The best and worst Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Toronto are tricky to tackle: how does one measure the likeability of an army of chain stores that are designed to serve the same purpose? Interestingly enough, not all Shoppers are the same. Some are great grocery stores (minus the produce), and others, premium makeup suppliers.
There are medium-sized Shoppers', deluxe superstores, and seemingly last-minute, underground and compact locations. And given that every neighbourhood in the city has their own go-to location (sometimes two!) there's no doubt that Shoppers Drug Mart holds a special place in all our lives. (For Drake, it's the bottom.)
Here are the best and worst Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Toronto.
Situated directly across from The Danforth Music Hall just east of Broadview and Danforth, this Shoppers location offers a huge presence on the Danforth strip. The two-storey building (which takes up only one floor with very high ceilings) has a generous food selection, brightly lit and wide aisles, along with a comfortable digital photo lab located near the pharmacy at the back of the store. Downside: only street parking is available. Upside: proximity to a large LCBO location and Bulk Barn.
This 24-hours Shoppers is what dreams are made of: a spacious entrance, cleanly organized shelves, a solid magazine stock, specialty toys for holiday shopping, and an overall pleasurable shopping experience. This Lawrence Park location is, not surprisingly, very family-friendly and exemplifies the best qualities of a suburban SDM location. It boasts a sufficient parking lot, an RBC ATM, and plenty of baby, pet, and children's products.
Regulars of the Queen and Beverly Shoppers enjoy a large make-up selection with helpful staff and a food store with well-stocked shelves and sale items that almost never run out. The bright, open second floor, while only accessible via stairs, has plenty of household and pharmaceutical products, along with a generous electronic department and school supply shelves. This location also hosts a Certified Diabetes Educator and a calm, quiet atmosphere - a pleasant surprise for an otherwise bustling part of the Queen West strip.
The clean, roomy Shoppers (another best that features a large LCBO nearby) found on Dupont, east of Spadina, gets bonus points for being close to the subway station and keeping TTC tokens in stock. The location has garnered a reputation for having helpful staff in all of their departments and a reliable stock of sale and regular priced items.
Yonge's Midtown Shoppers Drug Mart location is a sleek, modern alternative to downtown's handful of dreadful underground Shoppers and under-stocked, small locations. A short jaunt from the Eglinton subway station, it has a wide entrance that opens up into a bright, well-stocked beautyBOUTIQUE and beautyRX Skin Care section. There's a large dry goods and frozen foods selection that satisfies any basic shopping needs beyond produce and an impressively extensive stationary and gift-wrap selection. Downside: the checkout is a too small given the size of this location and some of the overhead lights are dim.
Avenue/Dunblaine (North York)
Despite its odd hours and comparatively small location, patrons of this North York Shoppers praise the store's vast selection of non-GMO products, organic goods and health foods as well as natural cosmetics and unique essential oils. Other bonus stock includes rare Burt's Bees items and Crab Tree & Evelyn goods in their assortment of body care merchandise.
Mount Pleasant's quaint Shoppers Drug Mart, while located in a more narrow setting than your typical SDM, presents a clean interior stocked with essential beauty supplies and higher-end makeup, as well as a healthy food selection. It's located amidst charming shops along the Davisville strip and is an easy, well-stocked quick-stop for locals.
The Yonge and Carlton Shoppers Drug Mart, found right above College subway station, is a contentious subject for the crowd it serves. Its strengths lie in duo entrances that offer (on the Yonge side) a wheelchair accessible option and alternative for those with sensitivities to the perfume section, as well as its extensive beauty and skincare selection and comfortable room for the inevitable lines during checkout (particularly massive at night). That being said, customers typically find the sale selections to run dry quickly and have noticed little attention paid to spacing for other certain long lines at the Canada Post office.
This awkwardly laid out Shoppers Drug Mart is generally too busy for comfort and runs out of stock in their food store, in regards to both regular and sale items. Its low ceilings and the varying positions of their uncomfortable, short aisles make it difficult to shop as efficiently as alternative locations that feature a straight-forward layout of well-spaced aisles and stock.
Queen East's Shoppers Drug Mart looks more like a warehouse or outlet store than your average neighbourhood Shoppers. Its shelves are neatly stocked and clean, but the burnt out lights and dim atmosphere create an unwelcoming vibe. However large the store may be, the department selection leaves much to be desired: only the very basics, like a pharmacy, Canada Post, and food store are located here.
Lines, lines, and more lines. The greatest problem in the Shoppers Drug Marts of our time is that any are understaffed and insist on paying only a single cashier during all peak hours. The Walmer Place storefront is no different, and on top of this predicament, has few good qualities besides their convenient location near the Spadina subway station. The specialty skincare section (beautyRx Skin Care) and Canada Post office appear to be an afterthought and the food selection is limited to junk food and condiments.
Plain and simple, this just renovated Shoppers is frustrating for those who live in the area and don't have the option to frequent a different one. Most complaints centre on the location's poor management regarding understaffing and wait lines that push you to the point of leaving before checkout. Another recurring issue with this location is that there is little available security for customers who are uncomfortable with non-patrons loitering directly outside the entrance.
However central this Shoppers may be for West-enders, the location has an inconvenient set of hours and doesn't host the typical stock of food or a Canada Post. Each component - the small magazine rack, short aisles, and inconveniently laid out cosmetic section - don't seem well thought out. Besides the pharmacy and cosmetics department, most items can be easily found at your local convenient store or small grocer's.
This Financial District Shoppers Drug Mart was clearly designed with the nine-to-fiver in mind, as their hours are short and inconsistent depending on the day of the week. It's a small shop that's difficult to navigate when you're in a hurry, and when placed in an intersection with lots of busy, rushing people at various peak hours of the day, prepare to be forced into an uncomfortable shuffle on your way to the Twizzlers aisle.
St. Clair/Vaughan Rd.
The majority of complaints that have come out of this store stem from the pharmacy staff. Frequenters have dished an alarming amount of concerns regarding how educated and helpful the staff are with regards to filling prescriptions and sufficiently informing customers on their proper use after pick-up. The Shoppers itself is regularly understaffed (surprise!), out of stock on regular grocery items during the week, and can become very busy on weekends, meaning there's even less stock to choose from.
This is another Shoppers Drug Mart location that was built for the everyday needs of the commuter crowd. As such, it's regularly packed with eager subway-hoppers and, paired with its low ceilings and tight aisles, only offers a very uncomfortable shopping experience. It's the type of Shoppers that you dread going into and leave as quickly as you came. There's not much to offer in the food department and too much priority given to their wide holiday and seasonal aisle. Shocking bonus: there are usually enough staff on hand for lineups to move more quickly than most other locations.
Did I miss any? Leave your favourite (or least favourite) Shoppers in the comments below.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
by Alex Brown via blogTO