We here at The Sweet Potato love animals, so much so we thought we would write a blog post about it and highlight some of staff product picks while we’re at it!
WE’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY!
As we prepare to celebrate our 10 year anniversary with a party like no other, we can’t help but get nostalgic as – digging through old boxes – we find pics that really bring us back.
Do you remember how we started? We were a bunch of kids when we opened the High Park Organic Market – learning to buy and sell produce, teaching ourselves how to build displays, and working a full week in three days. We’d start just after dawn, working through the weather, and busting butt the way that only young people can. We don’t have a ton of photos from back then; nobody really expected things to go the way they did, so we weren’t preoccupied with documenting things.
After a few years, our customers convinced us to open a year-round store – you probably know how this part goes. Some of you might even remember how it looked in those early days: we had handmade wooden shelves, and the front of the store was occupied with our short-lived smoothie bar!
One lesson we learned early on was to pay attention to what our customers wanted, and be unafraid of change.
Post smoothie bar, we used the space at the front of the store for what we lovingly called the “Chip Cave”: cases of potato chips, stacked floor to ceiling. We had a little seating area at the front, which folks really appreciated, although at least one person seemed to think that chairs were only an impediment to real relaxation!
Around that time we started to really grow and specialize, hiring new managers and expanding our offering. Word got around that The Sweet Potato was on the up and up and we won Now magazine’s Best Of Toronto in the Organic Grocery category!
We’ve always been pretty involved and invested in the Junction neighborhood, and we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to step up our community game. Every year, we donate hundreds of pumpkins to the Junction Pumpkinfest – the local pumpkin carving event for kids and families – and every year it’s a treat for our staff to dress up, head out, and spend the day reveling in the mad energy of kids wielding sharps in service of their creativity!
“Let ME do it!”
At a certain point, we started to think it was time we got serious about our branding, and so we put our heads together and came up with a pretty great slogan (if we do say so ourselves):
Our team expanded to include some great design talent, and we started expressing our sweet attitude visually.
We ran a Body Care Blitz through the summer of 2017, and had SUCH a good time designing a new themed ad every week!
And with the opportunity to sponsor a local roller-derby team came an opportunity to build an ad that was too good to pass up!
Our flyer also went through a bunch of changes over the years… do you remember shopping this sweet design exactly five years ago?
Well, we kept on growing and improving. We got fancy new fixtures, and a great new fridge, and added a bunch of freezers, and had the great idea of dispensing free fruit to kids… and then there was that one summer when we got written up in two different Japanese culture magazines!
We’re pretty big in Japan.
When we had grown as much as we could at our original Dundas Street West location, we started planning to move to Vine Ave. We got the word out, and gave out free ice cream every Sunday during the summer to help folks find their way to the future site of our new store!
We learned a new lesson during this time: moving an existing store and setting up a new store should – by rights – take a lot longer than a few days, or even a week. No matter; our awesome team worked round the clock to miraculously open the doors of 108 Vine Ave just in time for our Grand Opening Party on September 24th, 2017.
We’ve been at our new location for over five months now and it’s amazing how quickly we’ve adjusted. Even more amazing: how our customers have welcomed us once more to this community we’ve been so proud and privileged to call home.
You – our customers – have been the source of not just our survival, but also our growth and evolution. You asked for a year-round place to buy organic and local produce in the company of the weird and wacky folk like the few who started the High Park Organic Market; we opened our Dundas West store.
You asked for aisles wide enough to push full-sized shopping carts and strollers (heck, both!) through, an apothecary where you could stock up on vitamins and supplements, an expanded product selection, a sweet community space to eat and catch your breath… the list goes on. And to you, we say a resounding and enthusiastic: YES! Because every day as you shop our (now spacious) aisles, you give us the humbling, overwhelming gift of being able to be our fun and quirky selves, obsessed with bringing you the most incredible and exciting selection of products we can get our hands on at the sweetest prices. You let us do what we love. And we love doing it for you.
Happy 10 years! Thank you!