Newmarket, Ontario-based organic grocery concept Nature’s Emporium is expanding its operations throughout the Greater Toronto Area. A Burlington location opened last week, and the retailer is looking to further expand in the region, including stores in Toronto’s rapidly-growing urban core.
The family-owned retailer now has three stores, with plans for more. Founded in 1976 as a food vendor at an Ajax flea market, the company grew in the 1990’s to open full-sized stores including a 50,000 square foot store in Newmarket, as well as a 20,000 square foot store in Vaughan. Last week, it opened its third store in Burlington, spanning 18,000 square feet in a commercial plaza at 2180 Itabashi Way, featuring organic food, as well as a cafe concept.
A fourth Nature’s Emporium, currently in the works, will anchor a development in Whitby, Ontario, as part of a new shopping centre development at Taunton Road and Brock Road. More locations will follow, according to the company’s representative broker Don Gregor of Aurora Realty Consultants.
New Nature’s Emporium stores will ideally be in the 17,500 square foot to 25,000 square foot range, targeting upscale markets where residents are more likely to purchase organic food. According to Mr. Gregor, target cities for Nature’s Emporium include Mississauga, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Barrie, as well as locations within the city of Toronto. In Toronto, targeted areas include Etobicoke, The Beach, Bloor West Village, and the King Street West/Liberty Village area, with the Yonge & Eglinton and Yonge and St. Clair areas having also been considered. Nature’s Emporium could also expand into downtown Toronto with a target size of about 15,000 square feet — a smart move, considering that the area is seeing unprecedented growth.
Downtown Toronto, as well as the Yonge Street corridor spanning northward, are both growing rapidly. As a result, unique retail opportunities abound as their populations expand. The Yonge & Eglinton area is growing quickly as new condominium towers are being built, with nearly 10,000 residential units in the pipeline. The area around Yonge and St. Clair will also see upscale development, with more announcements to be made shortly. Toronto’s downtown core is by far the biggest growth area of the three, with the city’s core population forecasted to grow at a rate unseen in any Canadian downtown. The current downtown population of approximately 250,000 residents is projected to almost double by the year 2041, creating new retail opportunities in various categories. Many of the new downtown Toronto residents are younger and earn relatively high incomes — a perfect demographic for organic grocers. Retirees with money are also flocking to the downtown core, attracted by convenience, entertainment and culture.