SF area grocery store prices

I had not been to my favorite butcher in SF (Bryan’s at California/Laurel) in a couple of years because they are only carrying prepackaged chicken now. They still have a big array of meat and fresh fish. Since I’m picky about ground meat, I went here to buy 2 lbs of ground chuck, $9 lb, same as Gus, another butcher.

The store had all new employees, very few customers, fish didn’t look as perfect as before.

I glanced around at their produce: the bunch of organic carrots with greens still attached is $3 at 22nd Avenue Market, Safeway and Whole Foods; here it’s $5!

Their skirt steak is $23 lb, only $15 lb at Whole Foods. Their organic garlic is $13 lb !!!, at Whole Foods half that.

Next stop was Trader Joe on Masonic; as usual, took about 10 minutes to pull into parking lot, store was swamped (a Monday). Every day, I like TJ more and more.

I don’t buy everything at Bryan’s but am willing to pay for their meat and fish. I haven’t noticed their “packaged chicken”. They also usually sell “exotic” mushrooms below CalMart. I eschew the central aisles, aka packaged goods, at most markets, stocking up at Walmart when possible.

Bryan’s and Cal-Mart sold chanterelles for $39 lb. I like maitake and WF has for $15 lb.

Bryan’s Grocery …



For the amount Bryans charges I hope the employees are getting paid bank, as the kids say.

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You are aware that Amazon owns WF? Safeway bought local Andronico’s some years back.
Bryan’s and CalMart have been locally/family owned since their inceptions. So is Gus’s Markets as well as newer Bi-Rite.
Maybe doesn’t matter to you, or maybe does. When possible I try to leave as much of my buck in the community. Also aware that these stores shop directly at the Product Market rather than order from regional commissaries/warehouses.


I know before they were in the Union. I wondered if they were still, all new faces.

A lot of the “new faces” in Bryan’s are replacements for early employees who have retired. We lost my favorite fishmonger at the end of last year. Peter, co-founder and co-owner, is in the store daily at 79.
I remember him as a teenager.

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Yes, I saw Peter stocking containers of olives when I was there; he looks great, not old looking.

The fish doesn’t look as perfect as before.

I don’t know why they only stock prepackaged chicken.

It’s my sense that they are selling premium Mary’s Air Chilled and comparable chicken which often/usually are individually sealed in plastic which helps retain freshness/viability as opposed to chickens that come in waxed cartons holding dozens of birds, cheek by jowl. Have never asked them.

Gus, WF and Guerra don’t have prepackaged.

Correct. Nor does Richmond Mai Wah on Clement or most other ethnic markets, and most other free-standing butcher shops, just pull birds out of large cartons. i.e., given Bryan’s intended perception, there must be a reason they leave their high end poultry in its original wrap.

In all the years I shopped there, they had a fresh chicken section. This changed about 4 - 5 years ago.

I would never buy chicken etc at a butcher where there’s a bad smell. Ranch 99, New May Wah not for me … I only buy produce, noodles or soy sauce etc there.

Where do the chickens in the box come from? A lot of people like whole chickens, heads and feet, both the French and Chinese. Whole chickens usually aren’t packaged in vacuum sealed plastic. They come in a large box because less packaging (and waste), from the source. Adding packaging isn’t even traditional, more of convenience in the modern US food system. Branded and packaged doesn’t necessarily make the chicken better than others. Some might argue packaging can mask quality and is unnatural.

In any case, fresh chickens in Chinatown and ethnic markets might not have the fancy brand (and packaging) but I wouldn’t assume they were of lesser quality. Fresh chickens from Chinese markets were considered superior to many way before air chilled, free range, branding, etc., and some still regard these as better…way before the past 20 years. Depending on the market and source, many still prefer these chickens “from the box” because they’re in line with traditional chickens…smaller, not bred to produce ginormus breasts, traditionally processed, not vacuum sealed.

Note: some chickens in Chinese markets now come in loose, unsealed plastic bags, as a convenience to customers, i.e., grab and go. Mostly these are packaged at the butcher shop, i.e., they took them out of the box and put then in plastic bag.


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I suggest asking next time you are in your store. As you say, chickens come from many areas and are of many qualities.

I am curious about this statement.

Without debating the normative aspect, I am just curious whether it’s even factually accurate.

Does a large conglomerate grocery chain (i.e. Safeway, Vons, or even Whole Foods) not keep money “in the community”?

Do they bus in their employees from far away counties? Like perhaps Sacramento? Or maybe even LA County?

And do none of the people “in the community” not own stocks of Safeway or Whole Foods (via Amazon) either directly or indirectly through index funds or 401k plans?

And the hyperlocal stores, or the more vernacular “mom and pop” stores, do they actually keep as much of their profits “in the community” as one would think or assume? Are the Flannerys (they of the Bryan Market ownership), do they actually keep their profits “in the community”? Do we know this for a fact? Aside from paying their employees, who I assume are not bussed in from Sacramento or LA County, how much of the Bryan Market, Flannery Beef and Flannery Seafood profits are actually kept “in the community”?


Haven’t a clue. So let me rephrase. I have a deep and many decades long relationship with the Flanneries as well as CalMart’s Gianpolis. Their level of product and service were a cut above the chains. I stocked my first apartment from CalMart, and I watched the current generation learn the businesses while they were in high school. I bought all of my meat form the elder Flannery when he was at Grant Market, downtown. I have no such attachment to any of the chains.

YMMV. As they say, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

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The majority owners, e.g. Jeff Bezos, have to make some money. That’s when the money leaves the community unless they live nearby and spends most of their money around here. And they have so much money that they really don’t need to spend much compared to how much they earn from their investments.

Yeah, they leave the original wrap and packaging because it’s branded and they can and do charge more. You’re a bit foolish if you believe branded packaging makes it better, even as perception.

I don’t disagree with that.

In fact, that’s arguably indisputable.

My only point was that large grocery chains like Amazon do keep some money “in the community”.

Having the owners make money and spend it elsewhere and keeping money “in the community” are not necessarily mutually exclusive.