The smile’s in the aisle: Thrifty Foods comes to New West

I have a confession. I have a Thrifty Foods problem. I grew up in Mill Bay BC (home of one of the first Thrifty Foods) so it holds a special place in my heart. I dream about the cheese scones and I wax philosophically about the marinated meats. It's grocery nirvana.

The new Thrifty's. Photo: Erin Jeffery.
The new Thrifty's. Photo: Erin Jeffery.

I have a confession. I have a Thrifty Foods problem. I grew up in Mill Bay BC (home of one of the first Thrifty Foods) so it holds a special place in my heart. I dream about the cheese scones and I wax philosophically about the marinated meats. It’s grocery nirvana. The first time I brought my husband home to the island, I told him we HAD to go to Thrifty Foods.

“Its just a grocery store, “ he said, “ I hate grocery stores”

“Not this one”, I smugged, “It’s special. It’s the happiest place on earth…it’s the Disney of grocery stores!”

He was not impressed. But he did like the scones.

As I was waiting to cross the street to check out the new store that opened today in Sapperton, I excitedly texted the aforementioned husband.

“The new Thrifty’s in Sapperton is open 24 hours seven days a week! HOORAY!”

“Oh great”, he responded “ I’ll never see you again”.

Islanders are passionate about Thrifty’s. Its a community grocery store that is more locally and sustainably focused than other big grocery chains. The outer perimeter of the store is filled with BC produce, local artisan baked goods and sweets, ocean wise seafood and, of course, Island Farms dairy products (yum). Grocery items in the centre of the store range from well known brands to locally canned preserves to Thrifty’s own label. Price wise, they are comparable on most things, but they do tend to be a bit higher priced for butcher items. The quality and selection is beyond compare. Think Whole foods without the big price tag.

Have I mentioned the scones?

The best thing for me about Thrifty’s has always been its staff. They are almost freakishly friendly.. Today, I had a cookie handed to me by one of the managers from my ‘hometown store’ who just came over to help. He had a friendly smile and nod (and cookie) for everyone who passed his way, chatting with them about the new store and how happy they were to be in New Westminster. I later was in the cereal aisle looking for oatmeal when out of nowhere, a helpful Thrifty-er explained the multiples pricing structure. Then thanked me for hanging out at their new store.

I think they might put something in the cookies…

I do wish that the outer perimeter was a bit wider to allow for carts and strollers to navigate through easier. The grocery aisles were nice and wide, but I did get in a traffic jam at the scones…they really are that good. I’d also recommend walking or taking the train if possible. Not only is it better for our planet, but the parking lot underneath the store is $5 an hour for parking. They do validate, but it’s still a bit steep. And with only one machine to pay for parking at, it can also get a wee bit busy.

All in all, I think this store is going to be a great addition to the New Westminster community. They already have scads of events coming up partnering with the Royal Columbia Hospital Foundation, and the store is sure to be a welcome addition to an area that doesn’t have many grocery stores in easy access.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I hear a scone calling my name…

Erin Jeffery

An actor by training and a communicator by trade, Erin has a thing for language. She is the Communications Coordinator for Uptown New Westminster BA as well as providing marketing and communications assistance for other fabulous clients. She first developed her passion for New Westminster and its environs as the Account Manager at Hangar 18 Creative group in charge of the visual identity redesign of River Market. She is the Vice President of the Board of the Arts Council of New Westminster where she uses her 'jazz hands' to get people as excited about the arts as she is. She is involved in the Ecole Qayqayt community school PAC, plays football and has her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre, Concentration Acting from the University of British Columbia. She is a New West resident who is proud of her city, passionate about the arts, and a bit too obsessed with cheese. Follow her on Twitter at @erin_jeffery.

Erin Jeffery is a really valued member of the Tenth to the Fraser community. Interested in joining our pool of writers? Please see these submission guidelines.


  1. I love thrifty's and was also giddy with extreme glee to find out there was a 24hr location opening beside the hospital. Only a few minutes from where I live, and right beside the place that holds most of my attention, RCH, I was once again nodding my approval for New Westminster's recent growth.

  2. I lived in Victoria for a long time, and shopped at Thrifty's all the time. We've hit the Tsawwassen Thrifty's on our way to Pt Roberts (or back) fairly frequently as well. Interesting that it's open all day.

    Is it just me, or does New Westminster have a lot of grocery stores? Two Safeways (and I think a 3rd in Plaza 88), and IGA, Donald's, Save On Foods, Walmart, Choices and now Thrifty's.

    We must eat a lot in this town.

    1. New West is fortunate to have several options to "Shop New West"! As I grew up on the Island I am familiar with Thrifty's. Just the name alone should appeal to our citizens. Great to know they are open 24/7. Always good to support our local businesses.
      Now we can start working on transportation so we can easily access them. I think Thrifty's has the solution with 24/7 I will be shopping in the night to avoid the gridlock of drive through traffic. Cough, Choke.. Lowes…… open 24/7? I'll be there! Wouldn't it be great if we were to make New West a 24 hour city!! There are night people living here.

    2. It is true New West has a lot of grocery stores, though they are not always ideally located. In Queensborough, we had a Price Smart in Hamilton (Richmond) but it is now closed. There is a grocery opening at the Wal-Mart, though that is not where I prefer to shop. Right now, Donald's and the IGA are the quickest for me to get to.
      Even the West End is not particularly well-served for grocery stores.
      I've checked out the Thrifty's, it looks great, particularly the seafood section.

  3. Lowe's? Why would I support a bloated, foreign, box-box nightmare where the $8/hr staff don't know their stuff, sending profits overseas, when we have an excellent, locally-owned hardware store a couple of blocks away with a great staff, great inventory, and 30+ years of serving the community? It is a shame to see a certain current council member drooling over Lowe’s (he mentions them about once per meeting), when we know they will do everything they can to push Griff out of business.

    John, Thrifty’s is part of the transportation solution. Now people in Sapperton will not need to drive somewhere to get their groceries. There is also the Skytrain station less than 200m away, so you can pop over from the West End during the day and fly right over the traffic!

  4. I'll be checking Thrifty's out this weekend. Another transportation bonus: there's a Modo (car co-op) car right there. I can shop, put my grocs in the car, deliver them to my house up the hill, and get the car back within 30 mins. The fact that this store is near Sapperton Stn is a huge bonus as well. It's part of my commute, so on my way home!

    I'm awaiting the arrival of the grocery store at New West station also – another one very conveniently located at a skytrain station.
    My recent post Mountain Biking by Bus

  5. It is nice to be able to walk to Thrifty Foods in Sapperton and home again. Good location and a great store right in my backyard!

  6. If you think Thrifty's is local, your totally wrong. The are owned by Sobies. The second biggest grocery retailer in Canada, and the top 20 in North America. LOcal, NOT!!!

  7. It is true that they are now owned by Sobeys. But Thrifty Foods was founded in BC, and still has a head office for the chain in Victoria. I like that they carry a lot of BC products too! (And my new addiction, sour jujubes!)

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