A Grocery Store Built Around You
Stong’s is a full service retail grocery store, established in 1910 in Toronto by the Stong Brothers, Carson and Joseph. We are 100% BC owned and operated.
At Stong’s Market, we offer a wide selection of products – far more than your average grocery store. We carry all major national brands as well as an extensive selection of unique, gourmet, natural and organic products. We pride ourselves on being local and in turn support local suppliers large and small. We have become the test market for many small suppliers looking to develop their product. In fact we were the first store to offer Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisp crackers which are now sold throughout North America.
Our Meat, Deli, and Produce departments are second to none. Our fresh meat is cut and packaged in-store by apprenticed meat cutters not at a central plant. Our selection is outstanding, including exotic seafood, and gourmet items such as pheasant, quail, duckling and ostrich.
We believe our Edibles department to be the best out there. We carry a huge selection of home-made salads, entrees, roast meats along with the highest quality sliced meats, salami’s and sausages and local and imported cheeses.
Our Produce department offers nothing but the best in fresh fruits and vegetables including a great variety of organic, natural and ethnic choices. Whenever possible we support the local farmers buying direct.
Stong’s also offers Stong’s Express, an on-line shopping service. We offer daily deliveries to Vancouver, North & West Vancouver and weekly deliveries to Bowen Island. It doesn’t get any easier! We are proud and confident of the products we sell and to prove it we carry a 100% guarantee.
(And Great Granddaughter of Carson Stong)
In the late 1890’s, two brothers, Carson Ross Stong (“CR”) and Joseph Stong, both barely out of their teens, joined together to open a retail food store in their home town of Toronto. Before too long they had up to four stores there. One we know was on Bloor Street; the other we know of was at 234-254 East Queen at Seton Street. The building was still there in 1997, a small convenience store at 252 East Queen.
The brothers and their wives left Toronto in the early 1900’s and headed west to Edmonton, where they set up shop for no more than a year. They then decided to head south and began business in Seattle. Carson was the Grocer and Joe was the Butcher. Their families were born there. Ralph was born to Carson and Agnes in 1914.
Carson engineered the business to include as many as six markets in the Greater Seattle area. He was also instrumental in setting up the famous Pike Place Market on Seattle’s waterfront.
In 1931, the Depression was just hitting hard and the brothers closed shop and parted company. Joe, headed South and ended up in the Los Angeles area. Carson went back to Canada and leased space at the corner of Victoria Drive and Turner Street. He soon became active in the Vancouver food scene and convinced “Blackie” Blackburn to set up an open market at the corner of Robson and Seymour streets. Stong’s was the main retailer in Blackburn’s Market, which thrived for years. Carson was there behind the setting up of the Grand Union Market, at the corner of Abbott and Hastings Streets. Stong’s was the main tenant there also. When Blackburn’s closed, Carson, wife Agnes and son Ralph ran the Grand Union Market.
In 1943, Carson passed away and Ralph kept the business going with the help of Agnes (Granny) Stong. Ralph’s wife Evelyn was home raising their two daughters-Beverly and Karen.
By 1955, Ralph could see the trend in shopping and made a major move by buying a ‘Tom Boy’ store at the corner of Dunbar Street and 28th Avenue (4395 Dunbar – where BMO is today) in the West Side of Vancouver, and vacating the Grand Union Market. A merger soon afterwards saw the name change to Stong’s Shop Easy. This store thrived with Evelyn at Ralph’s side and they soon outgrew it. Their wholesaler and franchiser, W. H. Malkin Ltd., could see this and they acquired the property across the street and built a new 10,000 square foot store for Stong’s – which was opened in the Spring of 1960 (at 4326 Dunbar – where the shoppers is today). Ralph thrived even more-so in this new store and soon paid off all his creditors, dropped the Shop-Easy name and set out on his own direction as Stong’s Markets Ltd. – 100% Independently Owned and Operated.
In 1963, Ralph acquired a troubled Shop-Easy store in Edgemont Village in North Vancouver, which became Stong’s #2 and in 1968 another store became available at Rupert Street and 22nd Avenue, which became Stong’s #3. In the late 1960’s, Ralph was eager to step back and turn the business over, so he invited Karen’s husband Bill to come and work for him and learn the business. Bill started with Ralph in February 1969 and absolutely loved the business! Ralph retired and Bill ran the company buying another store in Dundarave in West Vancouver at Marine Drive and 25th (Stong’s #4), in 1972 and opening Stong’s #5 in the Deep Cove/Dollarton area in 1973. The 1970’s were good years and Stong’s was well situated in Vancouver’s ‘North Shore’ and both the West and East sides of the City of Vancouver.
In 1980 the lease had come to an end on Stong’s #1 and Bill was able to negotiate a deal on a larger store just 2 blocks South to 30th and Dunbar (4560 Dunbar – across from the Dunbar Theatre) so in March of 1980 the ‘new’ Stong’s #1 was reopened with much fanfare and the old location became a drug store (now Shoppers’ Drug Mart). Ralph passed away in 1987.
Early in 1989, Bill closed the Edgemont Village store as it was at the end of its lease and economically it made sense. Later that year (Aug 31) he opened the newest and largest Stong’s store in Lynn Valley Mall in North Vancouver. By this time, all three of Bill and Karen’s children were active in the business: – daughter Cori, sons Mark and Wayne (Mark left in 1990 and is now successfully running his own wholesale fish business. Wayne and his family left Vancouver in 1995 and are now in Victoria. Wayne is working for a Vancouver Island chain.)
Early in 1990, the decision was made to close and vacate the Rupert Street store. Bill was able to buy the property earlier in the year then sold it just after closing the business in March. The early 1990’s brought great changes to the grocery industry in B.C. and Bill could foresee problems for such a small chain, so in 1992 an eager buyer was found for the 3 North Shore stores and they were turned over on January 7, 1993.
As a family they concentrated on the Dunbar location. Carson’s Great Grand-Daughter Cori Bonina was handed the reins as General Manager in 1997 and became President in 2001.
In 2016, Cori had to temporarily close the original Dunbar store due to the developing neighbourhood but opened a new location on the North Shore and later in 2016 the original Dunbar store was reopened only a couple blocks up from the previous location. It’s almost in the same location as the original store in 1955!