The impact of foreign goods, migrants and even refugees are part of the every local economy and adds to growth of that market. It’s no secret that foreigners can add diversity to thriving sectors, and can help create niches that did not exist.

A recent article by Fortune, positively notes that Toronto is home to a thriving Syrian food scene. The impact of the 6000 refugees that Canada took in, as part of the Syrian conflict, is what’s bringing more diversity to food options for Torontonians.


Food has a way of uniting people, as a foreigner takes refuge in another country, the preparation of food is a way to remember the taste, smell and the way of life back in your home country before your way of life was disturbed. Syrian refugees are not only far from home but they have a language barrier. Thus, as those contemplating how to find work, they are turning to opening their own businesses.


Retailers can learn from foreigners


As retailers continue to face competition from technology disruptions, new industries and the latest retail trends it’s important to be creative and innovative in how you serve the market. Take for example the Livelihood Project.

This project was created to help Syrian refugees. Their mission is to train them in skills that are transferrable.  Since they opened their doors in October 2016, the Livelihood Project has had just over 50 refugees graduated from their training program.


The Project runs a Not-For-Profit café that is 66% staffed by Syrian refugees. The café is located in Kensington market at the heart of downtown Toronto. Their staff serves Syrian food while they work to build a viable life in Canada. The project states that half of their earnings are reinvested into the employees and to date, their 52 employees have made close to CAD $500,000 in earnings.


Retailers who are searching for an innovative solution to keep business thriving should take note.  There are opportunities in niches. Being original and modern in how you serve your target customer base will set you apart from other businesses.




Foreigners naturally see things differently, due to their cultural and regional differences. The way retail works in their home countries are different and so they are able to find a niche market that is underserve and target them.


Furthermore, foreigners due to language barrier are likely to invest in starting their own business, versus searching for work in a system that they may or may not understand. As retailers search for tenants to fill vacancy they should consider the foreigners who have been able to successfully attract and build a customer base that includes people from their homelands and other Canadians with the interest in exotic cuisine.


If you have a retail concept and are in search for retail real estate opportunities, contact ReDev today.


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