Should it be a bit higher?
As the signs go up on the building at 1860 Bayview Ave. the Whole Foods job site is listing 34 openings for the new store they call Toronto Leaside. The WF opening is April 26 and new signs indicate that the Shoppers Drug Mart opening is not far off either.
FUNNY TRAFFIC SIGNALS
Be warned. The traffic lights to cross Bayview on both the north and south side of Broadway are of the “semi-actuated type 2 pedestrian signals” which won’t let you cross unless you push the “beg button.” Most people do, but many people are confused by the semi lights. This happened most notably at the busy corner of Bayview and Manor/Fleming. Councillor Burnside had them changed to show a Walk prompt on each cycle, button or no button.
The huge Shoppers Drug Mart empire must be seeking fresh talent all the time but Thursday morning it’s an appeal on Twitter for a pharmacist in East York. Nearby, scuttlebutt along Bayview Ave anticipates the opening of the SDM at 1860 Bayview (and Broadway). Conspiracy theorists had said that Whole Foods was reluctant to open there because snoopers from the Loblaw-owned drug chain would be into everything next door. Not likely and in any case WF will open at 1860 on April 26. It’s rumoured that this Shoppers will be close enough (too close?) to the one in the former Bayview Playhouse at 1601 near Fleming Crescent that perhaps 1601 pharmacist/manger Brian Mok may make a trip or two up the street to help out. Brian Mok
Whole Foods Market in the US has announced that it will close nine stories as it struggles with on-going sluggish sales. The stores that Whole Foods will shutter are in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico and Utah. Work continues here in South Bayview on the store which sits on the line between Leaside and Sherwood Park (Bayview and Broadway). This is known because workers can be seen during the day on the second level space which the store will occupy. There appears to be a mural installed which says “Leaside”.
HURTING AT THE CHECKOUT
The news from the US is proof positive of the grass-roots nature of the distress at WF which caused the delay of the 1860 Bayview store. All the talk of City of Toronto charges and the viability of the 1860 complex was uninformed distraction. WF is hurting where no business can afford to hurt — at the cash. Why? Many say the food is too expensive although that may not be an issue for many frankly affluent residents of Midtown Toronto. Others think organic and similar “purity” promotion is fictional. It may not be, but there is no uniform opinion on the subject.
Whole Foods has cancelled plans to open stores in Calgary and Edmonton and has delayed any likelihood it will grow to the 40 stores in Canada it once predicted. The organic and natural ingredient food chain says on its website that it has a total of 12 Canadian stores, five each in the Vancouver and Toronto areas (including Oakville) one in Ottawa and a new store that opened in Victoria in November. This does not include the store that is scheduled to open this Spring at 1860 Bayview Ave. The announcement makes it plain that the delay in opening at the Bayview-Broadway complex owned by RioCan is a result of Whole Foods business struggles in the U.S. Competition is great and WF has come under widespread media criticism for its high prices and sometimes doubtful value. Such products as Asparagus Water, although quickly withdrawn, were hurtful to the credibility of the firm.
Hilary Chan of Canada Trust TD Bank was tweeting Monday about efforts to create some interest (business?) at the off-site event up at the Glendon Campus of York University. Thing is, Hilary and her colleagues come from Branch 1918 down the street at 1860 Bayview at Broadway. TD bravely opened its branch there pretty much before anyone else was around. You have to start somewhere. The new branch may be quiet. But look, you have to start somewhere and we give these hardy folks credit for trying to build. As soon as the Whole Foods store opens there, and Shoppers Drug Mart arrives (where are they anyway?) things should be a bit livelier at 1860 Bayview.
In the whole long and rather sad story of the 1860 Bayview development “opening” the Whole Foods grocery store company has at last made what appears to be its first comment on its intention to open there. It came in the form of a tweeted reply to a local woman, Cindy May, who asked about the eagerly-awaited store. The wondering goes back nearly two years when the community saw the trumpeting of developers that Whole Foods would open on completion of the complex. The site is at the corner of Bayview and Broadway Ave. on the site of the former Brennan Pontiac. The building was completed and ultimately transferred to the hands of RioCan, the real estate investor and landlord. But there was nothing but silence from anyone until “coming soon” signs appeared on the exterior of the building. Then this fall a post from RioCan executive Jeffery Thompson told doubtful readers that Whole Foods would definitely open. Nowhere has it been recorded, except in the tweet two days ago, that Whole Foods itself has said a thing. Now there is a response to reader Ms. May, who asked on December 9: “Will you be opening a Leaside location” RioCan exec says Whole Foods WILL open at 1860 Bayview.
An indoor cycling studio called Cyclebar is opening soon at the “Whole Foods” complex at Bayview and Broadway Aves (1860 Bayview).
Hot speculation Thursday that Whole Foods Market might be taken over by U.S. grocery giant Kroger began to cool Friday. New York analysts say Kroger is not seeking to acquire the Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods and is more likely to expand its product offering or explore a smaller deal. Word that Whole Foods might be on the market is of interest in Toronto because of that firm’s locations here, and especially because of the yet-to-appear store at 1860 Bayview Ave.
1860 BAYVIEW AVE.
Recent remarks by Jeffrey Thompson, of RioCan, owner of 1860 Bayview, emphatically declared that WF would open at its Bayview and Broadway location, despite speculation that the grocer could pull out of the deal. Most observers believe Whole Foods delay in opening in South Bayview is related to business conditions in the U.S. WF has seen sliding results through four quarters and continues to be mocked for products which seem superficial. The most notable example of this was “asparagus water” for $6 U.S. A recent satire on HBO contained skits about ads for a block of ice with an avocado balanced on top for $25.99, a pomegranate that listened to National Public Radio $64.99, granola blown back and forth between two fans for $300 and tilapia wearing yoga pants for $84.99. RioCan executive says Whole Foods WILL open on Bayview
RioCan executive Jeffrey Thompson has waded into a lively discussion on the Facebook page Leaside Community Thursday to make it clear that Whole Foods will open at 1860 Bayview. Oh wait. Mr. Thompson didn’t just say that Whole Foods will open, he said Whole Foods WILL open. Like, let there be no mistake about this opening, friends. Thanks to Thompson for being candid. The entire series of posts at Leaside Community is fun to read, but it would seem that for an educated opinion, Mr. Thompson is the boss man. He is the asset manager at RioCan, according to his Facebook page. They own 1860 Bayview. There has been enormous speculation since the complex opened in the Spring without its anchor tenants anywhere in sight. Many have said that Whole Foods would just pull out. Well for all we know WF might like to pull out, but whether that is financially or legally easy is best left for Mr. Thompson to say. Or Whole Foods, if they ever said anything. The story that Whole Foods would have to pay to create a left-hand turn off Broadway onto Bayview seems just plain wrong, and Thompson says this. Whole Foods is a tenant. Tenants do not pay millions of dollars for the responsibility of the developer. The left turn lane requirement for this project has been on the books since they knocked down Brennan Pontiac.