The Recruitment of a Downtown Grocery Store



In 2013 two grocery stores in downtown Winnipeg closed indefinitely. This greatly affected the area residents, making it more difficult for them to access healthy, affordable foods. Downtown residents have since had to settle for less healthy, more expensive options, or travel a farther distance for their grocery shopping. The downtown biz played a lead role in addressing the impact of these closures, and brought stakeholders together to complete a market feasibility assessment for a downtown grocery store. In response to local residents, biz members, and the business community, and in collaboration with Manitoba Hydro and CentreVenture, the biz created downtown’s first farmers’ market. While the downtown farmers’ market has been a success there is still a need for a full service grocery store for downtown residents.


  • Provide healthy, fresh food options without having to travel far distances
  • If the grocery store is a larger chain they are likely able to offer more affordable healthy choices


  • Could be difficult for a grocery store to make a profit while the downtown population is still growing


  • Could threaten smaller mom and pop shops in the downtown area
  • Development of a grocery chain could prove difficult because a large area for a surface parking lot might not be realistic, but might be expected by many customers


  • Will provide additional jobs for people living downtown
  • Could increase the downtown population, can be used as a selling feature for potential new residents
  • Could improve the overall health of many at-risk downtown residents, like our Aboriginal population, new comers, and low-income families.

Option 1 – Extend farmers’ market hours

  • To date the farmers’ market has been successful and people have been attending en masse
  • Only occurs once weekly in the summer and once monthly in the winter
  • Extend hours (for example: twice a week in the summer and once every 6 weeks in the winter) to determine the level of need for grocery products

Option 2 – Provide financial incentives for potential grocers

  • Develop tax breaks for chains looking to open a downtown grocery store
  • Sell land for a reduced cost with the understanding that it be developed as a grocery store and remain a grocery store
  • Provide support for the downtown grocery store in the initial years until it begins making a profit