Why aren't there more dedicated gluten free grocery stores?

I got an email the other week from a local entrepreneur asking me about the gluten free community.  They own a retail shop that has a gluten free selection, but was wondering about the value of expanding that selection further, or even opening up a gluten free stand alone.

I think they were surprised with my answer as I think they may thought I would have just jumped out and said 'OPEN UP A DEDICATED GLUTEN FREE STORE'.  

But I didn't.  

I had a hard time telling someone to take their own money, and invest in a dedicated store here in Edmonton, when so many have failed in the past.  

Why did others fail?  

I'm not sure.  

I was only able to speculate about customers willingness to drive across the city vs. shopping at local grocery store.

I provided examples of stores that do a great job at stocking gluten free items, here in Edmonton that are specialty shops, but not necessarily gluten free:
  • Earth's General Store
  • Ben's Meats & Deli (The owner Dave and his family are almost all Celiac.  He does a good job at filling in the gaps and has freezer items and shelved items imported from Europe (he is Deutsche)
  • Planet Organic (locally founded in Edmonton, and now has grown to a number of locations across Alberta and a couple out of province)
  • Italian Centre Shop - My understanding is Theresa Spinelli, or someone in her family is Celiac and she carries specialty gf products.  Often imported from Italy
  • Never been but Blush Lane carries some gf product
  • Not really independent, but a specialty store none the less, Bulk Barn has a gluten free Aisle, and often has different products not normally carried by everyone.  They have both boxed mixes and some bulk items.  Lots of snacky stuff!
I also reminded them that there are three dedicated bakers with brick and mortar loctaions:
  1. Kinnikinnick Fresh - Their bakery is located in one of their factories, and also doubles as a small gluten free store that offers products not produced by them.  Located close to downtown  10940 120 St NW - Existence for many years!
  2. RioVida Gluten Free Bakery - Najah is the owner, and she is a wonderful lady.  She mainly sells her own baked goods, fresh or frozen. She also does catering.  She is located at 100 Ave and 178 street ish. - Many years been open
  3. Celebrate, Gluten Free - I'm not as familiar with the owners as they do not interact with me on social media.  They have been open for several years as well and to my understanding, sell their own goods.
What I ended up suggesting was to expand their selection with their ear to the ground about what type of products the community wants here in Edmonton!

All they really have to do is follow us and see what people are asking for.  Everyone went kind of crazy when I posted that Celiac and the Beast said that they got Schar Pastry Dough in the states.

We also saw these yummy pastry puffs in Toronto, but not here in Edmonton (we've seen the Katz brand at Sobey's before)

I won't give up who asked me about opening up a store, but I know they follow me, so I know they will see this, read this, and read your comments.  So if you don't agree with me.  Comment and share this post on Facebook.  Let them see that you will shop at a dedicated store, no matter where it is in the city.


  1. I would shop at a dedicated GF store only if it offered something other than supermarkets, and at reasonable prices. Frankly, supermarkets have gotten much better at having decent offering of GF foods and products; why would I travel to a dedicated GF store to buy, say, Udi's hot dog buns, when I can pop over to any of my local supermarkets and buy it? A dedicated store would have to have items that can't be found anywhere else--one example would be King Arthur GF flours, which are only available in the USA and don't ship to Canada.


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