no frills toronto

Someone created a guide to where to buy groceries in Toronto instead of No Frills

As Toronto residents continue to grapple with rising food costs and inflation, many shoppers are opting to support local, independent, or discount grocery stores in place of giant supermarket chains like Loblaws or Metro. 

On April 20, Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood witnessed the loss of its long-standing Carlaw and Gerrard No Frills, igniting concerns about the community's accessibility to affordable groceries and kickstarting conversations among local residents about alternative options to support.

In a post to a local community Facebook group, a local resident, who preferred to just be called "James," uploaded a series of images in the classic banana-yellow No Frills style to highlight other independent grocers around the city to shop from. 

The collection of photos, cleverly dubbed, "no prob®: a list of alternates in no particular order," makes it "a lot easier to support your local independents" without the "convenience of Galen's." 

no frills toronto

The clever images use No Frills' recognizable branding to put the spotlight on independent businesses. 

The creator, James, tells blogTO that he's been working in the film business for almost two decades, working on TV commercials where he was responsible for "Greeking" — a process of changing or hiding corporate trademarks that have not been cleared legally for use in theatre, television, or film production.

"It became my job to create fake labels for products because it looks better than just putting some tape over the label, it looks legit. I enjoy the process of creating a reminiscent look — you get a subconscious read on what the product is supposed to be without getting into any hot water over copyrights," he explained. 

James' experience came in handy after he came across a collaborative post in another group, Shop Local: East Toronto, where a member asked others to name their favourite grocery stores in the neighbourhood now that the No Frills had shuttered. 

no frills toronto"I thought it would be funny to make some fake No Name-style graphics with the names of those stores, their addresses, and the distance each were from closed down No Frills," he told blogTO. 

"Politics aside, No Frills branding and marketing is on point! The bright yellow is such an eye-catching colour, and the brand is iconic. They've really leaned into that over the past few years. So I figured if I made visuals for each of those stores more people would see the message I saw in a more accessible way." 

Around the time the No Frills was gearing up to close, James says he started comparing the prices at the discount store to smaller grocery stores in the community, including Yao Hua Supermarket, Galaxy Fresh Foods, Masellis Supermarket, Ellas Meat Market, and Mister Greek Meat Market. 

no frills toronto"The prices and quality of produce in East Chinatown was usually better, and the local butchers all had better prices and way better quality meat. Plus, most of these places were less than 2 km from Carlaw and Gerrard. That's why I added the distance where the weight would usually be on the graphic," he explained. 

James says the community's response to the No Frills spoof has been "super positive" so far. 

no frills toronto"Shopping at No Frills was convenient; big free parking lot, reasonable prices, PC points — but at the expense of so many small businesses with better quality products, or more interesting products, and no marketing budget," he said. 

"We've now got an opportunity to support all the small shops that make our neighbourhood so great. And after the record profits, price fixing on bread, and now 50 per cent markups on dairy — it's easy to say goodbye to Galen."

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