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Aisle 24 expands footprint in downtown Toronto

Fully automated, cashierless grocery chain is opening a new store at The Well this summer.
Aisle 24 interior shot supplied

Aisle 24 is going big in downtown Toronto.

The cashierless, 24/7 grocery and convenience chain is opening its latest location at The Well, a 3-million-sq.-ft. mixed-use development just south of the city’s bustling King West neighbourhood. The new store, which is slated to open this summer, will be one of Aisle 24’s largest, at 1,700 square feet.

“Our overall densification strategy in Toronto is making sure that we identify specific areas in the downtown core to be more convenient and beneficial for our membership base,” says John Douang, co-founder and CEO of Aisle 24. “When we were proposed The Well, we knew right away it was a great fit for Aisle 24. It’s a very large, notable development. It is completely mixed use—there are commercial, office and residential elements—which is exactly in line with our business model and what we’re hoping to achieve.”

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The new Aisle 24 location will be the company’s community format, which is typically around 1,200 to 1,500 square feet and is located in standard retail space that’s open to the public. Aisle 24 also has a resident format, which ranges from 300 to 700 square feet and is housed within condos or apartment buildings and is only accessible by residents.

“[At 1,700 square feet, The Well location] is a bit larger than what we typically go with,” says Douang. “What we noted is the density of the area—it’s right in the downtown core… and with the scale of The Well development, it made sense that we could go larger.”

The new store will feature a full range of grocery products and limited selection of produce, as well as better-for-you options.

“We’ve been very focused on better-for-you options, especially with snacking,” says Douang. “We work with local, Canadian entrepreneurs who have great brands and great products, and we give them an opportunity to bring them to market… In some of our stores, we also carry high-end items like Kobe and Wagyu steaks that are frozen that we source from a local butcher.”

The new store will also have an artistic flavour. “Because of the notoriety of the project and because it’s in downtown Toronto, we wanted to make additional efforts to incorporate some unique designs,” says Douang. “We’re now looking into commissioning a local artist to help us create an art piece specifically for this store. We’re also working with a local entrepreneur, who owns an NFT digital art gallery, and we will likely have some NFT digital art pieces on display with some unique customer engagement and interaction.”

There are currently 18 Aisle 24 stores (both corporate and franchises) open in Ontario and Quebec. In addition to the upcoming Toronto store, two stores are opening in Edmonton in the coming months, and the company is actively in the search for good spots in Vancouver, says Douang. "This summer as well, we will be opening a store in Halifax, and we have a franchisee in Labrador that we're working with on a very special project." 

This article originally appeared at Canadian Grocer.

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