1545 Dundas Street West
What are two well-educated young women to do when they find themselves with doctorates, but no where to use them? Why, open an organic food store of course!
Such was the case for Nupur Gogia and Carrianne Leung recently when they discovered that the only way to make use of their formal education was to leave Toronto, something neither of them wanted to do. Gogia was already part of an established family business, running the successful Raani Foods, and Leung wanted to stay close to her family in Toronto’s west end. With no retail background other than Gogia’s experience selling her famous samosas at St. Lawrence Market, the pair leased a storefront in the Dundas West and Dufferin area and opened Multiple Organics just over a month ago.
With the philosophical goal of putting their customers in closer contact with the food grown around them, the pair have filled their bright cheery shop with a cross-section of local and organic produce, meats, cheese and prepared food, as well as imported organic items such as cereal, snacks and other necessities of life.
Gogia’s impetus was her love of food and cooking – it’s not unusual to find free samples of her baking on offer at the cash – as well as her enthusiasm for the local food movement. From her years of selling samosas at St. Lawrence Market every Saturday, she got to know the people she bought her supplies and personal groceries from and the shop is a great way for her to share her passion.
Leung’s reasoning was more personal – as a resident of the neighbourhood, she recognized the need for this kind of shop in the area (locals would have to travel south to Queen or west to Roncesvalles to find anything resembling a health food store), and she knew the community would respond.
The pair have responded to their new customers as well. While I’m there, a customer drops by to return a glass Harmony Organics milk bottle, and purchase another. “We want to work with our customers to accommodate their needs,” says Gogia, as she explains how they are still fine-tuning their inventory based on customer requests, such as the request that they carry milk in returnable glass bottles. Customers wanted produce and the vibrant section of seasonal items at the front of the shop is about 80% local. They’ve filled their fridges with cheese from Monforte Dairy and meat from Rowe Farms which is available both fresh and frozen. On the shelves, customers can find locally grown flour, grain and pasta (including the much sought-after red fife flour) from Grassroots Organics, as well as locally made crackers, and even local tomato products from Ontario Natural Food Co-op.
Future plans for the shop include additional shelf space – the fixtures were all custom made by a local artisan – and perhaps a renovation of the basement where Gogia is considering setting up salon-style cooking demonstrations to further involve the community. Weekends will continue to see snacks and samples as well as demos on a regular basis. Other specials are also planned – already the Thursday curry night special has become a neighbourhood hit – for $15 customers get two curries (one meat and one veg) and a package of naan, or two veg curries and naan for $13. Add a package of Gogia’s own Raani samosas, and it’s a quick local meal for two.
Multiple Organics is still in its infancy, but Gogia and Leung’s enthusiasm and dedication, as well as their philosophy of keeping their offerings as local and ethical as possible, is sure to be a hit with the neighbourhood as well as anyone looking for some of their other unique offerings. I’ve already loaded up on bags of red fife flour to make bread, and am of two minds of the benefit of having full-time access to Monforte cheese (at least the shop is a good 15-minute uphill walk from my house), and plan on making the shop a regular destination on my shopping rounds.
So while Gogia and Leung might not be putting their doctorates to good use by teaching in their chosen fields, it’s quite possible that their little shop just might make them even happier in the long run. They’re definitely doing their part to bring good food to the people in the Dufferin and Dundas area, and the work they’re doing to forge ties between people and the food they eat makes them important players in the local food movement.
Note – Multiple Organics has a website in the works, but in the meantime, Facebook users can check out the Multiple Organics page on Facebook for info, news and updates.