Longo’s is a family owned grocer that operates 24 stores in the Greater Toronto area, and this one, in Maple Leaf Square in the city’s downtown area, is its flagship.
Accessed by an escalator from street level, this 48,000 sq ft store is as much a feast for the eyes as the mouth and really is about giving food its fair shout in the visual merchandising stakes.
This is achieved through the effective use of food islands - cheese counters, coffee and tea areas and suchlike, as well as large, arresting graphics in the mid-shop and around the perimeter. It is also, in keeping with much of the new wave of supermarket design, about not making everything white. The ceiling void is black with lighting used to highlight merchandise areas instead of flooding every corner with high-level ambient light.
It is also about reminding the onlooker about the provenance of the food that is being offered. The tea and coffee island is a good example - it has wooden barrels filled with coffee beans and bags of the unground product sitting on top of them. The barrels serve little function other than mood creation and the sensation is that you have left the environs of a supermarket and moved into a coffee-roasting emporium.
This form of presentation is used across large parts of the store and is what used to be called ‘zoning’ when laying out non-food in department or electrical stores.
Longo’s takes the lessons that are available from sectors outside food retailing and applies them to this space to create drama in a way that will be unfamiliar but appealing. It also works as a series of market-style counters. The only thing similar to this in the UK is Whole Foods Market and this is better.