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Sunday, January 31, 2010

THINGS WE LIKE - Grocery Stores

We live just down the street from the headquarters of Trader Joe's.  This is close to the perfect market (so far the absolute perfect market has eluded me).  Fresh produce, high quality meat, gourmet products, large wine & beer selection, full liquor department (where local laws allow), and much more in a small, user friendly space.  Oh, and they're always giving away food and drink samples.  And one more thing, their prices are usually lower than the large chain supermarkets.  An example, a dozen jumbo eggs at Albertson's cost over $3.  At Trader Joe's is $1.89.

The things that keep it from being perfect are a poor selection of sodas and their habit of dropping an item you just grew to love.

On the other hand, they have so much to love that an occasional drop is OK.  Our favorite go-to item here is the Asian orange chicken that tastes better than Panda Express.
I have to admit, I didn't warm up to Fresh & Easy right away.  The first one I went into seemed like a low-rent Trader Joe's...sort of a cross between TJ's and Superior Foor Warehouse.  They opened one up around the corner from me and, although it took awhile, I've grown to love this American child of the large British Tesco chain.

First of all, it's convenient.  In and out in just a minute.  Like TJ's, the stores are smaller than a supermarket.  The produce is fresh and there's alway a 98 cent special on that aisle.  The prices are low and F&E doesn't shy away from name brands.  I can get my Coke and Dr. Pepper here where I can't at TJ's. There is also a very large selection of premade food at low prices if you don't like to cook.  Example?  A nicely done ham and eggs breakfast you heat up in the microwave for $2.49.

The reason prices are low here are because of a minimalist approach.  Plain concrete floors, basic shelving units, LED lighting, and you scan your own groceries.  You bag them too on the express lanes.  You may not like this at first but once you find out how quick you can get in and out, coupled with the money you just saved, you'll start to come around.

If either of these two stores are in your neighborhood, consider yourself lucky.  When travelling, look for them for the quick and easy products that you always seem to end up needing.  Check the links above to see if they are located where you're heading.

-Darryl

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