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Thornhill’s Walmart is the first nationwide to have kosher bakery, GNC and K-W Optique

Walmart is also going to continue with this model by catering to its various demographics
Jan. 21, 2021
Dina Al-Shibeeb

After its grand reopening last fall, Walmart is “excited” about the drastic revamping its 136,000-square-foot outlet in Thornhill has undergone, explained Sam Hamam, senior director, licensees, Walmart Canada.

From the $110 million investment out of the big $3.5 billion announced last year, Walmart Canada is refurbishing over 150 stores, translating into local impact for Vaughan residents.

At Thornhill’s Walmart, there is some history in the making, with its first kosher bakery, GNC and K-W Optique nationwide serving customers.

The impetus for Walmart in Thornhill notching up some of its services for a more upscale feel -- without compromising its signature low prices -- is the “affluent” customer-base as well as the area’s “heavily Jewish” population, explained Hamam.

“As a result we said, 'OK, what can we give to the community?' and we thought of bringing in a partner that has a kosher bakery,” Hamam said. “Ester’s bakery is our first from scratch, licensed bakery, meaning that they start from a bag of flour.”

Having a kosher bakery also means going “full” kosher to gain more “credibility” for Walmart’s customers as it remains closed from Friday afternoons and Saturdays to “respect Sabbath.”

With these changes being “received quite well in the community,” Hamam said, “We're excited about the model.”

Walmart is also going to continue with this model by catering to its various demographics.

“While we may not be able to replicate Ester's kosher bakery across other markets, we will certainly be able to replicate the business model, where you know we potentially can bring an Italian bakery or Vietnamese bakery to a different market,” he added.

And it’s not only demographics but also giving consumers the option of going for more affordable prices or choosing brands like Ray-Ban glasses.
When asked about this business model being Walmart's first, Hamam said: “It's the first one outside of Quebec. Quebec has different regulatory requirements so really it's the first one in Canada.”

There is also a move to bring additional health-care services by having the Jack Nathan Health Medical Centre, both family practice and walk-in.

“We anchored around our pharmacy business, we decided to bring in three partners one is Dr. Nathan Health,” he added, coupled “with a bunch of ancillary services such as physical therapy, chiropractic, etc.”

Walmart’s investment has also seeped into not only store innovations like a brand new McDonald's for the Thornhill location but also for omnichannel technology, including “omnichannel fulfilment space” to increase the speed of fulfilment for pickup and delivery.

In addition to its 300 associates, the revamping at the Thornhill retailer has added approximately 125 trade, construction and in-store jobs.