8 places where you can buy groceries in downtown Kitchener
Think there are no grocery stores downtown? Think again, local grocer says
Sobeys and Zehrs have yet to make their mark in downtown Kitchener, but that doesn't mean you can't buy groceries in the city's core.
There are about a dozen places to buy food and other grocery staples downtown, according to Sam Nabi.
"I think people just can't place it in their heads what is available here," said Nabi, the co-owner of Full Circle Foods.
"Especially for people that are new to the city, it's hard to find all the little places where you can buy food downtown. And for a household like ours that doesn't own a car, it makes it a lot easier to know that there are options here."
While large chain grocery stores have become the norm in the suburbs, Nabi said they have remained largely absent from many urban cores and smaller local stores are starting to fill the gaps.
Nabi recently led a walking tour of the grocery options in downtown Kitchener and highlighted eight stores for people to check out on their next shopping trip.
18 Ontario St. N
Top grocery items: Fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, dairy, grab and go lunches, locally made soaps and candles
Owner Jordan Dolson said Legacy Greens started as a part-time market garden in 2014 on her parents' dairy farm in Atwood, On, growing greens, herbs, tomatoes and ground cherries. It has since blossomed into a full-fledged retail store. Nabi said Dolson does great work bringing fresh produce to the core — something that is often missing in urban centres.
50 Ontario St. S
Top grocery items: green coffee beans, honey, flour
Afri-Can Market is a new offshoot of the popular restaurant, East African Cafe. Aside from carrying variety store staples, Nabi said there are some unique food finds like green coffee beans that can be roasted and ground at home.
Mi Tienda Latina
103 Ontario St. S
Top grocery items: refried beans, plantains, adobo chiles, hot sauce, cheese, tortillas
"This is such a pillar of the community," Nabi said. Shoppers can order pupusas and other homemade dishes while picking up their groceries. Nabi said the store offers a real sense of community, along with a wide selection of authentic Latin American foods.
103 Ontario St. S
Top grocery items: chicken breasts, ground beef, spices, fresh flat breads, rice, pet food
This Hasty Market doesn't just offer snacks and lottery tickets, Nabi said. The store boasts a butcher counter and deli, pantry staples and household goods. Another plus: they're open late.
Full Circle Foods
3 Charles St. W
Top grocery items: bulk dry goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, organic and vegan options, vitamins and supplements
Nabi and his partner Julia Gogoleva took over Full Circle Foods just over a year ago, but the store has been in the community since 1981. Nabi said they are trying to bring in more grocery staples, in addition to the bulk food section and health food options the store is known for.
61 King St. E.
Top grocery items: Crackers, canned foods, rice, spices, pet food
Dollarama might seem like an unconventional place to buy groceries, but Nabi said dollar stores are becoming a big part of the food market across North America. Most dollar stores stock a wide range of products, often at more affordable prices than big box grocers.
16 King St. E.
Top grocery items: flour, sugar, rice, cereal, milk, eggs, pet supplies
Although variety stores can stock groceries at a higher price point, Nabi said they are still a good option for people on the go downtown. Evergreen Mini-Mart carries pantry staples, as well as pet supplies like cat litter.
8 Queen St. N
Top grocery items: fresh bread, local meat, eggs, milk, fruits and veggies, prepared foods, giftware
Nabi said J&P Grocery started as European-style grocer, but has since grown through collaborations with other local businesses. "It's less of a traditional grocery store and more like a market hall, where they've got different vendors in little corners," he said. The store has also become a popular place to grab lunch or a coffee.