Time to start a non pet peeve thread.
I go into my local market to order ground beef .
They know me well . I say this much as i cup my hand to the gal . Meaning around a half a pound .It doesn’t have to be exact . She laughs and says that is so cool . Its become the norm .
Time to start a non pet peeve thread.
The Safeway here is expensive… items are out of stock more often than I’d like… but they have a good deli counter, meat counter, bakery, and pharmacy… along with free delivery and curbside pickup. This in a small mountain town where the next closest market is 20+ miles away.
So, things you like about your favorite store?
I’m really grateful that I live in the opposite of a food desert. Within 2 miles of my home, in different directions, are 2 large general supermarkets (HEB), a Super Target, a grocery wholesaler that sells to the public and a Costco, Whole Foods, Aldi, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, a Chinese grocery, a Southeast Asian grocery, 2 Indian groceries, a small Mexican grocery and meat market, a Middle Eastern and halal store, plus a store concept that’s part grocery-part takeout-part wine shop. And on weekends there’s a small farmers market.
If I extend out another 5 miles, there’s a Korean store, 2 more large Hispanic groceries plus a handful of Hispanic (mostly Mexican) bakeries and specialty shops, an old-time country store, a local butcher shop that also specializes in sausages or will prepare animals you’ve hunted, plus 2 Krogers (aka Ralphs) and both a large Walmart and a small grocery-only Neighborhood Walmart.
An abundance of choices and competitive prices. Except kaffir lime leaves… for some reason, that can’t be found for a reasonable price since the pandemic - that goes in the pet peeve list, I guess!
People really don’t understand how important small personal interaction is in big markets. Recognizing, greeting and making small talk (that doesn’t hold up other customers) goes a long way in creating a bond that benefits both sides. This morning we were cruising produce in our fave Grocery Outlet and were warmly greeted by our favorite checker (although it would be hard to choose) en route to her break. When we finally entered her lane, she exclaimed, “Wow! You’re still here.” Then casing our purchases she asked, “You come about once a week, no?” Who needs big brother tracking! When we left, we were greeted by the “bouncer”, and royally acknowledged by the resident homeless whose dog we support. Community,
Digital Coupons… OMG!! I really enjoy digital coupons. My local Safeway has some GREAT weekly specials on digital. Last week it was Pork Chops for 67 cents/pound, this week is corn on the cob – 8 ears for $1.00.
Sunshine loves corn on the cob, I can make four lunches for her for $1.00 – what a deal!!
It really does help with meal planning… OK (blank) is on sale, now how many different ways can I serve it. That doesn’t mean everything I make is a win, there are some failures mixed in.
This is why I try to go to a couple (well 3) family owned markets. I know everyone. It really enhances the experience, and builds a customer base. But I also know some cashiers in Wegmans - I try to find their lines just to say hi - especially after we hadn’t seen each other for a long time because of the pandemic.
When our Wegmans first opened its doors, not only did it provide the highest quality products and a much better selection of international foods than other stores in town, but you could also sample damn near any of the stuff they prepare in-store, i.e. any of several shrimp/seafood salads they used to sell, or main dishes like stuffed turkey breast or other seasonal items. Joe The Meat Guy would be chatting us up about his Italian heritage, Paula knew her shit about the cheeses, and we’d often make a tiny lunch out of the different sample stations. Neither of them work there anymore, but I still find the staff to be very helpful and friendly.
I fondly remember a big ole truffle sitting right there out in the open for a hot minute until it was locked behind plexiglass.
As for other supermarkets near us… I like the special themed weeks Aldi does, like German or Italian week where one can purchase stuff usually only available on the interwebs (e.g. Erdnussflips or high quality pasta). Our giant makes a killer guac that is easily as good as mine, and I’ve heard great things about their fried chicken and other prepared foods.
TJ’s friendly staff can be a bit overwhelming at times, but I do appreciate a nice (if short) exchange in a time where people seem to mostly be angry and yelling at one another (pssst - I’m one of them ).
I also got to interact with a LOT of supermarket staff during my pandemic stint as an Instacart working drone, so I still have good rapport with many of the folks working at Wegmans & Giant.
There is literally an article on the front page of the LA Times today on this topic. Data from that article: Lots of people like those personal interactions but 66% of respondents said they choose a self-service kiosk over human-run checkout. Not surprisingly, sharp generational divide with 84% of gen z’ers preferring self-checkout vs. 46% of boomers.
I am loving a couple of markets in LA at the moment:
Jon’s, a local family owned chain that (at least at the location we go to) specializes in Eastern European items in the deli area, canned products, and frozen. Just bought some eggplant spread from Armenia, frozen pelmeni, and German pumpernickel bread yesterday. Produce section is adequate.
Sprouts, they’re a national chain but the one in the south bay is where we’ve been shopping. Great produce and bulk section. I think there is one back home in the DMV but I’ve never made the trek to the far western 'burbs to visit.
Grocery Outlet. Bargain prices, extremely friendly staff and, per a friend of my mom’s, a very knowledgeable wine buyer. I picked up a$6.99 bottle of Yolo County malbec the other day as a belated birthday gift for my sister, who was born in Yolo County.
Yeah, small talk isn’t for everyone. A friendly greeting and ‘did you find everything’ is good customer service, but being able to tell who does or doesn’t want to talk about their day and their plans for their produce is even better.
My closest grocer is 3 block from home, locally owned, super clean & friendly, great selection & quality. I go to TJ or GO for lower prices but West Seattle Thriftway wins on overall selection and quality.
I find “did you find everything” lame at checkout. Do you stop the line while you run back to find missed items? Have the checker call an associate to bring them to checkout? Start over after you pay for current items?
assuming the person using the self-checkout knows how to use the self checkout. I watched a woman last week mess up so badly that staff had to come over and scan/ check out every item for her. You know, like a regular check out line.
At TJs, if you didn’t find something or forgot item, they have someone go find it or get it for you while you continue with checkout.
I never took them up on it for a long time, but then one of the folks there explained to me that because of the way their checkout is designed, a single customer can’t hold up people “behind them” because the next open register goes to the next person in line. I don’t take them up on it unless I’ve forgotten an ingredient for the meal I’m about to make or an item was labeled but not stocked and there was no staff around to ask. Otherwise I’ll just make a note to get what I forgot next time.
The best part of the supermarket I frequent is that it has really cold air conditioning.
This is important. To me.
I personally avoid them due to that and because checkers can almost always do it faster/better than I can. Also, I’m a talker. And don’t get me started on the self checkout stations at Costco…
I live in a resort town, in a larger resort valley.
We have two ‘grocery stores’, a good sized Safeway and another large, regional ‘budget’ chain market. We also have two ‘mini marts’ that have convenience foods and what they claim as ‘fine’ wine ). Definitely tourist catered to and driven. I appreciate the larger markets being open 24 hours. There are two ‘healthy’ food stores that have wonderful selections of local and organic products. We have a seasonal farmer’s late afternoon market during the week that is more of a peddler’s market (hand made jewelery, pottery, etc.) than a farmer/rancher display and many food and edible treats vendors. So, there are many choices in this little burg, too many choices, for me.
I appreciate the smaller markets having some items that cannot be found in the larger markets. I want to be able to do less travelling for my purchases. I do have a favorite checker at the chain market and I know the store manager well, and they know me. Last year when I had surgery, I was able to have my cart taken to my car and my loaded on my first venture out in the world post surgery. That wouldn’t happen in any other shop here. Turnover of staff is a problem and they have who they have working there. Safeway is fantastic for some items and I will purchase there, even though the prices are higher. Not quite apples to apples, but imho, I think there should be better parity in pricing, say in their house brand products. The staff is very friendly and helpful, but there is a constant turnover of the crew. I like Safeway’s self check because it will accept cash, no other self checks do in this area.
Down the road 24 miles, there are two more large chain grocery stores, three more healthy stores (one a regional chain), a ‘farmers’ market on a weekend day morning at least 2 Staryuks and a plethora of box stores. I will visit Costco only once a month if I have to, being mindful of trip linking. The dotter and I will split Costco purchases when we shop, often on separate outings, so sometimes I won’t have to go there.
No food desert here at all, however, one can spend a lot of time shopping and getting everything done in what I’d prefer to do in just a bit if time, like an hour, not many hours.
For me, there are just too many places to shop, and even then I’m not finding everything I want, the way I want it. Sigh.
I would kill just for the HEB. LOVE that store. But, the one I go to is in Houston, TX, and that is 1,231 miles from my home. Maybe I’ll just jump in the jet when I need to stock up. My pilot ain’t afraid to hit the gas.
Instead of the big guys, the little ones by me are my love. Foss’s Meat Locker- Mike is my butcher. I tend to shop early and he opens at 8:30, so, when I go in, he has a few seconds to BS with me. Often he’ll give me a fresh NC dog out of the smoker while I wait. The way to this man’s heart. Last center cut pork chops I bought there ($2.50/lb) were so good I ate a whole in the plate. Every piece of meat I have every purchased from him has been excellent. He hires HS kids who are as friendly as can be, and just laid back. It’s the smell, though, the heavenly smell of that fresh meat, sausage being made, smoker room. I could stand there all day and take it in.
Pasture Pride Cheese- Kevin is the owner and master cheesemaker. I should have said Saint kevin, as he and his family, have taken on kids from my school that needed a first job, despite having this or that setback. Kevin gets 'em working and making cheese is surprisingly satisfying and the antithesis of anxiety for many HS aged kids. His cheeses are amaze, especially the Muenster. He also has an “ends” section where his cheese ends sell for $2.25/lb. If you love Muenster rinds, you can get them in abundance for super cheap. he also makes a specialty cheese he was contracted from a Brazilian company to make. Juusto (OOST -oh) is to be eaten fresh, microwaved for 10-12 seconds and consumed. With maple syrup for dipping, it blows my mind. It’s a baked cheese, so it has brown marks from that. Again, the briny smell of cheese just wafts and makes me want to close my eyes to take it all in. Plus, I go into a place where everyone that works there had me as a teacher or counselor; so it’s like walking into Cheese Cheers. “Stritch!” Easy to patronize stores owned by people you like, respect and consider friends.