The Past, Present, and Future of T&T Supermarket

No matter your cultural background, with more than thirty stores across Canada, it is becoming increasingly likely that you have shopped at a T&T Supermarket. In fact, now you can even shop online or through the T&T app.

Grand Openings
lion dance T&T grand opening

On June 1st, T&T Supermarket celebrated the opening of their new location in Coquitlam, BC. This is their second store in Coquitlam, and with another location newly open in Toronto, that brings their total of locations across Canada to thirty-three. To give a sense of how popular T&T Supermarket is, their new Toronto location quickly reached $1 million in sales in the first week.

Humble Beginnings

T&T Supermarket was born of a need. Founder Cindy Lee was living in East Vancouver and was buying her groceries from individual specialty stores. She bought fish from an Asian fish market, bread from an Asian bakery, and meat from an Asian butcher meanwhile, down the street, a Safeway was conveniently providing the North America equivalents all under one roof. Cindy wondered, “Why can’t our community have that?” In 1993, she opened the first T& Supermarket. Now T&T is Canada’s largest Asian supermarket chain.

When it came to naming the store, Cindy looked to her own family. T&T stands for Tina and Tiffany, the names of her two daughters. In 2024, Founder and CEO Cindy retired and her daughter, Tina, stepped into the role. She could not be more proud of what her family has accomplished.

T&T CEO

T&T: A Destination Supermarket

The new Coquitlam location was also born of a need. T&T Supermarket opened their first store in Coquitlam in 2000. It was an over performing store that was too small for the growing Coquitlam community, so T&T began looking for a new location. After a five year search, they found their new space which used to be a Home Outfitters. The new Coquitlam location, built by Alliance Construction, is sizeable but it still feels bright and welcoming. It is a little unusual to place a grocery store next to a highway but the new Coquitlam location, off of Lougheed Highway, shows how T&T has become a destination in and of itself.

Diversity and Discovery

It is understandable that T&T has become a destination as it provides a wide range of products to buy, from home goods to skin care to fresh produce and seafood, but T&T also serves ready-to-eat dishes like dim sum and BBQ. T&T has a dual function, depending on the customer. They are at once a source of familiar ingredients for Asian Canadians (and soon Asian Americans) while also being a place for food discovery and food exploration. The diversity of ramen flavours, for example, might be exotic to one customer and comfortingly recognizable to another.

woman in aisle

Sharing food and recipes can be a way of passing on traditions. Food can also educate, and be a means of building bridges between cultures. Regardless of a customer’s background or culture, T&T Supermarket is a place to celebrate food.

Uncharted T&T Territory

T&T Supermarket aisle

Besides the over thirty locations that T&T operates across Canada, they are about to venture into uncharted territory as they open their first American location in Bellevue, Washington in the summer of 2024. This new location will be a massive 76,000 square feet which will make it the biggest Asian grocery store in Washington state. With over three hundred T&T branded products, and newly opening stores, T&T’s familiar green branding will be seen more and more across North America.

 

About Bronwyn Lewis 53 Articles
Bronwyn Lewis is a food writer for the Vancouver Guardian. She’s also a screenwriter and producer. Born and raised in Vancouver, Bronwyn lives in Mount Pleasant and you can follow all her food adventures on Instagram.