Uncommon Grocer, Rest in Peace

Our only Big News from Lida, who was staying in our house while we were away south, was that the Uncommon Grocer had closed. We’d included it on a list we made for Lida of places to buy good food.

For the uninitiated, the Uncommon Grocer was a small grocery store, initially located on University Avenue in the middle of the stripdrech, and recently moved downtown about a block from us.

The store was perhaps best known for its defiance of the “can ban,” selling fruit spritzers in cans, and the subsquent charges and court case surrounding this (they lost).

The Uncommon Grocer was a weird mix of some of the same “health food” you’d find at places like the Root Cellar, along with some “gourmet” items, some very good soup and sandwiches at the lunch hour, and a scatterling of books and baskets and kitchen items. It was run by a very nice woman named Barb, who obviously put most of her heart and soul into starting the place and keeping it going.

From the outside looking in, it always seemed as though the store never quite hit its mark. It didn’t know whether it was a health food store, a gourmet foods store, a deli, or a kitchen supply store. It was some of all of those, but not a a compelling enough stand out at one in particular to allow people to hang their hat on the concept.

That said, I’m very sad to see it go. It was a breath of fresh air on the downtown food shopping scape, and with some time to mature it could have grown into something even better. I talked to someone over the weekend who was there when the end came, and it sounds horrible: the owner and staff were given 5 minutes to vacate the premises before it was closed and locked up.

Let’s hope that the market that it was managing to grab little parts of doesn’t disperse entirely; for we “downtown livers,” a good food store is important to the health of the neighbourhood. And best wishes to Barb in her future endeavours; it was great while it lasted.


Alan's picture
Alan on September 17, 2002 - 14:36 Permalink

Double sad given the shift of the Root Celler from a natural food kind of place to a naturopathic kind of place. Removing tea and beer supplies removed me from shopping there. Unfortunately for the Uncommon Grocer, much of what was offered in food was appearing at the Superstore for less. There is certainly a gap in the dietary market now for those who fondly remember Cheech and Chong movies.