As it prepares to celebrate its 40th year in business, family-owned and operated Cousin's Market is putting the final touches on a major renovation and expansion project that will allow it to continue satisfying its growing customer base for decades to come.
In a highly competitive business environment, Cousin's has successfully battled back against the increasing pressure of big box grocery stores by deepening its commitment to provide customers top-quality foods, service and value.
“Our customers have been coming to this store for generations because they want fresh, local ingredients, premium brands and delicious, prepared meals that they can’t get at any of the big chain stores,” says Gus Battaglia, who owns and operates the store with brothers Mark and Anthony. “We still hold to a long-time tradition of sourcing the best local fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses every day.”
The $3 million makeover is the largest renovation project since the store on Hurontario Street in Mississauga was opened by the brothers’ late father, Pasquale, and two cousins in 1978.
Highlights of the project include:
- Adding 3,000 square feet of indoor shopping space by expanding into a neighbouring courtyard;
- Creating an expansive state-of-the-art commercial chef’s kitchen to prepare dozens of daily fresh meals to go made with non-genetically modified and organic ingredients, as well as salads, fruits, vegetables and Cousins-branded sauces, oils, dressings and juices;
- An expanded meat department featuring free-range, hormone-free and organic meats including chicken, lamb, pork and turkey, as well as wild-caught fish;
- A new deli and cheese department featuring an expanded selection of meats that are prepared and cooked on site, as well as a new cheese island with dozens of varieties for every taste;
- A new salad bar and an eat-in dining area with stone-oven pizzas prepared fresh daily;
- A soup island featuring three different soups from more than 30 varieties made fresh from scratch daily;
- A new bulk food department with a heavy emphasis on healthy foods like nuts, seeds, snack mixes, dried fruits, granola, spices and much more;
- An expanded catering department for private and corporate functions; and
- An updated appearance that takes visual cues from architecture in the neighbourhood and captures a modern-but-rustic feel.
Cousin's also invested in hiring more than 20 additional specialized staff to manage the store’s expanded offerings, including 30-year food services veteran Anthony Caruso, who serves as Director of Food Operations.
“Our customers are looking for that personal touch — something that’s getting harder and harder to find at the big box outlets,” he said. “We understand that everyone is busy and that life today is very fast-paced. That’s why we do everything we can to provide great service and quick, wholesome food options.”
Cousin's commitment to quality and value has allowed it to forge relationships with several premium brands and offer their products in the store, including a full line Beretta Farms hormone- and antibiotic-free meat products in its meat department.
While other larger competitors may carry some of the same brands, their offerings are limited and for the most part pricier. The store’s emphasis on offering cleaner, better food products at fair day-to-day prices is the key to its success.
Other premium brands Cousin's offers include Balzac Coffee and David’s Teas in its café.
Customers have already been responding well to the renovations and additional services. Business has increased by 25% since last fall when the project was begun, Battaglia said.
To mark the completion of the project and celebrate the upcoming holidays, Cousin's is planning to hold customer appreciation events on December 9th and 10th, featuring food tastings, entertainment and socializing.