Leaside will have no excuse for eating unhealthy

An artist's rendering of the Leaside location of Organic Garage
An artist’s rendering of the Leaside location of Organic Garage

Leasiders were greeted in early February with news another grocery store would soon open in the area, bringing the total count to 10, including the much anticipated Whole Foods store opening at the northwest corner of Broadway and Bayview Aves.

The latest entry is Organic Garage, an Etobicoke-based company with two existing stores in Thornhill and Oakville, with a third scheduled to open in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood sometime in March or shortly thereafter.

The Leaside store, which should open in early 2018, will be the company’s fourth store, part of a four-year growth plan that will see it operating 11 locations in the GTA by the end of 2019, generating $60 million in annual revenue.

Organic Garage was established in 2005 by founder and CEO Matt Lurie, but Lurie’s family have had their hands in the grocery business since 1931 when Lurie’s grandfather and two of his brothers opened a store on College St. with the slogan “We sell for less.” Wanting to keep a good thing going, Organic Garage’s slogan is “Healthy Food for Less!”

The company’s stores average 10,000-12,000 sq. ft. offering as many as 14,000 healthy, natural and organic items (SKUs in industry lingo) that are 18-24% cheaper than Whole Foods and 8-15% less expensive than the major grocery stores in the area.

Leasiders interested in taking a drive some weekend might want to visit one of OG’s existing locations to sample its wares so you’re familiar with Organic Garage’s concept of healthy eating before the Leaside store opening; I know I will.

Organic Garage’s business model is certainly a profitable one.

Its two stores generate average revenue of $900 per square foot, 71% higher than Sobey’s or Metro from locations that are one-third the size. Its Oakville store earned $1.2 million in 2015 on $10.2 million in revenue – a very good return in an industry known for low profit margins.

Organic Garage’s annual information form states that it looks for “B” style real estate close to “A” style real estate – which is exactly the case with its Leaside location, a hop, skip and a jump from Leaside Village where Longo’s is located. Approximately 12,000 sq. ft. in size, its store will be part of the almost 80,000 sq. ft. redevelopment of 33 Laird Dr. by Quaestus Corp., a developer of retail properties in Ottawa and the GTA.

Organic Garage is a public company trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange since October 2016 under the symbol “OG”. While its stores are themselves profitable, the overall business is not, owing to costs associated with opening new stores and growing its business.

As someone who writes about investments for a living I’d be more inclined at this point to give Organic Garage (the store) a try rather than Organic Garage (the stock), but that might change once it’s making money from the economies of scale generated by operating a number of stores in the GTA.

Welcome to the neighbourhood, Organic Garage.

Between you and Whole Foods you’re making it really tough for Leasiders to eat unhealthy.


About Will Ashworth 51 Articles
Will Ashworth contributes to Leaside Life.