As Robbie Brown walks toward Les Marchés Tau’s expanded produce section, explaining what makes the store competitive with larger food companies, he suddenly stops, smiles, and dashes at one of his employees to greet him. “That man has been with us for 25 years,” says Brown, Vice President of Les Marchés Tau and grandson of Tau’s founder, Eli Brown.

Brown likes to be on the floor of all six of his family’s health-conscious food stores. It helps him get to know his employees on a personal level, as well as keep a pulse on the wants and needs of the shoppers.

“I think for us, we’re really close to our consumers, we’re listening to them,” said Brown. “This store happened because people were asking for it and the different services that we added are things that people were looking for.”

On Friday, March 8 , Brown unveiled his new store in Pointe-Claire, which opened in the same shopping plaza off the Trans-Canada highway and across the parking lot from the old store location. The newest addition to the Tau family is the most impressive yet. At 35,000 square feet, it’s the largest of the group and it comes with all the bells and whistles.

When customers step through the entrance, they’re immediately presented with a plethora of produce options. There are fresh blueberries, apples, clementine, tomatoes, onions, and more. And the leafy greens are all kept in specialized nebulizing tables. Brown says that the technology helps extend the life of produce by about 30 per cent. It also eliminates the use of plastic wraps or packaging. “There’s a small computer that regulates the humidity spray. It’s almost like a humidifier for your vegetables,” said Brown.

There’s an in-house organic butcher – unique to all of Quebec, a fresh pasta bar, a café and juice bar, a bakery, a chopping station and a cosmetics section that would make their competitors shudder. It’s certainly a long way from his grandfather’s original 2,000-square-foot shop on St-Denis in 1978.

“There aren’t too many stores that offer everything to my knowledge,” said Brown. “There’s health food stores, but to find everything in one place, there aren’t too many.”

The store is bright, colourful, and inviting. And, unlike conventional grocery stores, there aren’t as many maze-like isles for customers to get lost in. Brown says his goal is to enhance the customer experience. He did away with the self-serve bulk section and replaced it with a full-service station where customers can see who is manipulating their food. It’s more hygienic and it’s convenient, says Brown. He also introduced gluten-free and vegan products. And, mimicking his Laval location, Brown expanded the cafeteria from three tables to nearly 30 tables.

And while Les Marchés Tau is growing rapidly, Brown says that the store’s core philosophy will always remain a priority. They have provided Montrealers with “natural and primarily organic products” for 41 years and Brown won’t abandon that mentality anytime soon.

“No matter how big the store gets, when people walk through the doors they know there’s not going to be anything artificial, no preservatives, no colourants in any of the foods or items that we sell in the store,” he said.

For more information, visit www.marchestau.com/?lang=en See more photos on page A21

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