At Fresh St. Market, food isn’t simply fuel that people pick up and consume before carrying on with the rest of their day. It’s an experience—with outlets offering a original and very extensive mix of artisan baked goods, including the celebrated Mile High Cinnamon Buns and Bavarian Pretzels, which are baked fresh every day.
That’s along with bountiful bins of colourful fruits and vegetables enabling people to "eat the rainbow", along with numerous premade salads and a fresh meat selection that can match any specialty store.
The premium on unprocessed food at Fresh St. Market is apparent upon entering any of the four Metro Vancouver stores.
In West Van, for instance, the first thing customers encounter is the gigantic and spacious produce section. In the Vancouver store, it’s the baked goods, with the fresh produce immediately to the right.
“I think what we’re trying to do here is focus on fresh—and give the customer excellent service,” the Vancouver store leader, Glen Young, tells the Straight by phone. “I like the idea of the produce being first because I think produce is a destination. People come to your store for produce.”
Young spoke in advance of the Vancouver store’s looming first-year anniversary on Saturday (February 6). Located at 1423 Continental Street in the Bjarke Ingels–designed Vancouver House project, the 15,000-square feet of retail floor space is in a rapidly evolving Beach District on the southwestern side of the downtown peninsula.
“You can walk out the door down to Beach Avenue, and within two minutes, you’re at English Bay,” Young says.
Because it’s not as large as other outlets, the Fresh St. Market store in Vancouver makes the most of its space by placing cashiers in a row along the western wall behind screens. Customers line up and then approach whichever one is available first, like in a clothing store, and then head out sideways toward the exit.
“It’s a different style of lining up like that,” Young says. “It seems to work for us.”
The company reinforces its brand on the Fresh St. Market YouTube channel. There, chef Stu Smith shares some of his recipes, such as beef gravy and Yorkshire pudding.
The channel also includes videos of him judging rather amusing back-to-back cooking competitions between Whitecaps players.
The Vancouver Fresh St. Market outlet also has an in-store restaurant, Fork Lift Kitchen & Bar. “What other grocery store can you go to and have an amazing burger and a glass of wine or a beer?” Young asks.
Fresh St. Market is owned by Georgia Main Food Group, which operates the grocery operations of locally owned H. Y. Louie Co. Limited. Georgia Main’s name pays tribute to the founding of the family business at 255 East Georgia Street back in 1903.
Created by H. Y. Louie as an intermediary between Chinese gardeners and white grocers, the company continues to thrive as one of B.C.’s longest-lasting family enterprises.