Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Ben, a delivery bike rider for the Annex Market
“If you could give 300 more hours in the work week, I would really appreciate that right now,” says Corey Berman, owner of the Annex Market.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Annex Market’s local food-delivery business has been booming. The market is a low-waste store that allows customers to purchase products online and pick them up or have them delivered if they reside within the delivery area. Food security non-profit Aangen, which runs a farm wholesaling social enterprise, has been working with the grocery store as it navigates these unprecedented times in food security.
The right fit
The recently opened Toronto grocer has turned to Aangen to purchase its eggs and butter (both organic and non-organic). Berman says partnering with Aangen for these food supplies was a natural fit.
“From a values point of view, first and foremost, we were aligned,” Berman says. “For us, we’re trying to support local food producers, and Aangen has an important role in distributing these foods to the market.”
“From a values point of view, we were aligned with Aangen”
The little market that could
Located on Bathurst Street just south of Bloor Street, the market opened its doors on Feb. 1, 2020. Its initial goal was to create a reusable food container with a deposit-based system, but with the coronavirus forcing us to all keep distance from each other, Berman realized they could not do it safely.
Instead, he shifted his focus to supporting local food producers, whose usual revenue sources - hotels, coffee shops and farmers’ markets - have been compromised by the pandemic by carrying their products. It is also assisting restaurants across the city to pivot into grocery stores by using their dining rooms spaces to sell basic provisions.
Since Canada began its pandemic-induced lockdown in mid-March, Berman has greatly increased how much it orders from Aangen to meet demand from customers and restaurants.
“It’s safe to say we’ve grown fivefold since the middle of March, or even more than that,” he says. “Aangen has been great at responding.”
Beyond food security
By buying from Aangen, the Annex Market is not only supporting local farmers, it is also helping to have a positive impact on the planet. As Aangen buys food products only from farmers within a 100-kilometer radius of the city, it is helping the environment through reduced travel emissions.
“One of the fundamental principles of Aangen is to respect the environment and establish local economies to create lasting positive change for communities,” says Gurbeen Bhasin, executive director of Aangen. “We’re thrilled to support the Annex Market and other grocers in meeting rising community food needs during the pandemic in a sustainable way.”