If ever there was a community in Toronto that needed or deserved a supermarket, it would be hardscrabble Flemingdon Park.
So if the Nov. 24th opening of Sunny Foodmart at the Flemingdon Park Shopping Centre is a harbinger, this is the beginning of a big success story for this community.
Thousands of people streamed through the 35,000 square foot facility on opening day to purchase fresh vegetables, meats, seafood and other items, keeping a dozen cash registers busy most of the day. The store even operates a food court, a special Halal section and a bakery.
“We’re really, really happy with the turnout of people,’’ said Sunny Foodmart executive Karen Kui.
“Where did these people come from?’’ joked Peter Dai, whose Yorkland Investments group owns the shopping mall. “I never expected this number of people. I’m very surprised. They must have done a good job of advertising.’’
The area south of Eglinton Avenue and east of Don Mills Road that caters to a global village of various language groups hasn’t boasted a grocery store since a Food Basics outlet closed at this strip mall in 2006. So it’s not surprising that this store is a big deal for all the residents in the numerous high-rises, townhouses and Toronto Community Housing that span the district.
“I think this is critical. I’m really glad to see Sunny Foodmart has recognized the importance of the market,” said Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne, whose riding includes about 21,000 Flemingdon Park residents.
“It has been very worrisome. I have had quite a few complaints that there has been no grocery store there. I have had quite a few people irate about it.’’
Although a Shoppers Drug Mart outlet, which opened several years ago in the spot vacated by Food Basics, sells some packaged and canned foods, it doesn’t compare to a supermarket.
“Before this store opened, I had to take a bus or walk to the East York Shopping Centre to the west of here on Overlea to shop at another Food Basics,’’ said Carol Murphy, a local resident. “This store will be a lot better than Food Basics because you can get fresh meats and seafood.’’
Sunny Foodmart operates another store at Leslie and Finch Square and caters largely to an Asian market.
Yorkland Investments spent more than $2-million to construct the exterior of the building while Kui’s group absorbed interior costs. Kui didn’t reveal the cost.
“It’s a big gamble, a lot of money to gamble on this building but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that people will come to the mall to shop at this store and our other stores,” Dai said.
“Without the supermarket here, not many people come here but now that we have a supermarket, we hope that a lot more people will come to the mall,” said Fred Kim, who has operated a shoe-repair shop in the mall for decades.
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