A former grocer thinks downtown Winnipeg has few grocery options because there are still too few people living downtown and the ones that do have a variety of demands.

Peter Kaufman, the former owner of Kaufman’s Fine Foods, was hired by downtown development agency CentreVenture to report on the feasibility of a downtown grocery store.

The agency has been trying to attract a major grocery retailer to Winnipeg’s downtown area.

A number of grocery stores in downtown Winnipeg have closed in recent years, including the Extra Foods on Notre Dame Avenue and the Zellers location on Portage Avenue and Vaughan Street.

Grocery retailers have yet to step up to fill the gap, so CentreVenture commissioned both Kaufman and real-estate firm CBRE to come up with reports on what barriers there might be.

Kaufman said one of the main issues is the number of people in Winnipeg’s downtown. According to Kaufman, there aren’t enough, and they’re too spread out.

"Can one store fill the needs of everyone in the downtown in a walkable distance? No, and that’s where the problem is," he said.

He said a successful grocer would need an affordable long-term lease.

"It will have to have a 15 to 20-year long-term lease, and it will have to have reasonable rent, especially in the starting one or two years," said Kaufman.

He added the ideal location would be near Portage Place Mall or between Carlton Street and the University of Winnipeg.