September 25, 2012
— The Whig-Standard

It's a story of a small eastern Ontario business growing by holding to its core concepts.

Starting off with a single produce store three decades ago in Cornwall, Farm Boy finds itself expanding from its eastern Ontario roots and will be opening its 13th store – this time in Kingston.

While competing against national and international chains, the company has continued to expand.

But don't call it a grocery store, says chief executive officer Jeff York.

"We're not a grocery store, we're a fresh store," he said.

Farm Boy, York said, isn't a one-stop shop.

"We don't carry toilet paper or dog food or things like that," York explained.

"You can go to other stores to get that. Go to Costco and buy, like, a month's supply of toilet paper, it's right across the street. We don't pretend to sell everything, but what you do find in our store will be the best."

The store focuses on selling produce, meats, deli items and baked goods, York said, and that there is a growing demand.

"There's a lot of competition in town, but we find that Kingston, like, they don't offer the right food for the population," he said.

"There's a demand for better, fresher food."

The latest store, located on Futures Gate just off Princess Street in the city's west end, will open Oct. 2.

The company — which also has stores in Orleans, Nepean, Kanata, Stittsville and Ottawa — had sized up Kingston as a possible site for a store in the past.

"We had been looking for a couple of years," said York, who has been with the company for the past three years after leaving discount retailer Giant Tiger.

"The building was sitting there empty. We had a couple of options, and then we were debating where to go. Then people from Toronto bought the building and we did a deal with them and added on 6,000 feet."

The new store will measure 22,000 square feet.

With a FreshCo store just to the east and Loblaws, not to mention Walmart, just a bit past Gardiners Road, Farm Boy has some competitors.

"We think it's the most central location, so we can get the downtown people — it's a short trip back — and then, in the west end, it's on the way to the Cataraqui mall and it's across the street from Costco," York said.

"We think it's a real central point and will be convenient for everybody."

The Kingston store will feature feature all of the bells and whistles of the chain's stores.

For example, the store will encourage customers to eat there as well as shop there.

"We want to make the whole shopping experience a food experience," York said.

The store will have a hot food counter featuring freshly made gourmet pizzas and paninis, among other items.

There will also be a 24-foot salad bar, a barista coffee bar and a cold chef counter.

And there will be an array of premade meals customers can take home and reheat.

The in-store dining experience is a "big trend" in North America as of late, York said, and was started by U.S.-based, supermarket chain Whole Foods Market.

"They kind of pioneered this having the eating experience in the stores, especially fresh stores," he said.

Farm Boy is also known for its line of freshly made products, such as salad dressings.

Not only will the Kingston Farm Boy store give residents another food-purchasing option, it will create about 130 full- and part-time jobs, York said.

The store concept will be unfamiliar to consumers unless they've been to another Farm Boy, York said.

"You have to walk it," he said, "to get it."

Farm Boy will open on Tuesday, Oct. 2, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:45 a.m.

484 Waterloo Street
London, Ontario