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Old 06-02-2011, 08:08 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
2,952 posts, read 2,044,959 times
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I thought it would be interesting to have a comparison between different grocery stores in the Triad, and discuss their selection, service, prices, etc.
Also, I have a few grocery stores on the list that used to be in the area but are no longer here, or that are in other parts of the state (i.e. Charlotte and Triangle). I've included some of the main larger stores and given my opinions, but I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks. If you happen to work at one of the chains that I haven't given as good of a review to, please don't take offense I'm only speaking in generalities. So here goes:

"MAINSTREAM" GROCERY STORES

Food Lion : The selection is basic and not overly fancy. The stores looks have improved some over the last few years (although that improvement isn't consistent in all stores- there are generally fewer stores that are run down and icky that there used to be), as they're kind of stuck in the middle between the more upscale grocers and places like Aldi's.
Prices are pretty good, but not always the cheapest (depending on their specials). Quality of their products is kind of middle of the road- not the best but not the worst. Their locations are convenient, and they seem to be distributed pretty well in different types of socio-economic neighborhoods. Service is just mediocre- not great, but usually not awful. The biggest advantage of this store is the layout is pretty logical, at least to me.

Harris Teeter: Some call these the "Taj Ma Teeter" (especially the one at Friendly Center in Greensboro that gets this nickname), and this upscale market is where their focus seems to be. They have a pretty wide selection of items compared to the other chain stores, and a pretty good prepared foods section. The produce is usually better than most, albeit really expensive. Overall, most products are more expensive than average, although they have a good selection of healthy yet tasty foods at a better price than Whole Foods. Service is usually above average, although there are occasional exceptions. This is one of the more pleasant shopping experiences, for those who can afford it. The disadvantage here (other than prices, which are higher than most) is the odd location of their carts and some of their products (peanut butter with the bread and not pickles, etc. like most stores). Also, while their stores used to be found in some working class areas, this is no longer the case, as they've generally targeted themselves to more upscale clientele.

Lowe's Foods These are perhaps trying to be a cross between a Food Lion and Harris Teeter. It's not my favorite, but they do have a little more selection that Food Lion. The prices on many of the items rivals or exceeds Harris Teeter (HT has better specials in my opinion), and they really don't have the offerings to justify that. Plus, I've noticed their milk tends to go bad sooner than the expiration date.

Kroger: The Triad no longer has Kroger (they used to be where some Harris Teeters are). They are about in the middle as far as price point, but have some of the bells and whistles of a larger super market (pharmacy, some had a cafe, etc.). They do have some good specials on their store brands when I'm over in the Raleigh area that I've stocked up on, and a good variety of store brand items. Service is okay, but not remarkable (I've had some good and not so good experiences there). Overall, I miss this store and wish we'd have these in the Triad again.

DISCOUNT STORES

Wal Mart: Their prices are typically pretty cheap on most things (but not all), they tend to sell items more in bulk, with items like cereal being a really good buy. While the size of the store may seem like they would have a large selection, in reality it's just large quantities of the same things (bins of red delicious apples but not a single red rome apple), 100 square feet filled with five different ketchup instead of 40 square feet filled with 20 different kinds of ketchup, etc. They do have some management/employee issues as their service is probably the most inconsistent, from really friendly cashiers to those that when greeted in a friendly way by a customer declare in a surly tone "I can't wait till I get out of this place" (I've always thought regardless of your position, you should try to maintain some professionalism when dealing with customers). But admittedly, the customers here are somewhat ruder than average. Unlike some of the more upscale grocers, they do embrace working class and rural areas in their store locations.

Aldi's: Some people really like this store, and they do have some bargains on just the basics (their prices being probably the best of all the other stores). I have been happy with the canned goods, and even found some good off the wall beer here before, but have had bad experience with their produce going bad very quickly. Also, their layout is weird where you can't cross over in the first aisle, but have to go all the way around, and it's usually pretty crowded. I like the quarter in the cart to keep these from going all over the lot by people too busy to be bothered with putting them back. Overall, though the shopping is relatively stressful here compared to the others, the clientele's manners' are worse than average, at least what I've seen, and the , and you bag or box your own groceries (which actually I don't mind too much).

Bottom Dollar: This is owned by Food Lion. It's similar to Aldi's, although they have a bigger store, good prices (not quite as good as Aldi's), and I've had better luck with their produce and other items than Aldi's, so it's a good value. They do have many items identical to Food Lion, and usually at a pretty good discount ($3.00 bag of apples instead of $4.00 for the exact same thing). They also sell some Hannaford brand items, which is a store that used to be in the Triad, but is no longer in this area (pretty good store brand with some items like cereals). They do tend to be more in working class areas, and while the layout and overall experience is a little better than Aldi's, they aren't kept up quite as well as when they first opened (about five years ago maybe).

Sav-A-Lot: The place just didn't look clean, prices didn't seem that great the one time I went to one, lots of processed and fewer fresh items, and one of the filthiest public restrooms I've ever encountered in a grocery store. I walked out without buying anything. I would rank this at the bottom. They generally seem to be located in some sketchier areas.

SPECIALTY GROCERY STORES

The Fresh Market: While their prices are generally high, for certain specialty items, they have a very interesting and high quality selection for a smaller store, plus really friendly and professional service and a very clean store. I don't shop here that often (mainly because of the price), but when I can as a treat, I've been very pleased. They only have a few stores in the Triad area though.

Trader Joe's: When Trader Joe's opened in the Triangle and Charlotte, everyone got starry eyed with enthusiasm. Seeing what all the fuss was about, I had to check it out. While I was thought the selection was pretty interesting for a small store, what was more impressive was the cleanliness of the store and restroom was about as spotless as I've seen in a grocery store, long after opening day. And the service was friendly and helpful.

I can't speak for Whole Foods or Earth Fare, although I think they would fit this category.

Regardless of my opinions here, in this economy, regardless of the shopping experience of stores, it's good to be thankful to be able to grocery shop anywhere.
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Old 06-02-2011, 08:45 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
28,626 posts, read 62,492,517 times
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I'm fine with WalMart for the boxed and packaged items and even a lot of the fresh produce...
but it would be real nice to have some more variety at the higher end in WS as I really detest the Teeter polices. Google just told me there is a Kroger on Robbinhood to check out. Is that not there now?

What I really want to find though is a good meat market in WS.
Ideally a real country butcher shop that at least breaks down whole sides...
if not the whole feedlot in the back truly fresh thing. Anyone?
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:11 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
2,952 posts, read 2,044,959 times
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Thanks for checking- I saw that, too! But i went to the street view, and it looks like it's been converted to a Peak Fitness .

Sorry I'm not as familiar with any butcher shops in WS, but hopefully someone will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRational View Post
Google just told me there is a Kroger on Robbinhood to check out. Is that not there now?

What I really want to find though is a good meat market in WS.
Ideally a real country butcher shop that at least breaks down whole sides...
if not the whole feedlot in the back truly fresh thing. Anyone?
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:30 PM
 
12,577 posts, read 13,346,462 times
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You claim you can't speak of Whole Foods but you make a comparison to Harris Teeter.
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:39 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
2,952 posts, read 2,044,959 times
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My experience with Whole Foods was so brief, I can't really elaborate on any particular aspect of it that struck me one way or another, but I got the impression it had some of the same qualities as Harris Teeter. Or maybe Earth Fare (which I've also been to once, but not frequently enough to really have a consistent impression of) as far as the emphasis on organic items is concerned. Maybe someone here can fill in those blanks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by WFW&P View Post
You claim you can't speak of Whole Foods but you make a comparison to Harris Teeter.
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Old 06-03-2011, 12:32 PM
 
54 posts, read 115,273 times
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IMO Whole foods has the best meat market by far, compared to the other stores mentioned. Also their produce is the best ...freshest vegetables and fruit. I have been very disappointed in HT's produce.
And , of course there is no comparison in the cheese dept.
We get canned and boxed things at Walmart, but for meat, produce and specialty items, we choose Costco and Whole Foods and HT for sonme frozen items.
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Winston-Salem
273 posts, read 852,094 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandnsea2 View Post
IMO Whole foods has the best meat market by far, compared to the other stores mentioned. Also their produce is the best ...freshest vegetables and fruit. I have been very disappointed in HT's produce.
And , of course there is no comparison in the cheese dept.
We get canned and boxed things at Walmart, but for meat, produce and specialty items, we choose Costco and Whole Foods and HT for sonme frozen items.
I'll second this statement. I was just going to post in regards to Costco as having good produce/cheese/frozen and bulk items. I was surprised at some of their cheese selections being pretty good, however, you have to like cheese since most come in 2lb blocks. For 3 people, 2 being vegetarians, our grocery list is about 40% Costco, 40% Whole Foods and 20% Walmart. Walmart is on the list just because it's the closest thing for the basics.

For the op's list, everything is pretty spot on description wise and I lament as well in not having a Kroger's or Trader Joe's nearby. I know it's a local brand, but if Food Lion were replaced by Kroger's tomorrow I wouldn't shed a tear, and probably jump for joy.

I'll comment on Whole foods and Earth Fare a little more.

Whole Foods: It is the place in WS for Organic produce, bulk grains and canned/boxed goods. The cheese and bakery is also a welcome treat. Their pricing on most other items is a little high, especially frozen items. We use Boca products and actually get them at Walmart because the price is about half what it is at Whole Foods and Earth Fare. They earned the nickname "Whole Paycheck" for a reason, but as a lot of their products become more mainstream, it has brought prices down. It also helps that they have their own "private label", Everyday 365, I think.

Earth Fare: Some may not agree with this statement, but it is essentially just Whole Foods. Just duplicate what I said for Whole Foods and it fits them just the same.
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Old 06-03-2011, 02:13 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
2,657 posts, read 7,199,739 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jowel View Post
Bottom Dollar: This is owned by Food Lion.
Actually - no, it's not.

Food Lion, Bloom, and Bottom Dollar fall under the Delhaize banner, which is a Belgium company. Our Markets




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Old 06-04-2011, 02:56 PM
 
Location: Winston-Salem
700 posts, read 1,440,420 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRational View Post
I'm fine with WalMart for the boxed and packaged items and even a lot of the fresh produce...
but it would be real nice to have some more variety at the higher end in WS as I really detest the Teeter polices. Google just told me there is a Kroger on Robbinhood to check out. Is that not there now?

What I really want to find though is a good meat market in WS.
Ideally a real country butcher shop that at least breaks down whole sides...
if not the whole feedlot in the back truly fresh thing. Anyone?
Kroger cut some deal with Harris Teeter. The store on Robinhood and others have been close for years. The Kroger's in Va. Seem to be these higher end. Not shopped them just a dash inside. Ingle's. There were a few around back in the day in Kins & Walnut Cove. The one in Walnut Cove is still open. The ones near Asheville seem to be nice with a great selection. Deli and meat counter.
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:30 PM
 
Location: Winston-Salem
700 posts, read 1,440,420 times
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Guess if I put things in an order...
1. Can Goods Wally Word
2. Meats Lowes, Harris Teeter, Kroger
3. Veggies Fresh Lowes, Food Lion, Kroger
4. Deli Lowes, Harris Teeter
5. Bakery Lowes, Harris Teeter

I would not buy meats or produce from Wally World. Food Lion not that great. Veggies are that Veggies. Fresh is better I get when in season from the local grower or the farmers market. I get.

The mass veg sellers. Are about every store. Even the ones that say " organic, home grown.." I will just look fro the best looking. It is what it is.

Organic. I still have not really bought into this pitch yet. If I grow it I trust it. If I know who grows it I trust it. If I get a from somewhere that I have never seen. By someone you do not know. I trust about as far as I just threw the ten ton weight beside me. If you do then you trust more that I do.
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