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

Grab A Brew Reading Line-Up

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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  1. Hey CBB, just stopping by to say hi. Judging by the number of subscribers you have looks like the site is going great! Hope you start earning money off it soon.

    1. Cheers Troy….. maybe one day. The site is moving soon as I’ve hired a designer to change it up and move me to self-hosted. I think I will lose all my WordPress followers though unless you subscribe via email. I hope to see you around mate. It’s great having friends around from the beginning. How’s things with you? Are you working right now?

      1. You should get the new site up and leave the old one running for a while with a message about the new site. All your followers will make their way over.

        Work has been slow and I am just getting a day here and there. There are a couple shows starting up in the next 2 months that I might be able to get on, but I’m not holding my breath.

        As always I am on the lookout for other forms of income.

        1. I may leave it here as well. I’ll see what the designer says but I’ve been posting that I’m moving in hopes people move. Google Reader is no more as of July 1 so I’m hoping any RSS readers that use Google Reader move over to Bloglovin. I have the link on the home page for CBB.
          I just finished watching the 40th Emmys, we taped it. Have you ever tried to get on a drama before? How hard is it to get casted in a soap opera?

  2. Hi Mr. CBB
    I haven’t really had the chance to check out No Frills. We are usually Walmart shoppers. If the prices are pretty good than it might be worth a look!

    1. If you are Walmart shoppers it’s probably worth price matching for you. We don’t always get to WM since it’s much farther away from our house. I’d certainly price match though if you get the flyers.

  3. I worked in a Foodland when I was in college. I really enjoyed working there and the people, it was a small town so the store was rarely ever too busy. In and out in a few minutes. The town doubled in size when the college students came! I also got to know more students too. Foodland was good to me 🙂 I would certainly visit a box store in a small town not likely in the city. Too many people in a small space for me.
    I waited in line at Walmart tonight fot at least 30 mins. 2 express lane cashiers and one in the others lane no word of a lie easily 60-70 people in the line. This walmart is bad for this and I know this but I keep going back! It is the closest store to my house unfortuately.
    I remember the small refrigerators in England and I shopped at Salisbury’s a few times.. I think that’s the name.

  4. I prefer buying from smaller grocers myself than larger chains. It’s not so much the quality I think for me but I find they can pretty much beat the prices I find at larger chains too. It’s part of the lifestyle that I’ve grown accustomed to which is walking to the places I need to get to and only carrying what I would actually be using.

    1. That’s what I did back home when I lived in the villages or small towns. When I lived in the big cities I drove more but I completely understand what you mean. So do you meal plan or make a shopping list?

  5. Hey Mr.CBB, grab a brew eh! I haven’t missed a word quite so much since moving to the North East (UK). They just don’t say brew here, apparently it’s a cuppa! At least I can still get Gravy on my chips. Have a good weekend mate!

  6. My weekly reading list!!!!! I saw a couple I’ve read already and a few that I’ll check later… I went shopping at No Frills for the first time today…. Not quite sure what to think yet, it was super busy, crowded and I had the hubby with me. As it was the first time there I didn’t know where anything was so half the battle was finding things on my list. The prices I managed to see looked good as far as that went. I even price matched a couple of boxes of my Tetley tea as Food Basics had the 216 count boxes on sale for a good price, that was amazingly easy…. I just told the girl I was price matching and showed her where it was in the FB’s ad. I had never done that here in town as the prices tend to be better at Foodland than at Your Independent Grocery out the east end. As for hubby, if he wasn’t asking dumb questions (How come those bananas are .77 a pound when these are .47??? the expensive ones were organic) he was adding stuff to the cart that wasn’t on the list….. I swear he can be worse than the kids were when they were little…. at least they listened when told No!… I would like to go back alone when the store isn’t as busy for a good prowl around…..You’ll see what we got next week when I post the shop…

    1. You know how us men like to put things in the cart when our wife isn’t looking. I presume the new No Frills in your Area is popular since it’s new but it may wear off after a while. Glad you enjoyed some of the posts but please do enjoy the others when you can. Have a great weekend Christine.

  7. Hey Mr CBB, that cheesecake looks awesome! Although I just love my plain old cheesecake with a hint of chocolate or some other concoction, I’d scarf this one down. Most of our grocery shopping is done at Walmart, but there is a small town grocer here that we love and has great sales occasionally. I love it because it feels so homey, but their regular prices are easily twice that of Walmart. Not in the budget right now. Mr. CBB, thanks much for the mention. You and Mrs. CBB have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

    1. Ya, I’d scarf it down too lol. That’s just it the smaller stores in small towns may be all that they have and the prices may be higher. These new smaller stores might be just what they need so they still get great weekly deals.

  8. As a consumer I like a grocery or drug store where my completely legit coupons don’t beep when scanned! This is one thing that makes me crazy at Walgreen’s. Even the tear-pad coupons in their own store beep when scanned.

    1. What does it mean when it beeps that it’s a counterfeit coupon? We don’t have that yet here but there is one store that has their own coupons that they actually scan all the others that i know of are manually rung in.

      1. Interesting! Almost all coupons are scanned at the register in the US, but there are different types of bar codes on the coupons and different stores seem to have different software. When it beeps it didn’t read the bar code and you feel like you’re some sort of coupon scammer!

        1. OH.. crikey, that sucks. I don’t think that every time a coupon beeps that it means it’s dodgy coupon and someone is trying to scam. People need to know that it may beep simply for an error. I’d hate if I was to feel that way while shopping…

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