T & T Supermarkets to open US location
April 2, 2024 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Metro Vancouver-founded T&T Supermarket to open 1st U.S. store in 2024

Founded by Cindy Lee in 1993, the T & T Supermarkets chain is currently led by daughter (CEO) Tina Lee. Here is a March 31st interview with Tina Lee, with CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporations)'s Ian Hanomansing.

T & T Supermarkets was acquired by Loblaw Companies Limited in 2009. Loblaws has been implicated in accusations of price gouging, specifically the infamous "bread price-fixing" of 2017.
posted by elkevelvet (50 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
In Toronto they are mostly notable to me for being totally slammed for lunch with their hot food counter service area, and for having pretty good produce at prices to match. Most of their product lines are Chinese focused; there are a few other Asian cultures represented but if you're more into Korean flavours you'll prefer H-Mart and Galleria. For our own part we rarely go to T&T anymore because Lucky Moose is closer (and cheaper).

Anyway, I wish them well. Just sharing my own little experiences.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:55 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]


I pluralized 'Canadian Broadcasting Corporation' carelessly, if the mods wanted to correct the error.

I don't follow the news closely enough to have been aware of the acquisition by Loblaw Companies Ltd. 15 years ago. The consolidation of Canada's grocery chains to a couple of big players is not ideal.
posted by elkevelvet at 8:00 AM on April 2 [5 favorites]


One, I would love T&T to open here in Kingston.

Two, why are we not hunting Galen Weston for sport
posted by Kitteh at 8:06 AM on April 2 [8 favorites]


The lines for the ferry aren't enough for ya ?
posted by MonsieurPEB at 8:19 AM on April 2


I'm doing my best to boycott Loblaws' various stores. I just moved my prescriptions from Shoppers Drug Mart to an actual pharmacy, and I travel further to shop at Nations than go to T&T for my international groceries. I still can't totally divest myself of all the stores Galen Weston has control over - No Frills is still my main spot for groceries. The other two major chains in Canada are nearly as bad when it comes to price gouging. They just don't put their owner in TV commercials.
posted by thecjm at 8:19 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]


I certainly spend enough nights dropping off to sleep planning ways to hunt billionaires with little personal risk. But then I wake up the next day and it's ablutions, breakfast, work, lunch, work, exercise, an hour of relaxation and then shower and bed again. And then it's the weekend and there's errands and chores, maybe a little together time with my partner. I haven't had a real vacation in years. It's really tough to slot "burn down capitalism" in my schedule these days.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:28 AM on April 2 [17 favorites]


thecjm, my local subreddit had a post about grocery shopping alternatives to the Weston empire and the rest. There was some good stuff in there, but it is true it is hard to escape No Frills & the rest for affordability. (I mean, even No Frills isn't very cheap anymore, so there are definitely some Frills.)

So I guess T&T's US expansion means ole Galen will buy another large mansion in the US. I mean, he practically lives in Florida full time, it seems.
posted by Kitteh at 8:28 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


It never ceases to amaze me the partisanship people express whenever they hear a new supermarket is opening near me. "Oh it has to be a Trader Joes", "No it has to be a Harmons", "Oh, I wish we could get a Mollie Stones in this state- they are so good".

To which I also say "Piggly Wiggly, or GTFO" - I have no affiliation or particular like or dislike for them - and haven't been in one in like a decade. It's just a regular reminder that there is an actual supermarket chain called "Piggly Wiggly". and that's hilarious.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 8:30 AM on April 2 [7 favorites]


T&T freaking rules
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 8:31 AM on April 2


I like T&T well enough, but I find that more and more often, they are running into the problem that for a company whose main task is getting products onto shelves, Loblaws is shockingly bad at getting products on shelves.

The amount of just empty space on shelves where products are supposed to be at any given Loblaws owned joint is sometimes astonishing. Other stores tend to run out of their sales items, probably on purpose (I'm looking at you, Metro/Food Basics) but Loblaws just runs out of all sorts of things all of the time.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:36 AM on April 2 [3 favorites]


When I saw this, I knew it was going to be in Washington State. And seeing they seem to be Chinese/Asian focused, was pretty sure it was going to be in Bellevue.

Ding Ding!

There is some "famous" revolving sushi bar place that is in the building that the PCC is in. Used to go to that PCC for snacks for my son who was lifting nearby, and man was there always a huge line outside of that place.

Given the urban decay that's been hitting Seattle's International District, knew it would be on the eastside.
posted by Windopaene at 9:09 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there is a Loblaws near us that we call "Communist Loblaws" because we never knew what would be missing from the shelves. There was always at least one basic staple that was missing -- eggs, butter, bread -- so we had to schlepp to another store to finish shopping. So we stopped going there. We later discovered that other people also independently referred to that location as Communist Loblaws.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:10 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]


am I a bad person for derailing my own topic to point out how damn good looking Ian Hanomansing is? I'm pretty sure I can't leave that alone.. any mention of Ian Hanomansing and I'm going to point out he's a good looking human being and Cross Country Checkup greatly benefits from his presence (voice)
posted by elkevelvet at 9:14 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]


My wife and I used to live in the Vancouver area, and we now live in the Eastside of the Seattle area. We do some of our shopping at Asian groceries, so this story is of interest.
Despite what the CBC story says, there are plenty of Asian grocery stores around here. However, the quality/price tends to follow the economic status of the parent country, so the Chinese places are cheaper with less fresh produce. If T&T can provide Chinese groceries with the quality of the local Japanese or Korean stores (but not their prices), it would be a winner for us.
posted by Prof. Danger at 9:25 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


The local T&T`s parking lots are filled with Washington plates on the weekends here in Vancouver.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:05 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


"In the release, Tina Lee said the company is open to launching more stores south of the border…"

In Mexico? That seems like a…oh.
posted by the sobsister at 10:34 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Since Loblaws has owned T&T I've found the quality has dropped (YMMV may vary of course). The one in town for us is relatively small compared to the Toronto area ones so that might be part of the issue. I'm more of Seafood City or Oceans person generally anyways (which we make a special trips for as they are long drives for us).
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:35 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there is a Loblaws near us that we call "Communist Loblaws" because we never knew what would be missing from the shelves

Curious if there are other Loblaws or Weston-owned grocery stores nearby.

In the US, Kroger seems to be trying to consolidate store chains that are in close proximity to each other near where I live, and empty shelves are a common problem at one Kroger-owned QFC nearby.

It could just be poorly staffed, but I wonder if starving stores of inventory is a deliberate way to slowly push customers to other stores in the vicinity, which are also Kroger-owned (natch) and tend to be more expensive or more profitable for the same items.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:58 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Around Seattle, I find it to be the opposite. QFC and Fred Meyer have mostly similar grocery stuff, as they are both Kroger, (sometimes FM has more options), but things at the QFC tend to have more of the "sale price with card" than FM. FM pushes their "app coupons" way more heavily though.
posted by Windopaene at 11:05 AM on April 2


Not being used to stores named Loblaws in the west of Canada, whenever I see them I think of Bob Loblaw's Law Blog. And Loblaws in my brain is sometimes Blah Blahs. Just like Superstore is Stupidstore.

But I can't fault No Frills too much, by virtue of having good imports catered to the neighbourhood and the fun flavour PC chips.
posted by lookoutbelow at 11:06 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Our area--Hoffman Estates/Schaumburg, NW Chicago 'burbs--can sometimes be a bellwether for where stores/shopping are headed in the US, because we tend to get things early. And yep, the newer supermarkets are nearly all international, many of them chains or fledgling chains.

We've got a brand new Joong Boo (Korean) supermarket, an H Mart about to move to a new location 3x larger, a Fresh International Market (Chinese), and a Patel Brothers (Indian). That's not counting the multiple "Fresh Markets" which is not a brand/group so much as basically code in this area for "Welcome, people of European/Asian/Latin American backgrounds! We have your stuff here."

We did also get an Amazon Fresh, but really most of the growth seems to be smaller chains of stores that begin from a place of accomodating people from particular backgrounds, but then draw in locals with excellent but also less expensive produce, meat, and seafood.

I'd like to try a T&T, but they may be coming to the US too late to carve out a niche in our area.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:27 AM on April 2


So, I'm in the area, why am I excited about this? What am I getting from T&T that I couldn't get at Ranch 99, Uwajimaya, H Mart or one of the many smaller local Asian groceries? Is the value here just "closer to my house than any current Ranch 99 location"?
posted by potrzebie at 11:59 AM on April 2


It's a puzzle likely only answerable by the people who drive across the border to shop at one.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:27 PM on April 2


Just popped by to point out the the name Roblaws is causing some consternation with the velcro fingered goons and lickspittles over in the Weston camp, which is a good thing.
Canada's feels more and more like a company town every day, from gouging telecoms, to gouging grocery monopolies, to gouging energy companies, etc we are being drained dry by our corporate masters.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:35 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


So, I'm in the area, why am I excited about this? What am I getting from T&T that I couldn't get at Ranch 99, Uwajimaya, H Mart or one of the many smaller local Asian groceries? Is the value here just "closer to my house than any current Ranch 99 location"?

In my experience, they have fresher produce and some of the more unusual herbs/veggies for Asian cooking.

Also, they mark down their prepared food from the previous day and it's generally cheap & tasty.
posted by thoughtful_jester at 12:53 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


their prepared food

the best steamed bbq pork buns are not to be found at T & T, but they're still tasty
posted by elkevelvet at 12:58 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Oh good..we don’t have enough stores.
posted by chronkite at 1:40 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I'm curious to see how this goes, as someone whose family have been loyal T&T customers right from the 90s Metrotown days. I suspect a big part of their dominance here in Canada is just timing - they started offering a nice, clean, well-lit suburban big-box supermarket experience, just with more Asian stuff, right when an influx of middle-class immigrants came along, and for years they were the only game in town (aside from the little hole-in-the-wall markets in the city, which were distinctly more downmarket), at least until about a decade ago when H-Mart and other Mainland Chinese big-box stores started popping up.
posted by btfreek at 1:53 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


It's just a regular reminder that there is an actual supermarket chain called "Piggly Wiggly". and that's hilarious.

Even more than that, Piggly Wiggly actually invented what you think of as a grocery store. Those aisles you walk by with product on them and select your yourself? Originated by Piggly Wiggly.
posted by hippybear at 2:02 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Oh good..we don’t have enough stores.

at one time, I can tell you T&T was an absolute revelation for many people in some cities. I'm not sure where you call home, but please understand that some cities (not to mention smaller centres) really lack for options when it comes to food

T&T, for all its shortcomings, is also an interesting story about a woman starting a successful venture in her new home country and handing the leadership over to her daughter, who, despite the acquisition by Loblaw Companies Ltd. appears to retain a degree of strategic decision-making with the chain.
posted by elkevelvet at 2:03 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


The Spokane area has a bunch of asian groceries, but they aren't chains. I mean, maybe they are, but they all seem to be individually developed mom and pop stores with different focusses. There are two only a couple of miles apart one of which is much more "grandma shops here to buy her groceries" and another that has much more corporate stuff on the shelves, lots of packaging.

We actually have a ton of specialty groceries here -- a bunch of Russian and Eastern European groceries, at least two mexican groceries that I can think of. And I'm not even doing this research, I'm just thinking about places I see driving around.

It seems weird to me that Bellevue wouldn't have a similar situation going on with locally owned themed groceries, but maybe it doesn't.
posted by hippybear at 2:10 PM on April 2


I'm actually really surprised that most people don't know where the Asian or pan-Asian markets are in their metro area, that T & T is an amazing revelation. A couple of minutes reveals at least one in Whitehorse.

Unlike the hideously inefficient supply chain that Loblaw's uses, your local independent market may well be negotiating directly with producers and wholesalers. Buy local.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 2:33 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Bellevue also absolutely has a lot of locally owned culturally specific grocery stores, but they're mostly smaller scale than it sounds like this one is.
posted by potrzebie at 2:33 PM on April 2


Amusing: The local T&T`s parking lots are filled with Washington plates on the weekends here in Vancouver.

Meanwhile, the parking lot at Trader Joes in Bellingham is full of cars with BC plates. Remind me again why there’s a border between BC and WA?
posted by seawallrunner at 3:33 PM on April 2


The local T&Ts parking lots are filled with Washington plates on the weekends here in Vancouver.

it's part of the cultural exchange programs that T&T and Trader Joe's are running (source: was at the Bellingham TJ's this weekend)
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:36 PM on April 2


am I a bad person for derailing my own topic to point out how damn good looking Ian Hanomansing is?

This is why he's also known as Ian HandsomeManThing.
posted by good in a vacuum at 4:14 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


I’m excited about this. For my family, it will replace the occasional trip to 99 Ranch. I do hope it doesn’t obliterate nearby Southgate Oriental Grocery, a little mom-n-pop Korean grocery in Factoria. The people there are nice and they gave me a recipe for jjamppong.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:59 PM on April 2


I'm actually really surprised that most people don't know where the Asian or pan-Asian markets are in their metro area, that T & T is an amazing revelation. A couple of minutes reveals at least one in Whitehorse.

I literally have four Asian markets within my downtown. T&T would be a fun bonus. Of course, they would probably put in the suburbs and for me, that's very Here There Be Monsters territory.
posted by Kitteh at 6:22 PM on April 2


It seems weird to me that Bellevue wouldn't have a similar situation going on with locally owned themed groceries, but maybe it doesn't.

Not Bellevue, but in south Northgate there was HT Oaktree Market, before it closed. Bellevue and Northgate also have Asian Family Market, which is not a chain (yet). AFM is a decent place to get Asian flavors on the cheaper side, and less expensive than 99 Ranch further up Aurora.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:24 PM on April 2


A Pricesmart just opened down the street from me, but it's nowhere near as good as the T&T 10 minutes drive away.

T&T stopped making my favourite cold food (beef tripe) though and their fried gluten flavourings have changed for the worse.
posted by porpoise at 7:30 PM on April 2


Now we just need a western Canada Adonis (which is TnT for middle eastern food).
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:38 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


In fact, from what I hear, the T&T is moving into the same shopping area as Asian Family Market in Bellevue.
posted by brookeb at 7:43 PM on April 2


The Bellevue T&T is in a location that was previously Wal-Mart in Factoria, Asian Family Market is about 5 miles north-east in a different strip mall area.

Other things around include a small-ish H-Mart in Downtown Bellevue. There’s Uwajimaya, a kind of small-ish family chain that’s been in the area since 1928 a few miles north. There’s a small Asian market a couple of blocks from the T&T location called Jing Jing. If you go further north and south there are chains like 99 Ranch and Seafood City, and there’s places like Viet-Wah in Renton.

T&T is going to be by far the biggest Asian grocery, though just by square footage.
posted by curse at 10:25 PM on April 2


Those aisles you walk by with product on them and select your yourself? Originated by Piggly Wiggly.

Their original marketing scheme referred to picking up items yourself as "Piggly-Wiggling."

okay that might not actually be true but come on you want it to be true
posted by mightygodking at 10:31 PM on April 2


Viet-Wah in Renton

There's a Viet-Wah up the street from Uwajimaya in Seattle's ID. Great place to get hunks of ginger and big bags of thai basil cheaply. And they carry durian for the adventurous.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:28 AM on April 3


please understand that some cities (not to mention smaller centres) really lack for options when it comes to food

Its worth mentioning, as I 'm not sure Americans are necessarily aware of this, in Canada 3 corporations own over 60% of the grocery chains (that doesn't include Walmart which has 8% of our market). In a larger centre it is possible to find independents but in some smaller towns (by that I mean under a million population) one or two of those chains can own 90% of the places to buy groceries. That has a tendency to create a pretty homogeneous food culture in some places and making it very difficult for small communities to flourish.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:42 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think non-Canadians are aware of how much monopolies flourish in this country because so much is done in the name of Keeping It Canadian. We pay out the nose for Internet, cell phone service, and etc because they refuse to let overseas or even US players come into the market to possibly lower prices for things. I know the Trudeau government toyed with the idea of letting foreign grocers enter the market to see if that cuts prices, but I don't know if anything came of it. (There's a whole argument people have regularly as well about CanCon.)
posted by Kitteh at 9:51 AM on April 3


Ownership chart of Canadian grocery stores and their offshoots.
posted by brachiopod at 3:15 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


There's a Viet-Wah up the street from Uwajimaya in Seattle's ID.

alas, no longer.

Still in Renton, I think.
posted by clew at 3:18 PM on April 3


That's very sad. I had no idea.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:08 PM on April 3


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