?

Do you shop in any smaller grocers where you live?

What do you really want as a consumer?

On that note…. let’s grab a brew and something sweet.

Top Recipe


If you haven’t had a change to check out my New Facebook Page titled The Free Recipe Depot please come around and Like my page. It’s a place where I share recipes and only recipes from blogs and websites from around the web. You come share your recipe and I’ll share it with my fans. It’s that easy.

Today’s top recipe goes to Walking On Sunshine for sharing their Chocolate Bliss Cheesecake on my new Facebook page this week. I wouldn’t pass it up if it were served to me.

Don’t forget to pass by my Canadian Budget Binder Facebook Page every Sunday for Frugal Food Sunday to share a blog recipe so I can share it with my over 5800 fans!!

PF Weekly Reading Line-Up

Here are a few (20) blog posts that I thought were worth mentioning this week from blogs that I connect with here at Canadian Budget Binder.

Top Story:Avoiding the impulse buy after getting out of debt- How to buy new stuff after getting our of debt- Eyes on the Dollar

Have a great week everyone and I hope you enjoyed this edition of my PF Weekly#25 Grab a Brew.


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