The Sweet Potato organic grocery store opened its second location at 1678 Bayview Ave. in May and has already garnered rave reviews from local shoppers.
Store owner Digs Dorfman told Streeter he chose the new Leaside location because the neighbourhood holds special meaning for him, as he went to high school here and made many friends who still live in the area.
“Leaside has a really strong, tight-knit community feel to it,” he said.
The price disparity
Raised by a single mom, Dorfman was introduced to organic food at a very young age: “My mom was into organics thirty years ahead of the trend.”
He was also inspired by his grandfather, who for many years owned the Sunnybrook Supermarket chain where Dorfman worked as a teenager.
As he got older, organics became more popular. However, the price disparity between healthy and not so healthy grocery options became huge. After he graduated university, Dorfman found that “eating healthy was a privilege of the wealthy.”
For this reason, at The Sweet Potato, they really try to keep things affordable for everyone, he said.
“We aim to sell the best quality, freshest organic and local goods at the lowest possible prices we can,” Dorfman said.
Before opening The Sweet Potato’s first location in the Junction, Dorfman ran the High Park Organic Market. Customers loved the outdoor market but missed it when it was closed once the weather turned cold. As nothing compared to the prices they were able to find there, many of them began to ask Dorfman, “Why don’t you open a store?”
The Sweet Potato, which Dorfman calls “probably the top independent health food store as far as organic food,” tries whenever possible to work with Ontario farmers, as well as with Quebec growers and suppliers.
Because small farmers are not always able to supply the bigger grocery chains, and as selling only at farmers’ markets and outside stands was not enough for many farmers to survive, Dorfman long ago realized that they needed a platform.
“We really aim to be a bridge to market for farmers,” he said.
So that people can make informed choices with their food dollars, the Sweet Potato’s flyers tell customers specifically which parts of Canada or the United States its products come from.
“We’ve earned our good reputation by being transparent,” Dorfman said.
The store offers something for everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions, including lots of vegan, gluten-free, Keto and Paleo options. Although they carry natural hair, skin care and beauty products, their main focus is fresh, high-quality food. To help busy families, prepared foods are also available in the store, which Dorfman described as “really special, with a highly trained, well-respected Toronto chef” creating the prepared foods on-site.
The Sweet Potato also tries to be environmentally conscious.
“Everything we do is aimed at sustainability,” Dorfman said. “We keep our waste very low. What waste we do have we try to divert to charitable organizations as much as possible.”
The Sweet Potato’s Leaside location is open Monday to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.