This year, Ashdown Market opened its doors in the Exchange District. It’s filled with fresh produce, affordable groceries, and a vibrant sense of community.
The Ashdown Warehouse building was one of Winnipeg’s first buildings in 1885 and one of the Exchange District’s first condo buildings in 1987. It’s a perfect fit that first grocery store of its kind is located in this historic building.
Helmed by Josh Giesbrecht, Noel Bernier, and Marley Mecas, Ashdown Market started as a cannabis store and has grown into the bodega-style grocer open today. The name pays tribute to the historic J.H. Ashdown Hardware Company building it resides in. You can find remnants of the old warehouse displayed on the building’s exterior signage.
An entrepreneur at heart, Josh Giesbrecht has had a few ventures at 171 Bannatyne Ave. What started as a business selling personal protective equipment became Ashdown Cannabis post-pandemic. After some time in operation, Josh noticed a need for produce and groceries in the area. He wanted to diversify his business and made it his mission to bring fresh and affordable groceries to the Exchange — thus, the concept of Ashdown Market was born.
Josh and his business partners knew that providing a place to purchase fruits and vegetables in the Exchange District would be a game changer for residents. Partnering with their neighbours at Hermanos, Ashdown Market started humbly with a few fridges and tables for produce. To practice sustainability and decrease food waste, they began by selling items Hermanos was already using in their kitchen. Demand was high, with profits soaring 70% from May to June.
After this quick success, “We wanted to become an actual grocery store,” says Josh. Soon, they added dairy products, bread, meat, and pantry items. These new entries, alongside their produce, cannabis and convenience items, make Ashdown Market a truly unique space in the city. They aim to provide the community with a middle-ground option, not quite a specialty food store but not a big-box grocery store either. They focus on local and affordable products at reasonable prices.
While the Ashdown Market team knew that a grocery store was needed in the Exchange, “What we didn’t predict was that people would fall in love with the brand so quickly.”
Since opening, Ashdown Market has become a neighbourhood hub, with residents of the Exchange frequently visiting. Josh believes it’s a space that brings people together whose paths might not usually cross.
“The part I love most about being in this business is that you get to community build,” says Josh. Ashdown Market is creating a community while increasing livability in the Exchange District. They provide access to fresh groceries without the need to leave the neighbourhood. Plus, they’re open from 8 a.m. through midnight, ensuring that early risers and night owls have ample time to grocery shop.
Josh loves the Exchange, and it was always a goal of his to have a business in this neighbourhood he calls home. “Downtown Winnipeg is a livable place,” says Josh, discussing the idea that livable downtowns aren’t reserved for bigger cities. He feels humbled by the opportunity to help build a downtown Winnipeg that is thriving and that people want to live in.
Ashdown Market has no plans to slow down. They’ve recently added grab-n-go offerings and ready-made meals like soup, sandwiches, and salads. Soon, they plan to sell beer and wine.
They feature local brands like Prism Kombucha, Nature’s Farm, Bothwell Cheese, Sheepdog Cold Brew, The Meat Company, De Nardi Foods, and Wolseley Kombucha, with plans to continue to add more local legends to that lineup.
Looking to the future, he’s excited to serve even more residents of the Exchange. Two new residential buildings are opening in the next few months, and more residential projects are coming in 2024, increasing population density and the need for a grocery store. Ashdown Market makes living in the Exchange that much easier.
Whether you need a few ingredients for dinner or a quick lunch on the go, make sure to stop by Ashdown Market at 171 Bannatyne Ave in the Exchange.
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