Downtown Bureau

Full Service Supermarket Opening In Jackson Square

A new 55,000 square foot full service supermarket is opening in Jackson Square in the spring of 2013.

By Adrian Duyzer
Published August 17, 2012

A new supermarket is opening in in Jackson Square in the spring of 2013, according to a press release issued August 16.

The 55,000 square foot store will be a full service supermarket, operating under the Nations Fresh Food banner, which is owned by the Ocean's Fresh Food Group.

The news comes on the heels of controversy over Council's unwillingness to incentivize a grocery store to come downtown. Downtown residents have also been planning a co-op grocery store called The Mustard Seed. It's unclear at this point whether Ocean's Fresh Food Group received any incentives for building a store in Jackson Square, an investment of more than $7 million.

The full text of the press release follows.

Jackson Square is pleased to announce the arrival of a full service supermarket in downtown Hamilton Nations Fresh Food will be opening a major new supermarket in Jackson Square Mall in the Spring of 2013. The store will be located at the West end of the mall, near the intersection of Bay and Market Streets. Nations will open a full service supermarket, providing an excellent multi-ethnic fresh food shopping experience.

This 55,000 square feet supermarket, owned by the Ocean's Fresh Food Group, will be the largest in the chain and the second to operate under the Nations banner. The store will feature foods of the world under one roof, a large fresh fish market, meat and deli counters, extensive fruit and vegetable markets, a large salad bar, in-store bakery and international prepared foods for eat-in and take-out.

This new full service supermarket represents a key missing piece in the puzzle of downtown renewal. Nations Fresh Food will provide a necessary service in the heart of the City, and will promote further residential development in and around the core.

"This announcement justifies the new confidence being expressed about the vibrant future of the Downtown core. Since its opening 40 years ago Jackson Square has been an outstanding corporate citizen of Hamilton, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and maintaining its buildings to the highest standards. It’s fitting that the City’s anchor downtown property was chosen by Nations to host their newest store. My sincere congratulations as Mayor to both landlord and tenant for their exciting new contribution to the growth of our City." - Mayor Bob Bratina.

Everyday low prices, combined with a wide product selection will make Nations a destination for all grocery shoppers. People living in downtown Hamilton will now be able to easily walk or take transit for all of their grocery shopping. Also, downtown office workers will be able to pick-up either a quick take-out dinner or do their weekly grocery shopping before heading home.

The Hamilton Farmers Market will directly benefit from having a full service supermarket in close proximity. This symbiotic relationship will allow shoppers a “one-stop” grocery experience, combining buying weekly staples with buying wonderful fresh, local foods from the regions best farmers market. This combination will create a new destination for fresh food in the heart of City.

Jackson Square will be investing significant capital improvements to prepare for the arrival of Nations, including new elevators which will allow easy access from the mall to our ample, convenient underground parking. Combined with the fact that Nations will be building an entirely new store, the total new investment in Hamilton will be in excess of seven million dollars ($7,000,000.00). Once open, Nations will employ in excess of 200 people.

Now in its 40th year, Jackson Square has always been the heart and soul of downtown Hamilton. A new energy has come to the mall, with expansions and new stores over the last year. The mall vacancy is now under 10%, and discussions are currently underway with a number of new retailers.

We are certain that securing the lease with Nations Fresh Food will act as a catalyst for downtown renewal and redevelopment. As a long standing corporate partner, Jackson Square is proud to make this important contribution to the renewal of downtown Hamilton.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz


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By Very Pleased (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 08:27:19

This is great news! The addition of a grocery store in downtown Hamilton will be well received by many downtown residents, as well as promote more people to live downtown. Can't wait for this grocery store to open. As a downtown resident, I will now be able to do all my grocery shopping without having to get in my car to go to Fortino's at Dundurn and King West. Trying to get in and out of that parking lot is always a nightmare. Won't miss parking at Fortino's!

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 08:46:52

Yay! And we didn't have to use taxpayer money to get one downtown after all. The invisible hand works (or something)!

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By James (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 08:55:04

Finally, downtown residents will be able to easily purchase things that come in cans!

When I lived downtown it was a huge undertaking to get non-fresh food - if I wanted milk, or canned soup, or a bag of rice I had to go all the way to Fortino's on Dundurn or No Frills on Tisdale. I think this is fantastic, although I am a little worried about the impact it will have on the farmer's market.

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By hshields (registered) - website | Posted August 17, 2012 at 11:08:49 in reply to Comment 79882

That was my initial reaction was to think about the Farmers' Market. I don't think this will be a mortal impact to the Market. The supermarket will offer products that the farmer's market doesn't provide; the hours will be different too. People still love the atmosphere of the farmers' market and the move to more service (like coffee bars and cooking classes and prepared meals) does more to further differentiate from a supermarket without milk and canned goods.

I think the farmers' market will do just fine. Will a supermarket, without parking and paying shopping mall rent, be able to make a go of it? We will soon see.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:25:49 in reply to Comment 79882

I've been trying to find out, but no luck yet - does Nations sell 'staples'? Milk, cereal, canned goods etc.... all the online reviews basically make it sound like a T&T on steroids. Which is great, don't get me wrong, but we really need something downtown with those basic staples.
I'm assuming it does....55,000 sq feet is a lot of space. Still, any confirmation would be great.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:23:59 in reply to Comment 79882

James the Farmer's Market can compete just fine with a grocery store I am sure. I live very close to a big Fortino's yet still come all the way downtown to the FM regularly.

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By Nords (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 08:55:09

This is great news. As a "downtown office worker" I can't wait to frequent this place. I hope wherever it goes in the J-Square that they have proper exterior access to the store too and that it's not too 'internal'. This might be a great opportunity to increase street presence somewhere. I hope it has normal grocery store hours too (at least until 8 or 9pm anyway). Also, I hope they'll let people park for free underground (at least with say a minimum $20 purchase or something) because otherwise those residents downtown that do have a car and want to do a larger grocey shop or live in say Durand, might still choose to drive to Fortino's on Dundurn, the Food Basics on Barton or the No Frills on Main East.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:26:46 in reply to Comment 79883

My JS sources tell me there will be a 'big, bold' entry constructed on Bay Street to this store. Definite street presence.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 09:33:39 in reply to Comment 79883

Well, if they're putting it where the farmer's market was during the rennovation, it won't have any street presence because it's primarily an interior area.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:11:04 in reply to Comment 79892

Iirc there was a small and awkward street entrance for that... one that involved a short flight of stairs, sadly, which isn't appropriate for a grocery store.

A proper street entrance really will be essential to getting this thing off the ground since so much of the Jackson Square closes well before normal grocery-store closing time. Hopefully a more aggressive renovation of that entrance will happen.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-08-17 10:11:33

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 09:04:52

Im very glad to hear this .. finaly a fish counter ... hope they have shel fish like lobster crabs clames osters and more ... they will make a killing with me :)

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By Unionidae (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 09:20:06 in reply to Comment 79886

Until 2013 (and hopefully thereafter), you'll find fresh fish and seafood elsewhere downtown...

Hamilton Farmers' Market (Tue/Thu-Sat):
Agro Fish Market
Trang Fish

James North & Robert (Mon-Sat):
Atlantic Fish Market (282 James N.)
International Fish Market (205 James N.)
Lighthouse Fish Market (219 James N.)

Downtown (daily):
B&T Market (103 Queen N.)
Tan Thanh Market (115 Park N.)

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:28:37 in reply to Comment 79889

And it appears as though T&T is building a new, large store on Cannon next to the old crummy one. An ethnic supermarket war is upon us!

The B&T Food Centre on Queen is at the end of my block and man, it's packed everyday. There are lineups waiting to get in each morning.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:11:16 in reply to Comment 79889

Thanks alot for the info .... i wish thezses stores whould be scaterd around the city ... there all within a few blocks from eachother

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By janr34 (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 09:10:10

Great news for downtown! I also hope they have regular grocery store hours, as opposed to mall hours. When I told my 17 year old daughter about it, her first response was, 'Wow, that's great! Wonder why there isn't one now?' and her second thought on it was, "Oh,and that'll make that end of Jackson (seems all the kids call it jackson now, rather than jackson square, but whatevs)a lot less creepy".

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 09:29:45

This is a great development.

One little critcism though: Vacancy rate is now under 10%? Well, I guess that's easier to achieve when you blow out former store space and replace it with more seating for your food court...

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted August 20, 2012 at 07:07:15 in reply to Comment 79890

And what stores were removed? Do you miss them? Have you seen how busy the food court gets on a weekday at lunch, or on the weekends?

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:25:06 in reply to Comment 79890

But that's a better business decision for the mall.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 17, 2012 at 09:53:31

Now it's time for the LCBO to stop catering to winos and start carrying some real products.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted August 20, 2012 at 22:35:12 in reply to Comment 79893

Well the management of Jackson Square are looking for a complementary use to occupy 7000 square feet next to the store. They should pitch this to the LCBO. Having a large supermarket next door might change the business case.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted August 19, 2012 at 17:35:13 in reply to Comment 79893

Here here on that one, I sincerely hope the LCBO either gets a larger storefront or gets out of Jackson square and opens their own big-box retail location in the core. I'm to understand Vranich is pursuing them for his commercial property. The selection at the Jackson LCBO is awful. The only even remotely craft beer related offering they have their is the Mill St seasonal mix pack. That's it, no other OCB brews or decent brews. The rest is big name brand beer or terrible discount beer like Old English or Labatt Ice.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2012-08-19 17:36:26

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By Snooker (anonymous) | Posted August 18, 2012 at 11:38:31 in reply to Comment 79893

I think that what is essentially a grab-and-go concept is a rational response to a neighbourhood that quadruples its population (and probably octuples its disposable income) from 8am-6pm, but the location of the storefront is problematic in that it's essentially a storefront at King & James. Workers in the CIBC towers may duck across to shop on lunch or before leaving work, but by and large the clientele seems to be the Jackson Square regular.

FWIW, the downtown LCBO wasn't significantly better when it was located a kilometer west (York and Caroline, a couple doors down from the Barn -- back in the days when James North was able to support a Beer Store). At least now there are displays of Vintages-grade wine and spirits on either side of the entranceway. If they were truly focused on the "winos", there would be watering troughs filled with iced sixes of Yankee Jim and 40s of Maximum Ice by the cash. (As it is, those wares are at the very back of the store.)

But I the extent to which any retailer downtown can harness the consumer dollars of moneyed consumers will vary. Why, for example, are there almost no quality menswear stores located within 1km of King and James? (Remembering that Coppley's York Boulevard facility is not a retail location.) I think you could make the case for the LCBO being more of a barometer for the local consumer demographic than a pillar of urban economic development strategy.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:25:54 in reply to Comment 79893

Hear hear, I'd like to see a better selection there, but you have to cater to what people are buying.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:09:34

So a supermarket taking over the temporary Farmer's Market location? Neat! I hope they can get some kind of exterior entrance and can get some good signage going.

They should look into buying one of the nearby surface-parking properties and convert it into their own private lot with a shopping-friendly pricing structure (or free for customers with a grocery receipt). I know RTH hates the "private free parking lot" thing, but this is a supermarket - a lot of customers are going to be driving in simply because a load of groceries sucks to carry otherwise (yes, I'm speaking from experience here, even a Chariot trailer and panniers ain't fun). Alternately, this is a place where the City could help in lieu of their half-million forgivable loan.

This is something people are going to be driving to, and Hamilton's private and public lots have a terrible pricing-structure for shoppers and are prettymuch aimed at commuters. At many of them an hour-and-a-half shopping trip will cost the same as a full-day stay.

Still, this is very exciting for downtown and I wish them all the best.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:25:56

Great news for the dt. Now if we can just convert King and Main to two way...

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By RB (registered) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 13:26:41

Private. Investment. Awesome.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted August 18, 2012 at 00:28:18

Quite possibly this will increase foot traffic - and hence demand for other shops - in the rest of Jackson Square.

And I too think it complements the market, not competes.

Wouldn't it be great if more commercial use could be made of the Hamilton Centre too? Perhaps not shopping, but business?

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By Qualm (anonymous) | Posted August 29, 2012 at 18:00:46 in reply to Comment 79916

"Quite possibly this will increase foot traffic - and hence demand for other shops - in the rest of Jackson Square."

Kind of like what Hart did in Fall 2006 in the City Centre when it opened a 40,000 sq ft store that was a potpourri of retail.

"Wouldn't it be great if more commercial use could be made of the Hamilton Centre too? Perhaps not shopping, but business?"

Yes, shopping has not taken particularly well.

Business is supposed to be forthcoming

"Hamilton City Centre has been sold. The 450,000-square-foot building that houses city offices, commercial space and retailers was purchased for $25 million by a Barrie-area developer through a numbered company. The developer has told city staff he wants to fill the centre, focusing on high-tech and creative industries."

Jackson Square: Solved.

City Centre: Solved.

Now about that zombie hotel....

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted August 18, 2012 at 05:06:54

chicken and egg. if they had a decent selection people would shop there. i drive to dundurn for beer and i live 3 blocks from king and james because their selection is such shit.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted August 19, 2012 at 17:32:13

I'm sure it will compliment the Farmers market, mainly because the farmers market tends to be worlds cheaper then other commercial stores. I would say to these people, don't make a large produce department, really focus on your fresh meat, dairy and grocery, because people will walk an extra couple feet to the farmers market.

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By LOL (registered) | Posted August 19, 2012 at 20:46:49 in reply to Comment 79932

You really need to get out more. The Farmers Market is not worlds cheaper than grocery stores. In fact a lot of the time grocery stores are cheaper than the market. The vast majority of sellers in the market are resellers like every other store in the city. When one of the major grocery stores has a really good sale on something like carrots you will see some of the stall owners taking carrots out of a plastic bag from the store and repackaging them and selling them at a much higher price. A tiny minority are farmers selling their own goods. We used to do a lot of canning and freezing of fruits and veggies in season and we learned the truth about pricing very quickly. There are more real farmers at the Ottawa ST. Market than the downtown market.

If you really spend a little time and compare prices you will find that shopping at the downtown market is an expensive option.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted August 22, 2012 at 10:46:10 in reply to Comment 79938

Agreed on Ottawa Street FM

The Ottawa Street Market kicks DT Farmers Market in the butt for locally grown produce grown likely grown by the person you are buying it from.

If the application form isn't enough to convince you they are really farmers, then buying it from the migrant Mexican farm worker who's helping at the stall has to convince.

After my dismay in the renovation, I can't even recall the last time I went to the DT market

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted August 19, 2012 at 19:31:23

This video of the 52,000 sq. ft. Oceans Fresh supermarket in Mississauga provides a general glimpse of the approximate size, store layout and products to be offered at the 55,000 sq. ft. Nations Fresh supermarket coming to Jackson Square:

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-08-19 20:03:23

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted August 20, 2012 at 20:16:40

My Vietnamese isn't very good but that clip is interesting just the same.


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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted August 23, 2012 at 07:59:28

More good news for downtown Hamilton and Jackson Square in particular. Here is the link to an article titled "Buffalo's Anchor Bar wings it to downtown Hamilton " by Paul Wilson on the cbc hamilton website today:

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-08-23 08:00:29

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By Starship Axiom (anonymous) | Posted August 23, 2012 at 12:16:34 in reply to Comment 80016

Awesome! Wings, burritos, poutine, burgers, grilled cheese, schnitzel and cupcake trucks, a new A&W, shwarma and pizza galore... get that Hooters happening and downtown will have really defined itself as a food mecca of sorts...

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted August 27, 2012 at 10:21:13

I had a chance to stop in at the Oceans Fresh in Mississauga over the weekend- photos at the link.

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