By L.H. Tiffany Hsieh | May 25, 2011 – 10:51 AM
The Village Grocer is moving to a new home in June.
The popular grocery store in Unionville will be closing shop soon for relocation to a brand new store near completion five minutes away on 16th Avenue at Kennedy Road.
“We’ve outgrown this place,” said owner Evan Mr. MacDonald of the Carlton Road location.
Mr. MacDonald and his wife, Cathy, started the Village Grocer with their extended family in 1986.
The store was located on Main Street Markham for the first four years. At the time, it was called the Markham Village Grocer.
The word “Markham” may have been dropped since, but the store has remained a community hotspot in town.
But after nearly 22 years in Unionville, where the building is leased, the MacDonalds say it’s time for a change.
“Your needs change and our needs changed. Some things become bigger over time,” Mr. MacDonald said, adding the move has been in the works for eight years. “If you don’t get on with it, you get left behind.”
With about 100 staff, the little family business that was, has evolved over the years. The new store is double the size of the current Village Grocer and will feature a bigger kitchen and more variety.
It’s located on a piece of property the MacDonalds purchased eight years ago.
“So we own it. It’s time for more than just a major facelift,” Mrs. MacDonald said. “We want to update the store and offer more.”
While there are things big chain stores such as Loblaws can do that they can’t do, “There is so much we can do that they can’t do”, Mr. MacDonald said.
These include homemade quality foods, excellent customer service and community involvement, he said.
“Probably half of what we sell here is homemade,” he said, from his mother-in-law’s fruit cake to minced meat and sausage rolls.
“We’d rather pay the people and do it the old-fashioned way,” he added.
Mr. MacDonald said he fully expects the new store to be busier and will hire more staff in time.
“It’s sad in a way — it’s nostalgic,” he said of the Unionville store. “When you are self-employed, it’s a way of life, it’s not a job.”
As the MacDonald bid goodbye to their home of more than two decades, some of their faithful customers are already looking forward to the new location.
Tammy Takeda, a regular customer since she moved to the area five years ago, said the main reason she’s been going to the Village Grocer is because of its bakery.
She said the new store looks like it will generate more business and observed parking will be easier there.
For Kevin Thistle, who has been shopping at the Village Grocer since 1993, it’s the friendly service that keeps him coming back.
“I’ve always loved the people from Evan on down who work at Village Grocer,” Mr. Thistle said. “Even when they move it’ll still be the same people involved and that’s the main thing.”
That being said, “I love their bagel chips and their other homemade dips and their meats are second to none,” he said. “Change is good and I have no problem with it.”