New Westminster may soon have the distinction of having the most large grocery stores per capita in the Lower Mainland.
Wal-Mart has applied to open a new grocery supercentre in its Queensborough store. Thrifty Foods has just been announced as an anchor tenant in Sapperton’s coming Brewery District mixed-retail/residential complex next to SkyTrain and Royal Columbian Hospital. A new Safeway is coming to the Plaza 88 development at New Westminster SkyTrain. And of course, the River Market will open this summer as a newly food-focused destination with an as-yet-unnamed anchor grocer.
Meanwhile, Save-On just opened last summer up at Sixth & Sixth near the established Safeway in Royal City Centre, and IGA continues to draw Quayside & Downtown shoppers in Columbia Square. Then there’s the Safeway on McBride, big-box stores like PriceSmart, Choices and Superstore in neighbouring Burnaby and Coquitlam, a plethora of small local mom ‘n pop produce shops, specialty bakeries and butchers, and the Royal City Farmers Market.
How many grocery choices does a small city need? New Westminster has gone for so long with only a few megastores, and now suddenly we’re being inundated with them.
Perhaps there’s something we don’t know. I’d love to see the market research behind the decisions to locate new stores here. Big chains like Wal-Mart, Save-On and Thrifty Foods don’t open new locations on a whim.
My hunch: this is one more indication that the pace of change is about to accelerate in this city. Those new condo towers are finally ready to be filled with empty nesters and young professionals priced out of downtown, and the big box stores know it. New West is about to get a lot livelier.