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A video circulating on Reddit shows someone verbally assailing customers inside a Montreal IGA. The at-times incoherent rant by a customer at a checkout counter includes racist rhetoric targeting people of Asian descent.
"It's about all of this 21 months of bullshit [...] all of this fucking epidemic who became a pandemic, it's because of you Chinese people," the individual shouts in the video, appearing to point at someone out of view of the camera.
They tuck their mask under their chin until someone asks them to put it back over their mouth.
Several people appear to try to intervene over the course of the two-minute video. The customer responds with an expletive, an obscene gesture, mocking and name-calling.
They appear to even raise the possibility of legal action, telling one person that their "family has one of the best lawyers in Montreal."
The video ends as the individual and what looks like an IGA employee withdraw to another part of the checkout area.
"I will never respect all this bullshit going on," the customer can be heard saying.
"You don't respect nothing," the probable employee responds.
The context of the incident, including events that occurred before and after the Reddit video, is unclear. The identity of the person who took the footage is also unclear.
MTL Blog has thus far been unable to identify the customer in the video to reach out for a comment on this story.
A manager at the IGA Louise Ménard on Montreal's Île des Soeurs confirmed that the incident took place inside their store.
In a statement shared with MTL Blog, a representative for the store said management was "incredibly disheartened and upset by the customer's disrespectful behaviour." They said employees asked the customer to leave and contacted local authorities.
"At IGA, we denounce all forms of hate. This is never acceptable," the rep said.
Known for stocking an array of pan-Asian products, from Filipino sinigang soup to Korean gochujang sauce, the company has announced its intention to open a location somewhere on the Island of Montreal sometime in 2023 and is looking to hire over 300 workers.
And though it's owned by the Loblaws grocery store colossus, T&T Supermarket remains a family business.
It was founded in Vancouver in 1993 by Cindy Lee, a Chinese immigrant, who named it after her daughters, Tiffany and Tina, its current CEO, who started with the company as a grocery bagger and took the reins when her mother retired in 2014.
"I do have a brother, his name is Jason, but TT&J just doesn't sound as nice," she told MTL Blog.
Breaking into a new market is a tough test in the life of any business, said Lee, but T&T sees promise in Montreal as "it's the second-largest city in the country with a decent Asian population."
"We knew that we had a following that lived in Montreal because on the weekends we would often see a lot of Quebec licence plates at our store in Ottawa, like they would take the two-hour drive to our closest store and stock up," she said.
As this will be its first store in Quebec, the company stated it "will ensure the respect of the provincial laws and regulations in force with respect to the French language, in terms of signage, communications with employees and customers, and advertising."
"This also applies to the packaging of all products that will be sold in our stores which will need to have a bilingual label," it noted in an emailed statement. "T&T can count on the support and expertise of Loblaws, which already operates many stores in Quebec."
Shopping at a T&T Supermarket is more than a typical trip to the grocery store, "it's an experience," said Lee.
"When you walk into a T&T store, I want to smack you in the face with freshness and abundance and amazing ingredients that you couldn't buy at your typical Metro," she said.
The store will carry hard-to-find and exotic fruits, vegetables and fresh mushrooms, she said.
There's also an in-store bakery, a feature Lee hopes Montrealers will enjoy. "I highly recommend people test our bakery cakes because they're less sweet than the typical supermarket cake and they're fresh-made daily."
Other conveniences include hot food stations offering everything from Chinese barbecue to bao sandwiches and a seafood department with "a row of fish tanks that have enough water in them to fill your backyard swimming pool," Lee explained.
No visit is complete without some iconic Asian snacks and the T&T plentiful chip aisles abound with unique flavours. There are, for instance, scallop-flavoured chips, salted egg yolk chips, wasabi chips and crab chips, but that’s just scratching the surface, said Lee.
The company is also getting an early start with recruiting and training the store's management team.
Lee said they're looking for people with grocery retail experiences, "plus, I really would like to hire a management team that speaks French and has a passion to discover Asian flavours."
Recruits will have to go through a long training process at an existing T&T store — the nearest to Montreal is in Ottawa.
"I think this is what is difficult about crossing into new provinces with new languages," said Lee.
As the store opens, the company will hire over 300 people to join the team.
"We also want to open up our sourcing to local vendors," said Lee. "There are lots of smaller Asian food manufacturers that are located in Quebec that we have yet to connect with, so we very much are open for them to reach out to us and introduce themselves."