The Barrenness of Choices

The half-block of Commercial Drive running north from Napier used to be a bright  busy space with Drive Organics, a hairdresser and a tattooist as I recall.  Today, that entire half-block has been taken over by Choices grocery and they have turned it into a desert.

Part of the true joy of Commercial Drive is the narrow storefronts, each one different from the next, and each one contributing its share of colour and life and vibrancy to the street and the neighbourhood. Choices defies all those good aspects of urban life, with a very long store, with opaque windows (so even the activity inside is hidden), and a featureless exterior. There are no eyes on the street, there is no activity, there is no fun here, it is a bleak wilderness.

And it is so easy to deal with: it is a produce store, for goodness sakes, and so perfect for street-side carts and tables filled with colourful fruits and vegetables and anything else they want to sell, You just have to look at Normans or Triple A or Donald’s to see how it is done.  It is not rocket science, but I get the feeling that Choices doesn’t really care: it is a business divorced from its community.  That may be why I never shop there.


8 Responses to The Barrenness of Choices

  1. Jo says:

    It is indeed unappealing and offputting. I never even think to go inside. I enjoy a little comparison shopping between Normans, Triple A & Persia. Topped off with a well-earned coffee at the Continental.

  2. pennystreet546 says:

    I agree, Jak. Santa Barbara is another example of splendid colour and lively street-interest.
    Also, Choices’ prices are way higher than anywhere else on the Drive. The Food Co-op is right across the street, carries most of the same products (including good organic fruits and veggies) and the prices are much better.

    • Grandview Citizen says:

      East End Food Coop is also a featureless storefront, devoid of character, with a fraction of the variety, so the bar is set pretty low for that block of the Drive. But, at least they haven’t frosted their windows.

      • jakking says:

        The Coop has the rampway along the front making it impossible to stack goods out front.

      • Grandview Citizen says:

        An architect could likely design a workaround that is both functional and aesthetic in an hour or two. The ramp needn’t span the entire frontage.

      • jakking says:

        The Coop doesn’t own the building and, frankly, I doubt the owner charges enough rent to make the alteration a paying proposition.

  3. Grandview Citizen says:

    Ah, Choices!

    “…proud to be celebrating over 25 years as a local, grassroots grocer committed to our customers, communities and planet.”
    “Our Mission: … Designing our markets for a warm, attractive, family friendly shopping experience.” (See:

    You’re right, designing a store that fits the character of the neighbourhood is not rocket science. The current storefront is a shrine to mediocrity and out-of-sync with their mission statement.

    Perhaps you should have a chat with founders/owners Wayne and Lloyd Lockhart and Salim Ahmed and ask them point blank why they are so clueless about Commercial Drive. Or, is it Salim’s nephew, their hired CEO, Ishkandar Ahmed that’s asleep at the wheel?

    Could be an illuminating discussion.

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