Burquitlam Safeway; Price Check On Aisle One

Seeing as I needed a loaf of bread, I decided to make another visit to the Burquitlam Safeway. While I was there I also checked out the layout of the store and the prices in the new store.

Burquitlam Safeway

After leaving the fresh produce section of the store you enter the main part of the store. I was pleased to see that they have a relatively large “Wellness Market” where they have a wide selection of vitamins and other health-related products.

Burquitlam Safeway

I stopped shopping at Safeway a long time ago because they stopped being price-competitive with stores like Superstore or No-Frills. However, I did notice that many of the prices in the store have yellow tags on them indicating temporary discounted pricing.

A savvy shopper will be able to save money by purchasing items with the yellow discount tags.

Burquitlam Safeway

Seeing as I was looking for bread, I grabbed a photo of one of the many shelves of bread. You can buy baked in store bread, artisan bread, “grocery store” bread, and some of what I call, good quality grocery store breads.

If you buy two loaves of the Silver Hills bread you get a discounted price of $3.50 a loaf. That to me is a pretty fair price for a decent quality bread.

Burquitlam Safeway

Just like the bread, the frozen veggies seem to be competitively priced.

Burquitlam Safeway

And of course butter. A staple in my cooking (if you’ve ever seen me in the kitchen you’ll know what I mean). The house brand of butter is $3.99. I usually buy butter at my local No-Frills for $3.89 so again, competitive pricing.

Burquitlam Safeway

And of course the thing that seems to have many people excited; the liquor store. Well, bad news folks; there is no liquor store in the new Safeway. However, there is a liquor store downstairs and outside the new Burquitlam Safeway.

The “Safeway Liquor Store” is actually a separate store from the new Safeway. The word on the street is that Safeway bought up the license or something like that to the Rhino Pub Liquor Store which is across the street in a building that is being demolished to make way for another high-rise tower.

So in effect, the Rhino Pub liquor store is simply moving across the street into a newer, fancier building with the Safeway name added to it.

Bottom line, the people who looked forward to “one stop shopping” for groceries and booze in the Burquitlam Safeway are not really going to get their wish.

All in all, I am still impressed enough with the new store to keep returning.

 

Burquitlam Safeway Grand Opening

Friday was the grand opening of the Burquitlam location of the newest Safeway in Metro Vancouver and I have to admit, I was quite impressed with the design and layout of the new store.

Burquitlam Safeway

You enter the new store at ground level where there is a sort of market section; there are bulk boxes of fruits and veggies and a floral department.

I suppose they needed to do something with the ground floor because it is the level where people enter from but it is not the main part of the store. Perhaps this area will be sub-leased once the Burquitlam area becomes more fully developed.

Burquitlam Safeway

Then when you come upstairs into the main floor of the store there is a real “market like” feel. It is almost like many small market stalls inside one store. There is a Starbucks, a Bento Box/Sushi place, a thin crust, made fresh on site pizza place, a sandwich store, a fresh juice stall, and more.

Burquitlam Safeway

The feeling that I got from this new location of Safeway is a combination of Whole Foods and Thrifty’s Food. It has a warm and welcoming feel to the store with lower light levels than the typical surgical room brightness that so many stores still use.

Yes, the “main” part of the store, where the shelves of canned and preserved foods are on display is still brightly lit, but they got the lighting right in the market place.

I have to admit, I spent most of my time wandering around what I call the “market place” where all the ready to take and eat foods and the fresh fruits and veggies are on display.

Burquitlam Safeway

The soup stand.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

The juice bar. Fresh juices made on site. Including with wheat grass – an idea my Bears were completely perplexed by, “People eat grass?”

Burquitlam Safeway

As I said, there is a clear focus on convenience foods in the Burquitlam Safeway. Food s you can take away and quickly re-heat or take away already hot. I assume the designers of the store are counting on the residents of the surrounding residential towers being frequent shoppers.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

There is also an impressive selection of baked goods and seafood in the market place.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

Seafood display including an aquarium of doom. My Bears wanted me to buy all the lobsters and crabs on display and free them. However, they also wanted me to buy some of the scallops that were on display and take them home to cook and eat.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

There is pretty impressive selection of cheeses on display.

Burquitlam Safeway

The deli meats.

Burquitlam Safeway

The specialty deli meats.

Burquitlam Safeway

And the veggies. Very beautifully displayed. Time will tell if these pretty displays last or if they are too “pretty” and not actually practical.

Burquitlam Safeway

The prices, at first glance they seem competitive…although I was not really paying attention to the prices. I was focused on the design and layout of the store.

Burquitlam Safeway

More produce on display.
Burquitlam Safeway

There is also a large of selection of bulk foods in the Burquitlam Safeway. I have to admit that this is basically as far into the main part of the store that I ventured. I will explore more of the store on my next visit – including finding how Safeway has managed to build a liquor store into this location.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

One more thing I did notice; the check-out counters are thoughtfully designed. While there are some “self checkout” counters, there are also checkout counters that are staffed.

The checkouts are far enough apart that people with strollers, wheelchairs, or buggies full of goods are not being squeezed through a chute like cattle. Thoughtful.

My first impressions of the store are quite positive. On my next visit I will be sure to more closely check prices, find the liquor in the store, and get into the main part of the store.

 

How To Beat the Heat In Metro Vancouver

Now that we have had a couple weeks of this hot weather and the forecast calls for at least another week of it what I would call exceedingly hot and humid weather, out here on the West Coast I have been looking for ways to beat the heat in Metro Vancouver.

Front Lawn
Front Lawn

To help you (and me) beat the heat, I have compiled a list of five places to go on any of these super hot sunny days, especially if you are taking care of small children.

One of the places that I find respite from the exceedingly hot weather is IKEA. Even if the IKEA “ballroom” is busy and you are unable to hand responsibility for your children over to one of the adolescents who are in charge of the ballroom, at least you can go inside the village-sized warehouse store and spend hours aimlessly wandering around looking at beds, bedroom suites, and living-room furniture that those wacky Swedes have come up with.

When my kids are in there and jumping up and down on beds or couches or worst case scenario, dining room tables, I see their behaviour as a public service. Jumping up and down on the furniture is doing a stress test on the furniture to demonstrate the quality of the furniture on display.

Of course my all-time favourite place to go on a sunny day is Costco. I have blogged about this favourite retreat of mine before so I will not bore you with details other than to say, an air-conditioned warehouse, $1.50 hotdogs that come with a soda AND free food at every turn. What more is there to life?

If you are looking to avoid crass commercialism, another place that you can visit on a scorching hot day is the public library. I know that the downtown Vancouver public library is open until 9 PM most evenings. If you have done your due diligence and you have actually taught your kids, the way we have, that books are valuable and great entertainment, then you can spend an afternoon in the library without experiencing heat stroke. As an added bonus, library washrooms are typically pretty accessible and relatively clean.

The Vancouver Aquarium is another place where there is lots of air-conditioned indoor activities for you and the kids to enjoy. You might want to check the news or the Twitter before heading down there to see if there’s a protest going on about keeping whales and other marine life in captivity.

It can be awkward trying to explain to little kids why people are shouting and screaming and making you feel like a piece of shit as you are going to visit one of their favourite places. The fact is you are really just going in to the aquarium to beat the heat and the fact that there are fish and whales in small tanks is another issue.

Of course unless you have a membership to the Vancouver Aquarium, that is going to be a very costly day-trip. Especially when you try to escape the Aquarium through the gift shop.

Another place that you can go for free, sort of, is the your local shopping mall. A shopping mall such as Metrotown or Coquitlam Center offers quite a wide array of experiences.

During the summer months there are any number of strange and bizarre looking teenagers wandering aimlessly around the mall as if they are on the set of the Walking Dead. These strange and bizarre creatures can be entertainment for smaller children or at worst, they can be traumatizing.

Be sure to use your judgment while you’re out in the mall. If you play your cards right you can always go into the Apple store in the Coquitlam center or Metrotown malls and have your kids glom onto an iPad while you are receiving a sales pitch or tech help from the wonderful people who work in the Apple Store.

If you are looking for something where you were still outdoors but you don’t want to be in the direct sun, then you can always venture into an urban forest. Forests like Mundy Park in Coquitlam, the Seymour Demonstration Forest offer many heavily shaded trails or paths to walk on.

So if you want to go to IKEA, Costco or a suburban mall you can beat the heat. If you have the internal fortitude to drive across Vancouver and attempt to find parking at the Vancouver Aquarium, you may be able to beat the heat that way. You can also wander around an urban forest or the public library. Whatever you do, get out of the sun before you melt!!

 

Costco – A Shopping Paradise

Is there anywhere else in Canada as wonderful to shop at as a Costco? I’m mean really, it is a shopping paradise. Especially on a hot summer afternoon and your kids are cranky from the heat and bored of every single toy they own you feel like you are about to lose your mind.

Costco. What a dream. At the entrance is a food service place where people stand around like hogs in a barn getting fattened up for slaughter. Poutine, (poutine-light is fries without the cheese curds and gravy), hotdogs and soda for a buck fifty, pizza with enough meat on it to kill a bear in hibernation, and ice cream. Ice cream cones or ice cream in a cup with berry-like product poured over top by a wonderfully kind person who probably dreams of seeing one of the hogs fall over dead in the feeding lot. Paradise.

But hold-on. You don’t even have to buy food at the feedlot entrance! They give it to you for FREE as you are aimlessly walking around the store! FREE!!

Today for example, after school I took my darling little ones to Costco to kill time and to keep me from completely losing my mind. A strategic thing to do when entering Costco is to immediately throw at least one massive item in your cart. You don’t want anything too heavy because that would be a lot of effort to push around a tire or something like that. Today I placed a monster sized package of ass-wipe in the buggy so that it didn’t look like I was just wandering aimlessly around the Costco like a homeless man with two homeless daughters.

Once we had our cart looking legit we proceeded over to the food retailing end of the Costco warehouse and began cruising the buffet. Meatballs were our first option. Three please! (Ironically they were so yummy and light tasting that I bought a bag of them!).

Across the aisle to get a piece of pita bread with olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Lovely!

The pickled seaweed salad was not a hit.

Up the row to get a drink of Kirkland cranberry-raspberry cocktail and there is a woman with a tray of sausage chunks! A couple of those and you have your sodium quotient for the day. Done.

A little sweet would be good about now so the lady giving away Bearclaws is in order. Nice. A little Greek-style yogurt? Why yes, thank you!!

Ah, a chunk of aged cheddar! Three please. When the kids say, “Daddy I don’t like that kind of cheese” you quietly hiss in their ear to keep quiet because this is YOUR favourite cheese.

Kirkland Pizza
Kirkland Pizza
And then the best part, for ten bucks you can get an entire pizza to take home!!

A five cheese pizza for ten bucks? Count me in. You can extend the good times to your return home!

With summer fast approaching and long days at home with my wonderful children you can expect me to be spending many long and wonderful afternoons in our local Costco.

Who needs camps when there are Costco stores located all across Metro Vancouver like beacons of hope.

In fact, just to change things up a bit I may get really exotic and go to a Costco in a neighbouring community.

In September when the kids go back to school and they have to write a blurb about what they did this summer, don’t be surprised if they write about long afternoons spent wandering around Costco.

City Life, Suburban Life Part II

In my ongoing exploration of the differences between a city life and a suburban life, I had blogger Lee-Anne of the Mom Paradigm snap a picture of the shopping experience in the Olympic Village.

Urban Fare
Urban Fare

 

 

 

 

 

Costco Shopping
Costco Shopping

I then snapped a picture of the suburban shopping experience.

The key difference again? An ocean of asphalt for a parking lot in the suburban shopping experience.

Customer Satisfaction with ATC Landscaping and Country Tire

A couple of stories of total customer satisfaction today. The first one involves a fence for our backyard and the other, tires for the family car.

Our backyard is fenced on three sides, but not on the front – the side facing out to the front street. As soon as we go into the backyard with the twins, they run to the front, where the busy street is. So the call went out for estimates to close off the fourth side of the yard.

After a couple of false starts we called ATC Landscaping. Steve took our call. He said that he would come around and look at the job on Saturday morning at 10.

Saturday morning at 9:30 Steve called to say that he would be around in half an hour. And half an hour later, knock-knock at the door. We went out back where he measured the spots where we wanted the fence to go. He asked me about the purpose of the fence and what height we wanted. He told me about the options we had for the grade of the fence panels and asked me about what size of gate we wanted.

Back gate westside of house
Back gate westside of house

Once he had answered all my questions and I had answered all his, he told me that he would email me an estimate. And sure enough, later in the day the estimate was there in my email inbox. An estimate that fit our budget.

Fast forward a few days and Steve shows up, exactly when he said he would. He introduced me to the two guys he was leaving behind to do the job and told me that he would be available if I had any questions.

Anyway, later in the day we returned home to find the fence in place, exactly as we wanted it and a pile of yard waste that was too heavy to throw over the fence into the neighbour’s yard all gone. An all around professional job by the guys from ATC Landscaping.

Fence from inside
Fence from inside

Steve, the owner, I believe, had an absolutely professional approach to his customers (me and my Sweetheart) and the work that he lined up for us. Very impressive!

The other customer service success story had to do with getting new tires for the family car. “New” new tires cost about $110 each and after having spent all my money on the fence, I didn’t have the $500 to get new-new tires. So I started calling auto-wreckers and used tire stores. I won’t bore you with the calls I made to the shops who didn’t have the time to help me. However I will say that I finally got Martin from Country Tire in Surrey on the phone.

I asked if they had any good quality winter or all-season tires for our family sedan. He went out to the yard and said that yes, in fact they did have a set for me. Two fronts with 90% tread left and two for the rear of the car with 80% tread left. He told me that installation is on a first-come, first serve basis. I said I would be at the shop in an hour and a half.

When I arrived the place was swarming with customers and employees. A car would be wheeled into the shop and like the race car pit crews, the car would go up in the air, the wheels would come off the car, the tires would be stripped off the wheels, replacement tires would be put on, rolled over to the guy doing the balancing and then back to the car where they were re-installed on the car. All this done by a team of guys wearing black Carhartt bib overalls and and black t-shirts.

As soon as a car backed out a guy who looked like he was an ambassador for the Easy Rider magazine asked if I had been helped yet. I said no, but that I spoken to a guy called Martin. Mr Big took me into the yard where the tires are stacked and he picked out four tires for our car.

Back to the car, he looked at the rear tires on the car and told me to not bother replacing them. He matched up a good set for the front of the car and next thing I knew the pit crew were doing their thing to the front of my car. Minutes later I was back on King George Boulevard with new-used tires on the car.

I wanted to take a picture of the tire place but I just could not figure out how to capture in a picture all the madness that was going on. And besides, it really did not look like the kind of place where the people would necessarily want their picture taken. I’m just saying.

Two awesome customer service experiences that I have had in the last little while. I love being able to share successes. Great stuff.

Disclosure; I have received no incentive or financial reward for writing this blog entry. I am not obligated nor expected to write this blog entry about ATC Landscaping or Country Tire. In any blog post I write or publish on my site, I retain editorial control at all times. Should you have any questions or concerns, contact me at editor@theleftcoast.ca

Day Tripping to Granville Island for Gallo Mussels

On Sunday we took the twins to our favourite place in the city, Granville Island. Unlike the brave souls who engage in the blood sport of finding a parking spot on Granville Island, we park a block away and walk down to the Market.

The Entrance to Granville Island
The Entrance to Granville Island

Although we often like to go to Granville Island to soak up the ambiance, yesterday’s foray was purposeful in its nature. We were headed to the Lobster Man to see what kind of fab West coast Mussels they had in their tanks for us.

Granville Island The Lobster Man
Granville Island The Lobster Man

Upon our arrival we were not disappointed.  A lovely bin of the Gallo Mussels awaited us. Gallo Mussels, long grown in Europe and eastern Canada, they are now cultured in the cool, clean coastal waters of BC and and available year round, this mussel’s delicate flavor is a great compliment to any of your seafood recipes.

Granville Island The Lobster Man's Gallo Mussels
Granville Island The Lobster Man's Gallo Mussels

And what I consider a genius marketing move that all retailers should consider, The Lobster Man tells you how to prepare the food they are selling you!! So if you are unsure of how to cook mussels, they hand you a sheet of paper with a variety of ways to prepare their product. Pure genius I say.

Granville Island The Lobster Man Mussel Instructions
Granville Island The Lobster Man Mussel Instructions

My Sweetheart decided to try the Mussels with shallots and wine. A simple preparation; into our Lagostina dutch oven my Sweetheart poured about a cup and a half of white wine, a couple of finely chopped shallots, a bunch of basil and a pinch of cayenne. She let that boil gently for the required five minutes and then left it to simmer until it had reduced to about a half cup (all of measurements are approximate seeing as our girls have hidden our measuring cups in their toy box).

After the sauce was reduced she scooped in a dollop of butter and let it melt. Then she dumped in the mussels (after very carefully washing them under fresh, cold water). The recipe calls for 4 pounds of mussels to feed three people. My Sweetie bought 2 lbs and that was plenty for the two of us.

Clap the lid on the pot, reduce the heat to medium and let them cook for 8-10 minutes. In the middle of that cook time, pull the lid off the pot and give the mussels a quick stir. Put the lid back and let them cook until they pop open, usually within the estimated time. If some of the mussels do not open, throw them out. Otherwise, enjoy!!

Cooked Gallo Mussels
Cooked Gallo Mussels

And although it was close to ten o’clock last night when we ate dinner (both babies were up all evening screaming like someone was stabbing them with a spoon) the mussels were an absolute delicious delight. Their meat was in fact plump and sweet and delicious. This dish was much easier to prepare than we ever thought it would be. Like I said, handing someone a recipe along with your product is pure genius.