BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
Gary Gibbs came to Toronto twenty years ago from Jamaica where he was into farming, growing natural and organic root vegetables. When he arrived here in Canada, he found himself craving products from back home and so one day he went into a local grocery store that claimed to market to the West Indian community. When he asked for the products he desired he found that although they were marketing to the Caribbean community, they had no idea what products he was asking for. Gary was disappointed that they were promoting the sale of West Indian products yet they had no knowledge of the groceries that he inquired about.
He quickly realized that many stores he visited that sold groceries from the Caribbean had very little familiarity of the needs of the West Indian Community. While they might have carried some products, they didn’t carry them all and there were people who sought to purchase these items especially if they were preparing a good old fashion home cooked meal.
Gary found that it difficult to work for an employer here in Canada. He found it challenging to work with people, as he felt they weren’t able to see you for what you were really worth. Back home in Jamaica, he had been an avid farmer and he was also in retail running a clothing store. He made the decision to combine both of his skill sets to open his own West Indian grocery store and cater to all the needs of the community. His hope was to create a unique establishment where the Caribbean diaspora could come and get everything they needed, without the hassle. As a citizen of the islands Gary’s knowledge would be useful for consumers who came to inquire about certain products, especially those who travelled there on vacation and came searching for something they had only had the chance to sample while in the islands.
Located at 1872 Kennedy Road in Scarborough, Gibbos is a one stop shop for all of your island favourites including food, groceries, spices, canned goods, roasted breadfruit, freshly cut calaloo and much more. They carry a variety of diverse and organic products that are healthier for the local consumer because they are allowed the appropriate amount of time to grow and mature before harvesting. Many vegetables take around nine months when they are grown in the Caribbean and the atmosphere is an environment where they are able to thrive.
At Gibbos they strive to cater only the freshest products from the Caribbean and organize many shipments of the essential goods the community requires. Every week two to four shipments come from the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Grenada and various parts of South America. Gary explains that it is a lot more cost effective to import products from the Caribbean and it is more economical when selling them back to consumers in Canada.
Gary says that there are many challenges involved in running your own business and he feels that a lot of it stems down to the funding that he isn’t receiving due to personal credit. Gary justifies that his small business shouldn’t be affected, but instead treated as a separate entity. Having more money to invest in the business, he would like to work on making the place look a lot more upscale through renovations increasing the possibility of drawing in more clientele.
In addition to the West Indian Grocery, Gibbos has a take-out counter where they serve hot and ready meals, prepared while you shop! Their menu caters many Caribbean classics including: Ackee and Saltfish, Calaloo and Saltfish, Curry Chicken, Stew Chicken, Fry Chicken, Jerk Chicken, Curry Goat, Oxtail, Stew Beef, Stew Peas, Cow Foot and Kingfish, amongst anything you find yourself craving from the West Indies. Gibbos offers catering for all occasions and they are equipped with convenient Jamaica National Money Transfer and Digicel top up for those who wish to send money or minutes to loved ones back home.
In the future they hope to further expand their business selling lotteries, bus tokens and other conveniences of everyday shoppers to make their experience at Gibbos the best it can be. Gary enjoys running the joint operation of having a grocery and take-out restaurant in one because of the accessibility to his customers. Many people within the area walk to the store from their homes and they shouldn’t have to make multiple stops to get all of the things they need.
At Gibbos they try to stay competitive with their prices and their friendly staff is always close at hand to help with anything you might need. They understand the needs of their customers and recognize that all they want is a reliable place where they can purchase their Caribbean products while receiving great customer service. Gibbos is very thankful for the support of the community and at the end of every summer they host a community BBQ and invite the public to come out and enjoy some tasty BBQ, great music, family fun and relaxing vibes.
Gibbos is open seven days a week bringing all of the flavors of the Caribbean right to your door, with flavorful spices and West Indian delicacies and that are made fresh daily to satisfy your taste buds! Head on down to Gibbos today and let them provide you with a shopping experience to remember!