A guide to shopping in Canada

One of the first challenges of being new in town is knowing where to go to buy stuff. If you moved from US, shopping in Canada won’t be an issue as the stores, and products in the two countries are mostly the same. If you migrated from a different part of the world other than North America, you might find this post useful.

The selection of stores in Canada are not as vast as there are in US, but we do have some of the big stores here too :). It would be daunting and almost impossible for me to list all the stores available in Canada, but what I would like to do is give you a general idea of where to find what.

I imagine that one of the first things you need to purchase immediately is groceries.

An aisle in a grocery store

The big players in this arena are Costco, Real Canadian Superstore, Walmart, Loblaws, Extra Foods, Sobeys, No Frills, Safeway and Co-op. All of these stores sell groceries and carry other items. For example, at Walmart, you can purchase Electronics, furniture, prescription drugs, clothing, toys, home and kitchen items.


Generally, people find flyers to be a nuisance. I became familiar with the different brands of products available for purchase by browsing through flyers. Flyers also give you information on prices, items on sale, coupons and so on. Most stores have weekly flyers online or delivered to your home.

Specialty Stores

Specialty stores focus on specific product categories, like office supplies, clothing, furniture, electronics or books. Examples of furniture stores include Ashley, The Brick, Leons and IKEA. There are also specialty stores that specialize in men and women clothing and in different sizes. There are children’s stores like Oshkosh, The Children place and Gymboree.

Hardware stores

Canadian Tire, Rona, Lowes, Home Hardware and The Home Depot are common hardware stores in Canada. There, you will find all the things you need for your home renovation, appliances, and DIY project around the house.

Shopping online

I love shopping online because I can do this from the comfort of my home.  Most retailers offer the option to buy their products online and some offer free shipping if you purchase a minimum dollar amount. Others will ship to a store near you where you can conveniently pick up your order.

The advantage of buying online is that you have a wide selection to choose from and you can compare prices among retailers to get the best price.

The biggest online retailer in Canada is Amazon.ca. With their prime membership of $79, you can get free shipping for qualifying items. Amazon is like an online general store so you can find almost anything you want to buy on their website.

Ethnic stores

With the increase in population, some ethnic stores are opening to meet the demand of their ethnic group.  A big supermarkets chain catering to Asian foods is T&T. You will also find stores for other minority groups like Indian and African stores in most of the cities.

Dollar stores

Dollars stores carry items priced at a dollar or a little bit more. My favorite is Dollarama because of the quality and wide selection of goods they carry like. If you have one close to you, be sure to check it out. I am sure you’ll find one or two things to pick up at a bargain.

Settling down takes time and, furnishing your house when you first arrive can easily add up. Be patient with yourself as you explore and become familiar with your new environment.

If you recently move to Canada and have tips on settling down, I would love to hear from you.  Please leave me a comment below.

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