Six months later, No Frills still closed

A man walks past the empty No Frills store at Coxwell and Gerrard. PHOTO: Lara O'Keefe

It’s been nearly six months since residents of the Coxwell-Gerrard area awoke to find themselves without a neighbourhood grocery store.

The abrupt closure of Rocca’s No Frills in May left the community without answers and, more importantly, without easy access to healthy and reasonably priced food options.

Kevin Groh, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communication with Loblaw Companies Limited – the parent company of No Frills – said following the closure that “Rocca’s No Frills has served the community for decades and plans to serve it for decades more. To do that, significant building improvements and renovations are required.”

The company stated it would be “making significant improvements to the building,” and yet months later the building remains empty and barren, stripped of its logo without any signs of improvements or return.

Residents in turn have been left wondering when or if they’ll be graced with the presence of a nearby grocery store again.

Standing outside the empty store with his wife and young child on November 10, Dustin Williams, a resident of the Coxwell and Gerrard area said that the closure of Rocca’s No Frills is, “a bit of a bummer…it’s the only one in the entire area. Other than that you’re going up to Pape and O’Connor.”

In a statement last week, Loblaw’s Groh said the company is still in the permit process of the renovation plan.

“Starting early next year, we will begin demolition to parts of the store to create a new store that will provide a better shopping experience for our customers.”

He said that the company plans to reopen as Rocca’s No Frills but “at this time we cannot confirm the timeline as we are still in the process of receiving required permits from the city.”

This statement was echoed by the tenants of the hair salon next door who indicated that, despite rumours to the contrary, they are not concerned about the building being torn down and had been told by the owners that the store was simply in the process of getting approval for renovations.

The company has been offering a shuttle that runs every 15 minutes from the parking lot of Rocca’s No Frills to Dave & Charlotte’s No Frills at 449 Carlaw Avenue since the closure.

But even when Rocca’s was open, the Coxwell and Gerrard area was defined as a “food desert”.

That means “people have to travel farther for fresh food, they may not have healthy options nearby, they may be unable to comparison shop when purchasing food,” said Sarah Soteroff, speaking on behalf of Richard Florida’s research team at the Martin Prosperity Institute, part of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. The team wrote a report on the subject.

According to the report, “in Toronto, food deserts have become a prominent feature of the city’s ‘inner suburbs’ and priority neighbourhoods.”

This is due to the fact that many of these neighbourhoods were originally designed for residents who used vehicles, which meant there wasn’t a need to build commercial developments such as grocery stores within walking distance.

But with the rapid expansion of the city, and burgeoning communities like the Coxwell-Gerrard area, it has become essential for the city to build and retain easily accessible commercial developments, recommends the report.

A healthy community is a happy one, and leaving residents with access to only fast food restaurants or unaffordable smaller markets is not an ideal situation, especially for an aging population who may struggle with mobility issues, as well as those without vehicles.

Speaking about the effect on the neighbourhood, Coxwell-Gerrard resident Williams said a large portion “of this community is young [adults] with kids, and they can’t afford vehicles with the prices of things as it is now. It’s a struggle. So for just one grocery store in the community it’s ridiculous for people. They’re putting off a lot of their day just to go grocery shopping at this point.”

The Rotman report further emphasizes the need for healthy and accessible food, not just for the convenience of the community, but for the health and prosperity of the local economies as a whole with the research team noting that “there are health [and] diet implications in addition to the issues of the affordability of fresh food.”

With the winter weather fast approaching, No Frills remains in the early stages of renovations leaving Coxwell-Gerrard residents to face the stark reality that some will have to spend the cold months ahead traveling for healthy food options using the TTC or shuttle bus, with Groh reinstating, “the shuttle bus to Dave & Charlotte’s No Frills at 449 Carlaw Avenue will continue.”

How have you been impacted by the closure? Leave a comment or send a note to lara@beachmetro.com.


Did you enjoy this article? If so, you may consider becoming a Voluntary Subscriber to the Beach Metro Community News and help us continue providing the community with more local content such as this. For over 40 years, our staff have worked hard to be the eyes and ears in your community, inform you of upcoming events, and let you know what and who’s making a difference. We cover the big stories as well as the little things that often matter the most. CLICK HERE to support Beach Metro News.

8 comments

Why would the no-frills close it’s doors for renovations before it has the permit’s in their hands. I would think that the franchisee has lost a considerable amount of money. In a business point of view this world have been a no-brainer, I just hope that the owner gets a new store manager, the lady was once told that her credit card transaction machine at the cash register was not working, she insisted that it was my card and insinuated that it was a stolen card, I use it the following day for a Home Depot purchase and it worked fine. I contact the credit card company and they say that the machine was definitely out of order because if the card was scanned it whether showing on this system whether it was used or not. When a customer tells the store manager that there is a problem, then they should believe the customer instead of making false innuendos. I will also say that the store was the dump and needed to be brought up to standards and when it opened I hope it is minus the lady store manager who doesn’t know diddly squat.

No matter what happens here, it is fishy beyond words and I will not come here again unless absolutely necessary…… no frills has completely mishandled this situation and heads should roll!!!

I agree, it is almost 3 years and nothing has been done and No Frills or Loblaws have given no news regarding the store opening. I think, they will not re-open this store because they want us to shop at the more expensive Loblaws store. Our area has a high number of low income people living here and I guess Loblaws does not care. They want us to take either a bus to Carlaw and Gerrard and go shopping in that No Frills or go to Loblaws. Loblaws company should be ashamed that this area is underpresented by affordable food stores. I guess profits are more important than servicing a community who needs affordable foods because of the demographics. After almost 3 years they couldn’t accomplish the renovation, come on it is not the Sky Dome, for god’s sake. Why is the headquarter of either Loblaw or No Frills sending out update reports to the people in the Coxwell/Gerrard area? Is it because by delaying the whole process, they close down this store and we people in this area will be deprived of affordable food. So, our area has to pay for your profit margin. I am angry and really upset at Loblaws headquarters not telling us the real story what is going on.

This closure has been very difficult on my mother, who is a senior with mobility issues. Visiting this store for her served the dual purpose of fresh food at a reasonable price, and a short pleasant walk with her buggy for exercise. So I have been monitoring the status of this store. If you look at the City of Toronto website for permit applications (http://app.toronto.ca/ApplicationStatus/setup.do?action=init) and punch in 269 Coxwell, you will see that some permits are in the process of being approved. They do not mention that it is for No Frills though, but they may be (hopefully). They note that the two exterior walls will be demolished and rebuilt, along with interior alterations. I take this as a hopeful sign for all the neighbourhood that something is in process. I wonder why it has taken so long to obtain permits though. A company the size of Loblaws should be able to navigate this process quicker than most I would think. Thank you to BeachMetro for the update.

when is no frills reopening? the shuttle bus is a hassle and many elders in the area are going without fresh fruits and veg.
Loblaws needs to provide updates!

I heard that the floor fell through around the bread . so it’s understandable to close fast. The workers was not told, as they went to work to find locked doors. We really need this opened soon. I have been bugging them about a date with no one saying when. It’s nice that the bus takes us to the other one, but someone like me in a scooter can’t go. We can’t take anything that we can’t carry on the bus. The bus is such a let down for some elders with walkers also. Wish this would open soon.

That was 8 months ago and yet, no permits have been issued by the city to renovate. There is something else going on here than we are to believe. I am 69 years old, have no car and I have not have a lot of fresh fruit or vegetables for a long time. My doctor gives me lecures in regards of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables but I guess, she does not realize that we have difficulties and a length of commute to get to stores where we get these kind of goods. Without having a car, I would have to take the Queen St. East Streetcar going to Leslie St. and walking north to either the most expensive food store, like Loblaws at Eastern Ave. or further south to FreshCo. and lugging your groceries back to the Queen St. E. streetcar stop and hefting it up on the streetcar back to the Kent Rd./Woodward stop and walking home. You know, how difficult it is to lift your bags of groceries onto the old streetcars without having a “gold-medal in gymnastics”? I asked NoFrills about their situation and they still have not answered me when the store on Coxwell and Gerrard will open. It seems, they still have not received the permits to renorate the store from the city as they told me in an e-mail 2 weeks ago. I wonder, how truthful they truly are or do they are in an “alternative facts” reality especially to us customers in this area. Will they ever reopen this store? Having lived in Germany, I have never experienced this kind of exclusionary support system of accessible fresh fruits and…

I hope they improve Customer Service when and if they open again, it had the worst customer service ever so rude all the time and never had anything. I wouldn’t count on a new No Frills I would bet that they plan on building one of those fancy more expensive stores like the one at Leslie and Lakeshore they are out for money and. Terrible to lie to customers like that. Maybe we should get a group of people together and protest against Loblaws.

Click here for our commenting guidelines.

Leave a Reply

*