Small Ontario grocery outlet chain sees big spike in business after TikTok shows low prices
Grocery prices have been putting pressure on budgets everywhere thanks to record inflation and profiteering grocery chains, but there's one smaller supermarket company in Ontario that has managed to keep costs for customers low — and thanks to a popular TikTok showcasing the store's deals, it's seeing more foot traffic now than ever.
While Loblaws heir and billionaire Galen Weston remains the arch nemesis of Canadian shoppers due to his stores' exorbitantly high price points for basic necessities, an independent competitor called The Grocery Outlet has emerged as the hero we've all been desperately needing at the check-out.
Though the store has been around for 25 years and has 13 locations across Southern Ontario, some residents may not have been aware of its deep discounts of 30 to 70 per cent off all types of products, including specialty items and brands that would usually be quite expensive.
And, after one TikToker this week shared her hack of frequenting the store to keep her grocery bills down, a lot more people are jumping on the Grocery Outlet train.
User @bailsbarbosa started her video with a PSA saying "Ontario friends, you need to visit this store" before sharing an impressive haul she was able to purchase at a GTA Grocery Outlet for $37.91, and comparing the price she was able to nab for some items to their cost at grocers like Metro.
"I’ve been trying to gatekeep this one but the price of food is TOO MUCH now," Barbosa writes in the caption of the video, which has amassed some 240k views at the time of publication.
The organic, understandably viral post has now led to a noticeable change on the ground at Grocery Outlet's locations despite the clip only being two days old.
"We don't have the figures yet, but since the TikTok it certainly seems busier, and we've had a lot of phone calls and interest in our Facebook and website," Pam, one of the two sisters who co-own the brand, tells blogTO.
"We were really taken by surprise and flattered. And we're really excited."
January is usually quite a busy month for the store anyways, she says, due to people seeking ways to save money after overspending during the holidays, especially amid the inflation woes Canadians have been dealing with for months.
But, the TikTok has really increased attention to the retailer — which has shops in cities like Toronto, Ajax, Whitby, Cobourg, Peterborough and Oshawa — and has also spawned subsequent social media posts about the store in the last day or so.
According to the business's website, it manages to maintain such low prices by dealing directly with manufacturers and distributors, stocking excess inventory that these stakeholders need to get rid of, along with products with cosmetic flaws or older packaging (like cross promotions that have since ended).
While the Grocery Outlet name may be a new, very welcome discovery for some residents as food prices have hit such a high recently, the chain's owners say that they've long been serving as a best kept secret for all sorts of customers.
"People call us all of the time and say we are a godsend; not just people who are down and out, but people from all walks of life, who drive Land Rovers and Mercedes-Benzes, too. People are trying to be smart with their money — why would they spend $8 on something when they can get it here for $2?" Pam says.
With food becoming so unaffordable in Ontario that people are resorting to stealing from supermarkets like Loblaws, and prices set to get even worse this year, Grocery Outlet's locations will undoubtedly be gaining even more customers as word of the store spreads.
"We're ecstatic, but we're freaking out a little bit hoping that we can meet people's expectations and that they do come back," owners say. "We're hoping we make a good impression and people are happy with our deals."
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