T&T Supermarkets, the largest chain of Asian grocery stores in Canada, is expanding into the U.S. with a store in Bellevue, Washington, set to open next summer.
The Richmond, B.C.-headquartered company said in a press release Thursday that the 76,000-square-foot store will create more than 300 jobs and be the largest Asian supermarket in the state.
The new store will be a flagship for the brand, said T&T chief executive Tina Lee. It will be one of just three stores of that size, the others being a Richmond location and a new one in Montreal.
“We’re just going to bring everything we’ve got,” she said.
Lee said the company has been noticing a significant number of shoppers from the U.S. at their Richmond stores, especially over the American long weekends. Over time, that trend made opening a store in Washington state an obvious choice, she said.
T&T, which Loblaw Companies Ltd. bought in 2009, currently operates 33 stores in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. It has continued expanding over the years, launching an e-commerce platform in 2020, entering Quebec in 2022 and, most recently, opening a new location in Toronto in May.
Lee said T&T’s ongoing expansions show that its appeal has only grown over time, with shoppers from every walk of life interested in what it has to offer.
The new store will feature a sushi counter, hot food bar, noodle station and in-store kitchen and bakery, the company said, and will sell more than 300 of T&T’s private label products.
The store will hold its first job fair this summer for supervisory and higher positions, the press release said.
The company will also be establishing a regional office in the greater Los Angeles area and is hiring for office positions including buyers and category managers.
The area houses the biggest port in the U.S. and is a hub for the Asian food trade ecosystem, said Lee.
“We do have to build a whole new network of vendors and suppliers,” she said.
Lee said the company is open to launching more stores south of the border, but for now it’s focused on making this one a success.
“We’re very focused and excited about our first store. And that certainly leaves the door open to more,” she said.
“It feels like a big step because it’s a new country.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.
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