Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Save-On-Foods opens first Vancouver location

with 19 comments


This is in the Business section

The newest store lies in the heart of a Cambie corridor that’s experiencing a massive retail transformation, with new stores like Best Buy, Home Depot and Whole Foods open or about to open soon.

Store manager Bruce Brown said the 42,398-square-foot outlet will be a “full-size, full-scale, full-service” grocery store.

“It’s a true Save-On-Foods store, not a boutique store,” he said in an interview. “Our consumers can come here and do a primary shop — fill their baskets with whatever they need in their household.”

It is actually Cambie and 7th so it is some way north of the area that had really got everyone’s attention “Cambie Village” which is up in the teens. Now I do not pretend to know much about this area and what is happening there. But at first reading these stores do not seem to me to be the sort of places you pop into on your way home from the transit station. Home Depot and Save On in my experience are car oriented retailers – at least the ones I have used. And I would expect that they will be very attractive to the car owners within the 20 minute “isochrone” (drive time) that I used to draw on maps back when I did retail impact analyses many years ago in another city. Mind you, back then a store half this size was a “superstore”.

Fortunately we do have a number of regular commenters now, and I look forward to reading their reactions, but I must start out with my guess that this area will not be much like TOD as I know it

Brown said all the new residential developments nearby ensures a lot of people will walk to the store while it’s proximity to the Canada Line — with a station about two blocks away — will also attract more business.

“Also” – in other words people who walk in are a bonus – it’s the drivers they really want!

UPDATE April 1 2008

Save on Foods

The development has a number of retailers – including Home Depot – and housing on the top. Mixed use is a Good Thing – but is this too much of a Good Thing? I also blogged about this on the Metblog.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 29, 2008 at 10:48 am

19 Responses

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  1. I finally bussed to the Price Smart (aka Save On) down the street (roughly 9 blocks away) and, with the walk I have between destinations and bus stops, I can’t carry a whole lot. So I’m not going to be going to a Save On-style Wal-Mart for “every need” unless I’m going there by car… which is what we usually do!

    What I don’t understand in Langley is the lack of underground or roof-top parking. It makes the already unwalkable area even less walkable because you have to cross gigantic parking lots literally everywhere to get where you want to go. I’d have to bet that half of the commercial centre is parking lots and roads which would explain why it looks so grey. And I guess that’s why there are no large grocery chains in the downtown business core, that I know of!

    Erika Rathje

    March 29, 2008 at 1:41 pm

  2. Structured parking costs a lot more than surface – and underground a whole order of magnitude more

    Stephen Rees

    March 29, 2008 at 1:47 pm

  3. To be truthful, given that I live in Mount Pleasant and that we have a Buy Low (or “Buy High” as my friend Deb calls it), I find it hard to believe I’ll go to Save on Foods and detour from my usuall 99 B-Line from the office on my way home. That being said, I’ve been known to drop by the Broadway and Cambie area when I need certain staples (e.g. cheap Coke and Pepsi Cola at London Drugs and/or frozen burritos at Safeway). So I figure that I *might* drop by every so often.

    If it really is Cambie and 7th, I am betting they’re going for the Fairview Slopes, short-drive from home, lazy consumers. I concur with you Stephen, I’m guessing it is a motorist-oriented store. But I for one am grateful. The only other time I’ve been to a Save-On-Foods was the Brentwood Mall one.


    March 29, 2008 at 1:50 pm

  4. If the Best Buy and Canadian Tire at that location are any guide, they won’t have a vast amount of underground parking, compared to the regular big box style – and those stores do seem to be busy when I visit.

    Believe it or not, these stores are very handily located for cyclists – being next to the most cycle-friendly route over False Creek (Cambie Bridge) and the 7th avenue cycle route through fairview & kits. I travel that way quite a bit from downtown to home. You can get quite a bit of shopping done on a bike with panniers.

    Anyway, I am happy to see those stores there (as well as the “mini” Home Depot which Kits was denied by the nimbys…)

    Mark Allerton

    March 29, 2008 at 2:26 pm

  5. I’ve dropped off at the Best Buy once or twice to get something on the way home. I got off the 99 B-Line and walked down a few blocks to the store. With construction, it was a bit of a zig-zag walk. It should be better once construction is done.

    It’s nice to have some of these stores in town instead of driving down into Richmond or to Queensborough.


    March 29, 2008 at 2:32 pm

  6. Funny, I don’t see many people carrying grocery bags on the bus. These big box stores cater to multiple purchases (heavy multiple purchases) that a car is necessary to carry the items home. As, well, I don’t see many people willing to hop off RAV to do some quick shopping at this location, then hop back on. With RAV being underground, not many riders would know a Save-On Foods would be near by.

    Malcolm J.

    March 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm

  7. I carry grocery bags on the bus 🙂


    March 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm

  8. I do my grocery shopping by bus. If there is a sale on tinned soup I have to be careful. Once I can’t carry the shopping basket I’m finished shopping. London Drugs is moving to, a, no doubt larger, store nearer Cambie and Broadway. Whole Foods will open there soon as well. As much as I’d like to think the majority are going to arrive by bus, Canada Line (how I hate even typing that) or bike, I don’t believe it. We can only hope the City has done it’s traffic projections correctly. It sounds like a a ready-made traffic jam. Save-On always struck me as the sort of store the average family spent $300. ,or more a week, on groceries. Try taking that on the bus.


    March 29, 2008 at 7:39 pm

  9. I can fit about eight to ten bags of groceries in my bike trailer.


    March 29, 2008 at 9:38 pm

  10. When we lived in a highrise at Coquitlam Centre we often walked to Save On, or I would stop off on my way home from the transit loop. I seem to recall others doing the same thing. Since I passed by frequently, there was no need to buy great quantities of stuff. Now we’re near Brentwood, and while I usually drive it is actually a fairly pleasant walk (though longer and lacking in other destinations) so I try to do that when the weather is nice.


    March 29, 2008 at 9:49 pm

  11. The proximity of all of the urban big box stores in the Cambie from Broadway – 6th Ave. area is a good concentration of stores that will reduce driving / travelling to disparate areas of the city to buy large items, to cater to store preferences or to buy items on sale. i.e. Canadian Tire has a set of wrenches at 70% off – do you go to Burrard & Cornwall or do you combine your trips and do your grocery shopping too on Cambie?

    When complete, the north Cambie area will have:

    Canadian Tire and Best Buy (already open (no validated parking)).

    The Rise (Cambie to Yukon, 7th to 8th): Save-on-Foods (validated parking), Home Depot (replacement for the Arbutus location), Winners/Homesense (western Canada’s largest), maybe Mark’s Workwearhouse? plus rental lofts above. Project is by Grosvenor International. NOTE: this project was approved by the City before the retail spaces were leased. i.e. the decision whether or not to permit the project was not polarized by the identity of the tenants (as seen with other projects).

    Crossroads (NW corner Cambie & Broadway): Whole Foods, London Drugs, Royal Bank, restaurants, with office block and condos above (separate midrises) – there is a provision for a future underground passage to the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line Station, but this is unfunded (and would probably await redevelopment of the SW corner). Lululemon is leasing the entire office block.

    The SE corner of Cambie Broadway (the entire block adjacent to the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line Station) is owned by the City and will be the site of the City Hall expansion in the future.

    Ron C.

    March 30, 2008 at 7:30 pm

  12. The Safeway at City Square is always busy between 11pm and midnight with Fitness World members. Fitness World closes at 11 pm and Safeway closes at midnight, so that works well for combining trips.

    Ron C.

    March 30, 2008 at 7:32 pm

  13. I’ve done it on occasion (that is, stop at the Safeway at Broadway and Commercial on the way home while transfering from Broadway to Commericial), but certainly not for a “primary shop”… two bags is about the limit of grocery bags I like to schlep onto a crowded M line train during the PM peak.


    March 31, 2008 at 12:05 pm

  14. I’ll share with you all my wife’s biggest complaint about Vancouver. Not enough shopping close to home. In Hong Kong, she enjoyed going down to the shopping centres to get everything from groceries, electronics, dining out, medicine, clothing, etc. And she didn’t even need to go take a bus or train. And this a suburban area of Hong Kong, not the centre of town.

    Right now, the stores look like they are out of place, but we are expecting more and more people to move into the area. There will be some local shoppers eventually. In most of Asia, nobody loads up on their week’s worth of groceries. They go out every day or every second day to buy their goods. In fact, enough of the old time markets are left around the territory that most meat and veggies are actually fresher than the frozen and processed variety we get here.

    In Asia, most people don’t carry their groceries on the train or bus because they have easy access to these supermarkets by foot. I would love to see more of that here in town.

    But darn, I must admit it’s nice to throw all the groceries in the trunk and not think about grocery shopping for a week. Lazy Canadian by socialization. 😦


    March 31, 2008 at 2:51 pm

  15. I do not think we will ever emulate Hong Kong. The scale is quite different!

    Stephen Rees

    March 31, 2008 at 3:35 pm

  16. As a False Creek resident, the new Save-on Foods is a long-awaited God-send! For False Creek and Fairview residents, we lack a walkable grocery store that offers variety and fresh food – emphasis on fresh food. The 2 little grocers in the area are totally off the mark when it comes to freshness – and are only slightly better than what you would find in a third world country. I won’t be using my car – a small rolling cart, which most people have is all you need. Many of us “locals” are delighted to have these services that we can walk to. Finally the wait is over!!!

    Diane B

    April 1, 2008 at 12:00 pm

  17. […] I had plenty of time to get my camera out, wind down the window, and try for a shot of the first Save on Foods in the City. And no one was held up while I did it as we weren’t moving anyway. The single file traffic […]

  18. by next year all these big stores will be in the middle of two Canada line stations so the area should pick up

    whole foods will bring much traffic i imagine to the area – the west van store is always busy and well its whole foods – hard to beat the cult status they have among soccer moms and kits moms

    save on has good prices if you use the savings card – some things are a little pricier than the RCS but not too bad – hard to believe its the first store in vancouver


    April 6, 2008 at 2:27 pm

  19. As a 27-year resident of Mount Pleasant, False Creek and now Riley Park, it just keeps getting better. I can ride a bike to Save On in less than 10 minutes with bike / pedestrian priority signals on several cross srteets, but the Capers and Choices in the Cambie Village are closer.


    April 7, 2008 at 3:10 pm

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