The Asian supermarket T&T has chosen its location in Montreal and it will be the largest in Canada


And although it belongs to the colossus of Loblaws grocery stores, T&T Supermarket remains a family business.

It was founded in Vancouver in 1993 by Cindy Lee, a Chinese immigrant, who named it after her daughters, Tiffany and Tina, its current CEO, who started with the business as a grocery bagger and took the reins when his mother retired in 2014.

“I have a brother, his name is Jason, but TT&J doesn’t sound that good,” she told MTL Blog.

Break into a new market

Courtesy of T&T

Breaking into a new market is a tough test in the life of any business, Lee said, but T&T sees promise in Montreal because “it’s the second largest city in the country with a decent Asian population.”

“We knew we had a clientele that lived in Montreal because on weekends we often saw a lot of Quebec license plates in our store in Ottawa, as if they were taking the two-hour drive to our nearest store and were stocking up,” she said.

As this will be its first store in Quebec, the company has indicated that it “will ensure compliance with the provincial laws and regulations in force relating to the French language, in terms of signage, communications with employees and customers and advertising”.

“This also applies to the packaging of all products that will be sold in our stores which will have to have a bilingual label,” he noted in an emailed statement. “T&T can count on the support and expertise of Loblaws, which already operates many stores in Quebec.”

Fries aisles are bursting with unique flavors

Courtesy of T&T

Shopping at a T&T supermarket is more than a typical trip to the grocery store, “it’s an experience,” Lee said.

“When you walk into a T&T store, I want to hit you in the face with freshness and abundance and amazing ingredients that you couldn’t buy in your typical subway,” she said.

The store will carry hard-to-find and exotic fresh fruits, vegetables and mushrooms, she said.

There’s also an in-store bakery, a feature Lee hopes Montrealers will appreciate. “I highly recommend people try our bakery cakes as they are less sweet than the typical supermarket cake and they are freshly baked daily.”

Other amenities include hot food stations offering everything from Chinese barbecue to bao sandwiches and a seafood aisle with “a row of fish tanks holding enough water to fill your pool,” Lee said.

No visit is complete without some iconic Asian snacks, and the many aisles of T&T fries are bursting with unique flavors. There are, for example, scallop-flavored chips, salted egg yolk chips, wasabi chips and crab chips, but that only scratches the surface, Lee said.

They are looking to hire over 300 people

Courtesy of T&T

The company also begins early to recruit and train the store’s management team.

Lee said they were looking for people with grocery retail experience, “plus, I would really like to hire a management team that speaks French and has a passion for experiencing Asian flavors.”

Recruits will have to go through a lengthy training process at an existing T&T store – the closest to Montreal is in Ottawa.

“I think that’s what’s hard to cross into new provinces with new languages,” Lee said.

When the store opens, the company will hire over 300 people to join the team.

“We also want to open up our sourcing to local suppliers,” Lee said. “There are a lot of small Asian food manufacturers located in Quebec that we haven’t contacted yet, so we’re very open to them contacting us and introducing themselves.

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