Inside Larry’s Market, Canada’s First Vegetarian Grocery Store
The North Shore shop is equipped with a kombucha-slushie machine, a grab-and-go counter and even a plant-based deli.
July 5, 2019
You may have some questions when you step into Larry’s Market, the 2,500-square-foot North Shore space that’s billed as the first vegetarian grocery store in Canada. For example, is this the same place that operates the surprisingly viable salad vending machine below the Lonsdale Quay Market? (Yes.) Are those things that look an awful lot like ham and sausage links being sold at the counter really not meat? (Yes.) And also, who the heck is Larry?
“Larry is everybody,” says Larry’s Market owner Ryan Dennis, whose middle name also happens to be Larry. “Larry is the person who’s a flexitarian—the person who maybe wants to eat vegetarian but doesn’t know how or who doesn’t think it’s a very convenient way of eating.”
So while Larry’s Market may be the first grocery store of its kind in the country—one equipped with a coffee-and-smoothie bar, a grab-and-go meal counter and, yes, a plant-based deli—Dennis has loftier ambitions: helping curious omnivores explore and perhaps eventually commit to a vegetarian lifestyle in a comfortable, non-judgmental space. “We see ourselves as the bridge between the person who’s eating meat two or three times a week and the person who’s a vegan,” explains Dennis, who adopted a vegetarian diet with his family two years ago after his wife was diagnosed with—and beat—breast cancer. “So if you want to give it a try—if you want to ‘trial’ being a vegetarian—we’re the place to come.”
To that effect, Larry’s is situated in the transit-friendly hub of the Shipyards and operates daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to ensure that its vegetarian goods are as accessible as possible. On-site, there’s a kombucha-slushie machine that serves up frozen blue-raspberry and peach-bellini bevs; a dessert area with treats by Whistler-based Solfeggio that are sweetened only with dates and maple syrup; and a to-go counter that offers prepared-in-house vegetarian and vegan pizzas, salads and sandwich “meats” with cheeky names like “Wack Forest Ham” and “PepperNOni” from Vancouver-based Plantbase.
The stock is wide-ranging, too: shoppers can expect to find everything from locally sourced produce and dairy-free yogurts to organic matcha, pickled veggies and meat alternatives like tempeh, Beyond Meat patties and marinated jackfruit. There are also items like all-natural shampoos and household cleaners—all of which Dennis ensures are responsibly produced, as per Larry’s pending B Corp certification. Prices aren’t cheap per se, but they’re comparable to what you’d find at a local health-oriented grocer. Dennis distributes a weekly flyer to alert shoppers of sales.
“I spent a lot of time visiting the Whole Foods of the world and ensuring that our prices are either similar to or less than what comparable stores are selling their groceries for,” he says. “I don’t want to have healthy food that’s going to be out of reach for people.”
One thing that’s missing in this seemingly vegetarian oasis? Plant-based pet food, a product (or lack thereof) that was quickly brought to Dennis’s attention by eager shoppers when Larry’s officially opened its doors last week—leading him to ask a question of his own. “Does anyone in the city make quality, vegetarian pet food that we could reach out to?” he says. “If we could find some, that would be amazing.”
Check out the images below for a peek at Larry’s Market before you visit IRL.
140–125 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver