Business

New retailer aims to become Canada's largest Asian supermarket

For Real Food Mart employees inside the soon-to-open Sexsmith Road store this week. - Matthew Hoekstra
For Real Food Mart employees inside the soon-to-open Sexsmith Road store this week.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra

A long vacant big box store near Bridgeport Road has become a hive of activity. Inside, workers are preparing for the opening of the first new major grocery store in years in Richmond.

For Real Food Mart will open its doors June 26 at 3000 Sexsmith Rd., with the goal of becoming Canada's largest Asian supermarket.

On Wednesday, staff unpacked countless boxes inside the nearly 80,000-square-foot store, loading shelves with packaged food ahead of next week's ribbon-cutting ceremony. Other workers tested grocery scanning systems and tended to last-minute details of the newly-renovated space.

Founded by a group of Chinese investors, For Real bills itself as a comfortable and modern store catering to shoppers in search of Asian foods and produce. They've hired a staff of 300 to operate a store that "strives to be a significant part of the flourishing Asian culture that is immersed in (the cultural) mosaic (of) Canada," said president Xiangyun Liu in a letter provided to reporters this week.

"For Real Food Mart's goal is to become a one-stop shop for discerning customers, providing a wide selection of high-quality Asian brand products, as well as accommodating all of their grocery needs."

Built in 2005 for RONA, the store has long sat empty after the home improvement retailer moved out in 2008. Liquidation World is the only other retailer that attempted to operate in the space, but its LW store didn't last long.

The building has some unique features, boasting rooftop parking and purpose-built space for an outdoor garden centre. It's sandwiched between two major roads leading to the airport, Bridgeport Road and Sea Island Way, and is located steps away from the planned multi-tower neighbourhood of Capstan Village.

The site was previously occupied by one of Richmond's first schools, Bridgeport School, which was demolished in 1984.

For Real will face plenty of competitors in the local Asian grocery market in Richmond's City Centre area, although few can match its size.

Established retailers include T&T Supermarket in President Plaza, Osaka in Yaohan Centre, PriceSmart foods on Ackroyd Road, China World Super Market on Odlin Road and H Mart in Aberdeen Centre.

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