New Store Opens in the Junction: Organic Garage
New Grocery Store Promises Organics For Less
Organic Garage is a new grocery store in Toronto’s west end that promises 100% certified organic produce at the lowest possible prices. It operates out of the reconstructed remains of an old industrial warehouse that used to sit in the shadows of the long-since defunct Maple Leaf Mills on Junction Rd.
As a Junction local, I was eager to see what they’d done with the space and just as eager to see how affordable organic produce could really be. So I snapped up the opportunity to attend a media preview, and then went back two more times last week for good measure.
This is the third Organic Garage location that CEO and founder, Matt Lurie, has opened, but it’s the one he’s clearly most excited about. The grocery business runs deep in Lurie’s bloodlines—his great-grandfather ran a grocery store on College St. in the 1930s—but Lurie himself got his start working at an outdoor organic market and then opened his first Organic Garage store in Oakville. He later took over a failing store in Vaughan, where the second store is. But this flagship location in the Junction is the first store that he was able to design from scratch.
There’s a sweet little patio right next to the main doors and then you enter the store right into the produce section. I am immediately impressed by sale prices of fruits and vegetables that rival those of discount brands like No Frills and regular prices that are in line with what you’d find at conventional supermarkets—except here everything is certified organic.
Lurie leads us around the entire store, pointing out decorative touches like fun and inspirational text, old photos of his great-grandparents’ original store, and graffiti on an original concrete post. (But my kids are way more impressed with the hopscotch game taped to the floor near the bread section.)
Produce is where the biggest savings are, but the rest of the store does offer organic and natural dairy, meat, bulk foods, pantry items, cleaning supplies and more at competitive prices. Parents of babies take note: you’ll find Earth’s Best, Love Child and Baby Gourmet baby food, and Earth’s Best and Seventh Generation diapers at good prices too.
Organic Garage also has a digital helper named Rose who consists of 18 discrete touch screens embedded around the store where customers can find product information, recipe suggestions and sign up for the store’s weekly “Unflyer” which is delivered to your inbox rather than creating paper clutter. Guess where my eleven-year-old son was instantly drawn? “Mom, I just sent you a flax oil smoothie recipe!”
Other highlights include a salad bar, kombucha and cold brew coffee taps so you can buy refills in store, and an ingenious Teabot station that automatically dispenses custom blends of brewed loose leaf tea.
If your family is committed to eating as much organic and natural food as possible, then you will certainly want to visit this store. If, like me, you’re happy to buy organic when it fits the budget, then this is the perfect place to stock up on produce.