Chalo FreshCo, a Welcome Addition to Diverse Brampton
I must admit, I cringed a little when I saw the ad for Chalo FreshCo featuring a very enthused lady screaming “Variety, Value, VAH!”. Maybe it was the fact that it’s something my mom would actually say upon entering a South Asian grocery store that was clean while still providing a great deal of options at great prices. But cheesy marketing aside, there’s a sincere message to be found at Chalo FreshCo.
Entering the newly opened and renovated store, I was humbled more than anything at the atmosphere and sense of community amoung the crowds scurrying with carts around the store. To an outsider — we’re all brown — we’re the same. But brown people, aka Desi folk, are actually represented by many religions, cultures and languages that have often segregated us in the past. Chalo FreshCo seems to really hit the nail on the head with understanding the complexities of South Asians to bring us together.
Chalo FreshCo in Brampton was just a regular FreshCo once upon a time. They served the community well. But they knew that their loyal customers were still having to make multiple trips to cover their weekly needs. They decided to create a South Asian grocery section consisting of five segregated aisles and expand categories around the perimeter of the store bringing in thousands of new products to help alleviate the extra trips their customers were making.
Need rice? You’ll more than likely find your brand of choice here on their wall of rice. Masala? They’ve got an aisle for that.
Basket size is another thing to note. It doesn’t seem that the normal size grocery carts are big enough for the average customer. It’s common to see a person’s cart stacked with items interlaced strategically like a stellar game of jenga.
Produce is perhaps the most abundant and colourful section with authentic little carts inspired off the streets of India.
The Chalo FreshCo meat department consisted of three segregated counters. One for seafood, another for regular non-halal meat and a segregated counter for halal owned and operated by a third party called Al-Marwa.
Aside from a butcher on-site, they have a very impressive variety of Frozen Boxed (including bulk size packs!), deli and fresh tray packs. Please note that not all halal products sold are hand slaughtered halal.
Another interesting and notable feature at Chalo FreshCo was their in store food service — Amaya. Well known around the city for their South Asian cuisine. Amaya inside Chalo FreshCo is more quick service than anything else and they have weekly door stopper deals like this vegetable thali for only $2.99. If you’re craving meat items, all their meat (at this location specifically) comes from Kabul Farms — providing hand slaughtered halal.
We had the pleasure of a store tour with the Operator, Donny Sandher. Such a nice guy – so down to earth, he stops several times through our tour to speak with shoppers, answer their questions and even pick up traces of garbage. Joking around with fellow colleagues he creates an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. Donny expresses his awe at the community’s support. He’s had nothing but compliments and messages of thanks from shoppers, new and old who come in to experience Chalo FreshCo.
We’re excited about the growth of this new banner for the Sobey’s family — they’ve done a phenomenal job connecting with the community. We’re sure they’ll continue with their success.
Now let’s talk about the other side. There is understandable concern for smaller independent ethnic retailers when large corporations start building on their cultural turf. My thinking is, there will always be a need for small, intimate specialty shops — they will always have the upper hand in being extremely granular and quick to respond to their customer’s needs. The real test in their survival is how well can they adapt to the changing market. I feel like this will more often or not dictate their growth or decline. Our research shows that almost 80% of halal consumers still support local shops but concerns of cleanliness, food quality and halal fraud are serious threats to this loyalty. If an independent retailer is concerned about their survival in this competitive market, I would see them naturally growing and improving right along side corporate competitors.
10615 Bramalea Rd Brampton