The difference between local stores and large scale grocery stores is interesting, and comparing two stores is a good way to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each one. We have chosen to visit and compare the Real Canadian Superstore on Richmond Road and the Hintonburg Market on Wellington Street West. Here’s what we thought.
The market is small, featuring a good selection of fruit, vegetables, eggs and meats that are locally sourced.
The Superstore is a very big grocery store that also has a pharmacy, clothing, flower and gift sections. It has a wide variety of products. For example, a whole wall of different types of orange juice to choose from. It’s a one stop shop for everything that you may need on a daily basis, which is more favourable to the Hintonburg market where you can only get food. The market is small, featuring a good selection of fruit, vegetables, eggs and meats that are locally sourced. However, you would have to go to several separate stores to get all your needs instead. When compared to the Hintonburg market, the prices at the Superstore were relatively cheaper, by a few cents to up to two dollars for different items.
However, the Superstore wasn’t all positive. Before even entering, the huge parking lot outside feels quite uninviting; a large expanse of cars and pavement, that got very hot in the full sun. Also, while walking to the store, we walked along Richmond Road. The large store takes up an entire block of the street, stretching on and on and on! We got bored very quickly. In comparison, the Hintonburg market was directly on the street, and very small. It would be much more pleasant to walk by every day than the huge Superstore.
...the prices at the Superstore were relatively cheaper, by a few cents to up to two dollars for different items.
Once inside, we realised that there are several factors that make the Superstore problematic. The consumption of energy must be enormous, because the ceiling is so high, and they have to heat and cool all that extra space. It seemed like a waste to us. And then, we realised that getting your essential needs is difficult: you have to walk so far to get your basic foods that, on the way, you end up buying much more than you intended. It really encourages the North American overconsumption culture and attitude.
Small stores are one of the pillars of walkable neighbourhoods, they discourage the reliance on cars, support the local economy and have a smaller environmental impact.
On the other hand, the atmosphere at the market was very calm and welcoming, you could easily find whatever you’re looking for! This small store allows for a more walkable lifestyle as well: there aren’t many parking spaces, which forces customers to walk, compared to the Superstore, where there is a huge parking lot, encouraging the driving lifestyle.
Small stores are one of the pillars of walkable neighbourhoods, they discourage the reliance on cars, support the local economy and have a smaller environmental impact. However, large stores can be useful as buying local isn’t always feasible.
Our conclusion: the Superstore is important, as it is a one stop shop for all your needs, but it doesn’t have a place in walkable neighbourhoods. The Hintonburg Market encourages a healthy lifestyle and is more pleasant to shop at, but it can be more effort considering that you need several small stores instead of one big one to buy everything the Superstore offers. With this in mind, where would you choose to shop on a daily basis?
We asked high school students from an urbanism class to contribute to the conversation about walkable neighbourhoods in Ottawa. This blog was written by Yasmina Achkar, Eveline Guindon, Ella Gadoury, and Arlie Mulligan.