Closure of Saskatoon grocery store may leave hole in downtown core

Some residents worry about what they'll do for groceries now that the Good Food Junction will be closing.

Commercial real estate expert says more people needed in area for new grocery store

Diana Bignell says she'll have to start paying people for rides in order to get her groceries. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Diana Bignell says it's going to be hard to find a replacement for the Good Food Junction. The inner-city grocery store in Saskatoon has announced it will be closing by the end of the month. 

The nearest grocery store is many blocks away and that's going to make life difficult for people in the area. The Good Food Junction is located at 20th Street and Avenue L S. 

"It's hard for me in the winter time. With a walker, you can't hardly push it through the snow. I have to start paying my friend $20 a trip to take me to the store and bring me back home. That's how much he charges," Bignell said while going into the store.

The problem is the closure will leave a large section of Saskatoon without a grocery store. Last year, a grocery store in the City Park neighbourhood shut down.

Now that the good food junction is closed as well, it leaves a huge hole.

Rachel Engler-Stringer, who's a professor in the college of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, said the long-term effects of the closure will mean more unhealthy people. 

According to the food security expert, people will have less access to good food, especially produce.

"Income matters a lot. And income relates to transportation," she said. "I think the biggest issue is one of ensuring that people who don't have access to a personal vehicle have access to a grocery store. So those are the people that the Good Food Junction are really trying to target."

The Good Food Junction will be closing after three years. (Kathy Fitzpatrick/CBC)

What will it take to bring a grocery store back to the area, especially in the downtown core?

According to one commercial real estate expert, a small grocery store will likely be built in the downtown core, but not before more people move into the area.

"I think it's vital. Any retailer wants to know they have customers," said Tom McClocklin, president and managing director of Saskatchewan with Colliers International. 

"Grocery stores are dependent on location, and people being nearby. And so it's very important that there's people within the proximity that will utilize the store," he said. 

The store said it's closing because there weren't enough people shopping there.

The Good Food Junction will be closing its doors at the end of January. (Kathy Fitzpatrick/CBC)