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A shopper walks through the aisles of South Asian products at Fruiticana on Fraser St. Photo: Husein Haveliwala

Ethnic groceries nourish communities

Canada’s ethnic supermarkets offer an emotional connect to home amid rising grocery prices and big-box competition.

By Husein Haveliwala , in City , on May 6, 2024

It is tough for independent grocers to make a go of it these days. Big-box stores continue to dominate the grocery market across the country and prices continue to climb, so profit margins are tight.

But it is not just dollars and cents at stake. In many Canadian cities, ethnic grocery stores provide not only cultural food stuffs, but a gathering place that is often the heart of the community.

The neighbourhood Indian, Pakistani, Persian, Chinese, Korean, Greek, Italian, Polish, and Mexican supermarkets often become “third places” or cultural hubs for communities to get a taste of home and see familiar faces. Amid the challenges — what keeps local ethic stores strong? 

This audio story explores how ethnic grocery stores create community space that fosters a sense of belonging and a taste of home. You’ll meet store owners, customers and a researcher about what these businesses mean to the community and why community members believe its critical for them to  survive.


Listen to the episode here: