Thursday, December 1, 2011
Brit Foods: Saskatoon’s Very Own British Food Store
My parents were British, and I have spent many happy months in England visiting family friends and relatives. I used to enjoy shopping at the Canadian outlets of Marks & Spencer and was very sorry when they closed, so I was delighted to learn that Saskatoon now has its very own British food store.
Brit Foods is located in Cumberland Square, in the covered alleyway just down from Safeway. It’s a treasure trove of British food. The owner, Tony Badger, says they try to stock the national brands, so you’ll find soups by Marks & Spencer and Baxter’s, Yorkshire and Typhoo tea, Heinz beans, Rose’s preserves, Thornton’s chocolates, and Walker’s chips.
In addition to the food products (primarily packaged although there are pork pies and a few other items in the freezer), there is an entire wall devoted to loose candies. You can also pick up a linen tea towel or an English magazine.
There is a second Brit Foods in Parksville on Vancouver Island, but Mr. Badger says that the demographics are quite different. Parksville is a retirement community, whereas Saskatoon has a number of younger British families who came to Canada to take advantage of work opportunities (truck drivers, electricians).
Some of the most popular food items in Saskatoon are the crisps, chocolate, pop and squash as well as the sauces and preserves (Bisto, pickled onions).
Badger says that he brings in 85% of the products himself so as to avoid third-party markups. I assumed that he would be able to place joint orders for his two stores, but that isn’t the case. The products for the Parksville store ship through Vancouver, whereas the products for the Saskatoon store ship through Montreal. And that complicates matters as there can be delays while bilingual labels are prepared.
You don’t have to be British to enjoy shopping at Brit Foods. It’s always fun to sample something new – pickled walnuts, cloudy lemonade, mulligatawny soup. Be sure to try the British chocolate – it’s much richer and tastier than the North American versions. And don’t miss the potato chips that come in an amazing variety of flavours – from roast lamb & mint, to steak & onion, to smoked ham & pickle.
Brit Foods is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Monday to Saturday. They will be open on the first three Sundays in December, 2011 from 11 am to 3 pm.