Known as the first-stop-shop for anyone new to the diet or new to town, Lifestyle Markets offers the most comprehensive selection of gluten-free flours and baking ingredients in British Columbia. Enjoy carefree shopping in Victoria’s first – and largest – dedicated gluten-free department, take in a complimentary Gluten-Free Tasting or visit Lifestyle Markets’ sister stores on Cook Street or Lifestyle Select in Sidney
Wish you could try before you buy pricey gluten-free food? Here’s your chance! Join Ellen Bayens of The Celiac Scene for a fun and informative taste extravaganza! Second and fourth Saturday of every month Lifestyle Markets on Douglas Street between 12 and 2 pm. Look for Ellen’s smile in the Gluten-Free Department. No diagnosis or RSVP required.
Sep 23 2015 by CARLA WILSON Times Colonist Lifestyle Markets’ healthy niche remains vital after two decades © 2015 TC Publication Limited Partnership. All rights reserved.
When the first Lifestyle Markets opened on Douglas Street 20 years ago this month, the aim was to fill a niche in the marketplace by offering a grocery store featuring natural and organic items, nutritional supplements and vitamins, and body care products, along with a deli.
That one-stop shopping formula is still working two decades later. “The whole reason was to offer customers the one place where they could get everything,” said general manager Carmine Sparanese.
In the past, shoppers would normally go to different stores for groceries, supplements and other related products, he said. When it came to deli and grocery items, Sparanese said “it really was about better food.”
Today, sales continue to grow, he said.
The original Lifestyle, at 2950 Douglas St., has two offshoots. In 1996, a store opened in Sidney, which is partly owned by Sparanese.
The most recent store opened in Cook Street Village in 2001.
Lifestyle’s main owner and founder is Lorraine Peterson, of the Lower Mainland, who frequently travels to Victoria to work on the business. Sparanese helped put together the first Lifestyle Market on Douglas Street. It covers more than 10,000 square feet and was transformed from a carpet outlet. Some of the shelves that Sparanese built for the store are still being used.
The Cook Street is 2,400 square feet, and the Sidney store is smaller, at just over 1,200 square feet.
Lifestyle’s timing has paralleled society’s rising demand for healthy and organic products. Virtually all grocery stores have since followed a similar pursuit, carrying organic food, vitamins and healthy products.
Construction is underway for Vancouver Island’s first Whole Foods store to open in fall 2016 at the Uptown Centre on north Douglas Street. The Texas-based company is a major player in the natural and organic supermarket sector. Despite Whole Foods’ looming presence in the market, Lifestyle believes its customers will remain loyal and committed to supporting a local business, Sparanese said.
Lifestyle is celebrating its anniversary starting Friday with special events and prices for 20 days.
Reflecting the growing support for organic food, the province of B.C. announced Monday it is introducing new rules requiring all food and beverages marketed as “organic” be certified under either a provincial or federal program starting in 2018.
Lifestyle customers cover a wide demographic, Sparanese said. A young mother, seniors, and athletes were among shoppers in the stores this week. Many customers order online.
Some patrons come in because of their allergies or food sensitivities, requiring them to be cautious about what they consume. “There have been people here reading labels all of their lives,” Sparanese said.
Training and education plays a major role at Lifestyle, he said.
Staff numbers have increased from 20 when the business first opened to about 75 full and part-time employees, he said.
Lifestyle aims to promote local products, Sparanese said, reeling off a list of Saanich Peninsula farms. “To us, they are rock stars.” The majority of produce is organic, he said, adding he personally visits farms to get to know the farmers and their methods.