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Photos: Downtown Vancouver’s massive grocery store ready to open for business

So shiny!

After months of being built out, staffed, and stocked, the new Loblaws City Market in downtown Vancouver's The Post building is opening on Feb. 2.

The 40,000-ft. grocery store (located at 658 Homer St.) is one of the largest food-specific stores in Vancouver; with that much space co-owner Dave Sherwood says there's a chance to offer a wide variety of foods to customers.

"When we have a place that's this large, and I have 170 employees now, we feel we have the ability to deliver real value on fresh products," he tells V.I.A. during a pre-opening day tour. 

Fresh products don't just mean shelves of produce and coolers with meat trays. It means a lot of food preparation inside the building creating hot meals ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook options to take home.

Around half of his staff are full-time employees (an oddity in the grocer business, Sherwood says, which typically leans on part-timers more), and more than half of them (94, to be precise) work in preparing food at the store, as opposed to stocking shelves or as cashiers. That ranges from sushi chefs to chicken-frying cooks to fruit prep to the meat cutters.

That turns into tortilla chips fried feet away from where customers can pick up bags, rotisserie turkeys every day, and pizza cooked in-house (including hand-stretched dough).

"Right now we're making all our own kebabs, all our own handmade sausages," he says. "We try to really show that we're making stuff in the store."

For those getting a ready-to-eat meal, there's also a place to eat them, with a seating area and tables near the service counters.

While Loblaws has faced public criticism for its pricing recently, Sherwood says he's trying to offer customers value.

"We know things aren't cheap and I'd never say 'Come here, we're the cheapest place to shop in the world' but I do think we offer the best value," he says. 

To that end, customers can expect to find $5 tubs of house-made smoked salmon dip to grab on the go, $10 build-your-own pasta bowls, and a new spotlight deal program (for example, boxes of Canadian pantry staple Kraft Dinner are going on sale for 60 cents each).

Shelves carry a variety of general grocery goods as well, from the recognizable yellow labels of no name to higher-end B.C. products. You'll see plenty of made-in-Vancouver products, too, like Hobbs Pickles and Milano Coffee. 

"It's not always the cheapest products, the B.C. products, but they offer good value," Sherwood says. "And the more you really, really make an effort to support local, the more we grow local businesses."

The store opens Feb. 2 for the first time. Regular hours will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week with an extra hour (so closing at 11 p.m.) on event nights like when Lionel Messi is in town for a soccer game, Canucks playoffs, or big concerts.

Parking is accessible from the Hamilton Street side with elevators to the store level; parking is always free for shoppers (with cashier validation).

Sherwood notes that having launched a Facebook page months ago for the store, he looks forward to meeting the people he's interacted with online in real life. 

Watch: Peek inside Downtown Vancouver's massive new grocery store 

@forkingawesomevia Peek inside Downtown Vancouver’s new massive grocery store (with so many ready to eat options) #forkingawesome #vancouverbc #notsponsored ♬ Jazz Hip Hop in the early 90's(219692) - TOKYO Lonesome Blue