Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

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Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Mike Conner » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:40 am

So, our Knoxville market is getting more chains . . . so thought I'd ask the expert shoppers who post here their general feelings of each, and which is worthy of making a stop (or, more regular stops).

Our market is already served by Kroger (I like their sales and probably spend more there partly due to convenience of locations for the more mundane shopping needs), Food City (small-ish operator here in the southeast... decent stores, and I do shop here), Ingles (not sure how big a chain, and would likely shop a bit more than the once-twice a month I stop if there was a more convenient location to where I live/work), Fresh Market (becoming a larger chain who offers some items I prefer and has convenient location for me to shop at), Earthfare, another upscale/organic grocer I occasionally stop by at but don't spend that much given selection/pricing and finally, a one-off locally-owned store called Butler & Bailey which is kinda small, but about 1/2 mile away from my home, and has some nice meats (including prime), and a few other items I often buy here due to availability or pricing (many other items overpriced compared to other stores) and occasional good sale items. [how was that for a long run-on sentence?]

Oh - and grocery stores set-ups in a few Wal-Marts (only one semi-close but wrong "direction" from my normal travels and I'm not a huge fan of Wal-Mart in general so don't shop that much to become a fan), a Target store or two (I occasionally shop a nearby store for general items [and sales!] but it isn't official full grocery), and other chains such as Aldi who I've not yet shopped, a newly-opened GFS location (mainly a bulk grocer of their GFS label items that doesn't require paying for membership which I might stop more occasionally for those unusual items can't get at regular grocers) and the Sam's Club location (next to that Wal-Mart with grocery) -- I've never been able to justify membership, and less so now with some similar grocer items in GFS).

Note, our fine Tennessee laws forbid grocers from selling alcohol except for beer. :(

[well, beer if the locality allows it which most do - and while we have "dry" counties, that usually refers to wine/liquor, although there could be some areas that don't even do beer - not sure of all areas in our state.... one famous TN "dry" county is Morgan, where Jack Daniels is located... but they got a special state law that allows them to sell special "commemorative" bottles of Jack Daniels - but not on Sundays :? ]

There have been attempts to get wine in grocery stores through the legislature, but the entrenched interests (read:money) is on the "no wine in groceries" side for the moment. Might change with some Costco and other grocer chains now in town/Tennessee.

New stores/chains that are or will soon open that I'm looking for comments on:

Publix - first one in the area opened just yesterday, and I am curious to visit although it is also in the "wrong direction" of most of my travels although other stores nearby that I can justify traveling that way... and they've sent a coupon for $$ off! [there are also plans to open a medium-sized Publix that would be closer to my usual travel plans near where I work along with a small-sized Wal-Mart that won't have many grocery items (obviously) but which might get me to stop by more than the other location with grocery; not sure when this might happen as developer is still in the "early" stages.]

Trader Joe's - another first for the area - supposed to open a location not too far away in like 10 days - but it is gonna be small at 10,000 sq ft [always thought their locations larger? but have never been in one]

Costco - again, another first for our area (think there is location in Nashville and maybe Memphis). I've read a fair amount and am curious, but without wine, not sure if I'd pay membership (heck, even if they did have wine since my wine budget is tiny these days)... hoping they offer a "free" weekend when they open this late fall... but this too is "wrong direction" and in bad traffic area, although there is larger shopping area (more bad traffic!) with lots of stuff less than mile away that could make it a "hit occasionally" type visit if I could justify membership.

Whole Foods - (another first for the area) has said it plans to open its first Knoxville location closer to my travel ways, but they haven't yet started work on their supposed location, so guess it will be a while till it opens. I have stopped in an occasional Whole Foods (in particular in Ann Arbor when in town), and while probably not likely to be my top grocer I expect I would stop by now and then.

I am a fairly good shopper of "sales" for those items that can be stocked up or the more basic staple items, but don't mind doing a regular trip at other stores for my "favorites."

I think this covers most of the stores that are here and those who have or are soon to open.


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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Dale Williams » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:53 am

My take (of course based on individual stores)

Publix - not in my area, though I occasionally visit in GA, seems a tad more upscale than Kroger

Trader Joe's - TJs is good for some things - I visit occasionally and like for certain snack foods, frozen foods (their tarte d'Alsace is only frozen pizza I'll buy), dairy, nuts, orchids/flowers, etc . Meat is prepackaged, but some good sausage, and I used to occasionally buy bulgogi till an H Mart opened. But produce is not a winner, breads are so-so, lots of limited choices- definitely not a place you can one-stop
Costco - I have amembership for business, not sure I could justify on own. Good prices for paper goods (though probably could match in other stores with a sharp eye for sales), but meat is very good, including some nice prime steaks. At ours they have periodic "seafood festivals" with good buys on snow crab, etc. Much grocery store is just in too big quantities for me.

Whole Foods - not called Whole Paycheck for nothing, but some of the 365 products are excellent quantity and not so expensive, nice produce, bread. Meat and seafood good but terrible pricing.
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Howie Hart » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:02 am

Aldi's has good prices on their own brands and meats, which are pretty good. There's one close to me, but I seldom go there because you have to use a quarter to unlock a shopping cart, which you get back after shopping and they have no bags. I have trouble getting used to that kind of stuff.
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Carrie L. » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:03 am

Wow Mike, lucky you! You already have my favorite store by far (Fresh Market) and are getting several other really good ones.

Publix is a Florida store. Since I'm from there, I've shopped in them my whole life. There are some good things about them. The bakery is especially good. One negative is that they pre-package most of their produce, so, say, if you want only two zucchini, you have to buy a pkg of four unless you can hunt down a produce guy to rewrap for you. At least that's the way it used to be. Word on the street is the store tends to be a little expensive.

Costco is great. Even if you don't own a restaurant or have a large family. We buy most of our meat from there when we are in CA. We are lucky to have one ten minutes away from us. Their products are always high end so you never have to hestitate to buy something thinking you aren't getting a good value. Great wine selection also!

It took me some time to warm up to Trader Joe's but I'm getting there. It's great for people who live alone or really don't like to cook. They have loads of frozen pre-made entrees, appetizers, desserts, etc. They also a pretty awesome selection of nuts and snacks.

Whole Foods? It's okay, but would much rather shop at Fresh Market. It's bent is more holistic-minded for sure. Large health-food and health and beauty products section. Excellent bakery and hot-prepared food section if you don't feel like cooking and just want to pick up something hot to take home. I recently reported on the amazing Farmed Norwegian Salmon in their seafood case. Excellent. Len doesn't like WF because a clerk made him feel like a jerk once when he asked where he could find the Diet Coke. :roll:

P.S. We love Knoxville. Have stayed there for a week or so the past two years (in the Turkey Creek area) while having our RV repaired. It's a great place to be stranded!
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Karen/NoCA » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:46 am

We love Costco. They have great meat, scallops, shrimp in bags already cleaned, tail on and several sizes. We buy most our paper products there. We have a business membership and usually go every two months. It is easy to spend a lot of money. Our purchases consist of the seafood I mentioned above, fresh fish when in season, paper products, vitamins, and other supplements, some personal grooming products, and some cleaning products. Other items, like breads, tortillas, crackers, cereals, etc. all come in much larger amounts than we want to have on hand. I never buy any of the commercially prepared frozen foods.

Trader Joe's is not a large store. I do not care for the produce, but buy cheese, some of the marinated meats, yogurt, wine, frozen croissants, their nuts and dried fruits section is awesome, organic coconut oil, jarred salsa, hearts of palm and whole artichoke hearts, some jarred peppers. They have loads of prepared frozen foods, but I have not found any I would buy again. I have not tried many, however.

Never shop for food at Target or Wal-mart.

Mainly I shop at two or three local markets. There is a local meat shop which custom cuts and you pick you meat out of a huge glass case and they custom wrap. When I am in their part of town, I stock up. Right now the local Farmer's Markets get most of my money.
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Carl Eppig » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:52 pm

Trader Joe's is moving into our area, but haven't hit them yet. We have a full service Walmart, but seldom shop for food, beer or wine there.

Our Whole Food market is about 45 miles away in Portland, ME. We get there six or seven times a year, and shop other venues while there as well. There are some things that we can only get at Whole Foods, and value them for this reason. Their produce is aways top drawer and I love being able to get heirloom tomatoes from Mexico in the middle of winter that are unblemished, ripe, and juicey. Their wine selection is outstanding and not as pricey as other products. There is a great selection of goat and sheep products which is great for us because True Love can't eat cow products. We also like many of their 365 products including white chocolate chunks (made with cocoa butter), and oils. We always keep their 365 Grape Seed Oil on hand.
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Rahsaan » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:09 pm

Much depends on the individualistic quirks of how you eat and shop!

Of the places you mentioned, I only patronize Whole Foods. And I shop there for the same reason that other people eat at McDonalds: you always know what you're going to get and it's the same across the country. It just so happens that WF is more my gastronomical demographic than McDonalds. It is expensive, but as others have mentioned if you shop carefully you can find good deals.

But, when possible, I try to buy as much as possible at the farmer's market and local groceries, etc.
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:33 pm

The only shop on that whole list that is near me is Trader Joe's. Like many others, I do targeted shopping there: organic chicken, nut meats, one particular kind of cracker, shallots (they sell them by the bag). I have tasted some of the frozen foods; some are passable.
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Jenise » Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:24 pm

Costco: it's easy to get hooked. Although like Dale we find a lot of the quantities on some things we might otherwise buy prohibitive, we do buy all of certain staples we use there: bird seed, cat litter, tooth brushes, razor blades for Bob, some vitamins/supplements, toilet paper, paper towels, most cleaning products, printer ink, fresh goat cheese, parmesan (Emilio Romano) and avocados (we eat one a day), and on those regular items alone it doesn't take long at all to earn our membership back. We visit about once a month. It's also invaluable for stocking up on good quality products at low-low prices for the kind of major entertaining we help do with several neighborhood clubs. Their pharmacy prices have no equal, often half or less than traditional pharmacies. And though I'm pretty religious about eating only organic chicken, have to admit their hot-off-the-rotisserie chickens are also excellent for days when you're too busy to cook.

Whole Foods: Totally worth it for the fresh meat case and produce. I find unusual things there I never see anywhere else. Spendy, though.

Trader Joe's: Dale pretty much described my view on it, though in the bread department I have to call out their flatbread stuff, like fresh lavash, best-ever-for-tacos 'hand-made' thick corn tortillas and good array of gluten-free stuff for the kind of person who has to mind that. Exemplary for dry nuts and fruits. 10,000 sf is about normal for their stores, btw, they're smaller than the average grocer.
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Mike Conner » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:27 pm

Thanks all. Helps me to have some advance info before I step into any of these new stores.

I should have mentioned that I too do a fair amount of farmer's market shopping as getting fresh always beats what can be found in the stores.

Also, we do have a co-op grocery store that I am a member of, which last year grew considerably in size and offerings since they moved into a new location. While many of their offerings can be pretty expensive, it does have some things worthy of the out-of-the-way trip.

Again, thanks!


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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Rus Plummer » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:28 pm

LOVE Aldi.....I buy a lot of WINE there! :D
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Mike Conner » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:18 pm

Guess I should follow up . . . I stopped in Publix for fist time last week, and found some things to like. A nicely set-up store (of course, helps when it is brand new). And, found one favorite item they stock that none of our other grocery store chains do (Pepperidge Farm Golden Butter Distinctive Crackers - great IMO with all sorts of things), so I will likely be making occasional trips to Publix. Not overwhelmed by their meat selection, but I didn't really spend time there checking things out. And, less excited by their baked goods (at least for anything I look for).

Will shortly stop into Trader Joe's to check it out.

Unfortunately for us in Tennessee, no wine in grocery stores (although they keep trying! - but money is on the wrong side at this point.).

Thanks again,

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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:10 pm

Mike Conner wrote:Unfortunately for us in Tennessee, no wine in grocery stores (although they keep trying! - but money is on the wrong side at this point.).

Mike, I don't know if this would work in Tennessee, but in Louisville, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Kroger, CostCo and World Market have found a workable hack: They frame out a corner of the store for the wine shop, build no doorways between groceries and wine, but create a new outside door for the wine corner, so people have to go out of the grocery, walk next door and go back in the wine shop. On the floor plan it's in the building, but from the human standpoint, it's not "in the grocery," so the law is satisfied. :mrgreen:
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Mike Conner » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:27 pm

Hey Robin!

Part of Tennessee's rules state that a single state resident ONLY can be "owner" of retail location license (and definitely no corporate owners - although I guess there can be minority ownership). So, if there is more than one Costco, only one currently can offer wines (I've heard rumors that Costco in Nashville sells wines). And, like many states, must buy from distributor ONLY.

Lots of stupid protectionist rules here backed by money interests.


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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Paul Winalski » Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:07 pm

Our local Trader Joe's recently moved from Tyngsboro, Massachusetts a few tenths of a mile across the border into Nashua, New Hampshire. The main benefit of the new location is that NH allows beer and wine to be sold in grocery stores whereas it's restricted to package stores in MA.*

-Paul W.

* Actually, Massachusetts does allow a liquor licenses (needed for beer and wine as well as hard liquor) for grocery stores, but chains such as TJ's can only get such licenses for two or three locations.
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Re: Grocery Store chains, etc. (looking for info)

Postby Mike Conner » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:11 pm

Ahhhh... the wine/liquor store dance.

While I'm sure that happens here, for those of us who are "state-locked" have little options. A good commute for us to VA (one state I know that allows wine in grocery stores). If I lived in Bristol, TN.....


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