The one major supermarket along the Wellington corridor in Verdun is an IGA. US-based IGA operates many international locations--almost 5,000 stores worldwide--but in this area of Canada, they are run through Sobeys, a major supermarket chain. Sobeys then franchises the individual locations to independent operators. I guess it works or they wouldn't be doing it, but doesn't that seem like a convoluted way to run independent stores? What's wrong with a plain old cooperative? I'm surprised IGA even lets Sobeys run the stores under their corporate supervision. In the US, the IGA subgroups (such as Retail Marketing Group) are not separately supermarket chains.
The IGA's corporate-looking, kind of cheesy facade doesn't quite match the rest of the neighborhood.
As you can see with this poster in the window, this IGA is run by the Champagne group. Like many urban supermarkets in this area, the store offers free delivery and I saw the Champagne IGA van driving around the neighborhood several times. There is also a private parking lot in the back, but only one entrance!
At least the store's exterior is clean and well-maintained. You enter on the right to produce along the right-side wall, deli/bakery in an island in the first aisle, meat/dairy along the back wall, and frozen foods in the last aisle to the left.
Let's head in and check out the interior...
Now hang on to your hats, folks, and take in that beautiful decor. I don't know which is more exciting, the blank white walls, the white vinyl floors, or the beige ceiling.
The decor (or lack thereof) notwithstanding, the store actually was great. It had an excellent selection of produce, including a large organic section (here, biologique), fresh breads, and all the grocery staples for pretty reasonable prices.
Wine lines the front half of the produce aisle, with deli/bakery behind me here.
Nice bakery selections for a small store. It looks like they do bake in-store. And some color (barely) on the floor!
This area (behind the bread) is a prep space, with cheese lining the right side case, prepared foods facing the back wall, and a small deli facing into the first grocery aisle. Quite obviously, delis are not the priority in Montreal supermarkets that they are here!
Overview of produce. The cases are actually very high, so it's hard to see over them.
Even that one column of exposed brick is painted white. Come on!
Unlike most US supermarkets, it appears that managers' offices are actually in the rear of the store on the second floor, rather than the front. Cheese/deli runs along this island to the left. Great cheese selection, too.
Unfortunately, this deli is not so impressive, more of an afterthought, it looks like. The meat department is behind me here, along the back wall. That last case at the end is a tiny hot food counter.
A look along the exciting back aisle. These refrigerator cases are quite old, and although they were well-stocked, they were not particularly cold. Interesting.
And of course, bagged milk is a staple. Not something we're used to seeing!
The grocery aisles are pretty much the same as any other supermarket anywhere else. Some familiar brands, like Kashi here, and some we never see back in the US. In fact, this store does not sell the famous IGA storebrand, but instead Sobeys' Compliments brand.
In the last aisle, looking towards the back corner. Two things that this store does have that are really nice are the high ceilings and plenty of windows.
In the last aisle, we get a glimpse of what the store used to look like...
Well, we know there used to be a smaller gray tile floor. But we also know now that there's a concrete subfloor. So why not just scrape it all up and leave a concrete floor? Anyway, additional wine and beer fill up this corner of the front-end, possibly in front of more managers' offices. The checkouts are past wine and beer...
Past the first checkout is a desk, either courtesy or security (or both). No one was at it anyway, any of the times I went into this store.
Although many Montreal residents speak limited English, the cashiers and customer service employees here at IGA were all (in my experience) fluent in both English and French. And they were all very friendly. That's the key--as much as I can make fun of the store's decor, fixtures, or anything else, it was a great store because it had a good selection of products, the prices were reasonable, the people were friendly, and it was clean. Believe me, I've been in some strange supermarkets, but mostly, I just came out of this store scratching my head over more than a few things!
4500 Rue Wellington, Verdun, Montreal, QC
Open Daily 8AM-10PM http://www.iga.net
+1 514-766-7540 (Canada number)