Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Local" Grocery Stores

I like traveling to different places and seeing what they have for "local" stores. With the proliferation of national chains it's becoming ever more difficult to find local stores, but one area that seems to have resisted this is grocery stores. There seem to be "regional" grocery stores, but no "national" grocery stores that I know of. Here in the New York Capital District (Albany, Schenectady, Troy) we have "Hannaford" and "Price Chopper." Of these, Hannaford is actually based in Scarborough, Maine, and is a subsidiary of a foreign food conglomerate. Price Chopper is a family-owned store headquartered in Schenectady. Occasionally you see a "Grand Union," though less frequently these days as the chain fell on hard times and sold a bunch of stores a few years back. Scan the list below and see if the stores in your region are represented. I'll update to include those submitted by comments that are not duplicative.

Arkansas - Little Rock

Harvest Foods
Giant Foods
Maryland - Baltimore Metro

Super Fresh

New York - Capital District

Price Chopper

Grand Union
South Carolina - High Country
South Carolina - Low Country
Piggly Wiggly


Anonymous Rick said...

Great topic, Gollum. Gosh, Grand Union reminds me of happy innocense shopping with my great grandmother in Balto. County when I was a little tyke. The same store has gone through many incarnations since, and is now a Mars, a co. with a distinctly Md. history (http://www.marsfood.com/html/inStore/about.html). In fact, the stores from my childhood are no longer what they were: A&P (interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Atlantic_and_Pacific_Tea_Company), and Safeway, which are both still around, but no longer where I grew up.

In Little Rock, we have Ohio-based Kroger, and regional Harvest Foods, part of the larger-regional Affiliated Foods Southwest. Not very special. I do like though when they make the effort to carry some local products.

When I first moved from Baltimore to Little Rock, I was fond of two products: Baltimore-born Old Bay seasoning was not then available in Little Rock, and Harrison, Ark.-made Cavender's seasoning was not then available in Baltimore. Each is now available in the other location. Still, I can't yet get fresh Utz potato chips in Arkansas, though they're a staple of any Maryland grocery store.

Ahhh, food.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Gollum said...

Heh. Whenever I go back to Maryland I ALWAYS come back with two bags or so of Utz. Maybe I should look in to becoming a distributor up here . . .

My grandmother still insists on going back to the Mars store in Baltimore where she has been shopping since I think the late Cretaceous period . . . old habits die hard I suppose.

10:40 PM  
Blogger J. Eric Smith said...

In the deep Southeast, you can tell if you are a Low Country person or a High Country person by your grocery store: Piggly Wiggly dominates the coastal plains and Piedmont, Ingalls rules the hills and mountains of the inner Southeast.

When we lived in Idaho, the big chain was called Smiths. In the DC Metro area, we shopped at Giant Food (or Super Giant Food, once they expanded the one in our neighborhood).

I think IGA is probably as close as you can get to a national grocery chain . . . I've seen them all over the country.

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

PriceChopper sucks. I hate their high prices, AdvantagEdge card club memberships, and crappy store employees. It just sucks in general.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Gollum said...

Eric - That's just what I mean. I can't imagine shopping at a place called "Piggly Wiggly," but for a lot of people it's what defines their sense of grocery shopping. I love that.

Thomas - I've had a hard time warming up to Price Chopper in the 11 years I've lived here. I routinely drive past one only 1 mile from my house to get to the Hannaford that's 4 more miles down the road. I have a general affinity for "local" businesses because they keep money in a community - - and Price Chopper more than qualifies for that. But I can't help but feel a little take "advantage" of when I end up paying extra bucks for non-specialed items. Week over week, there's no real question about which store I'm going to: Hannaford.

7:25 PM  
Blogger J. Eric Smith said...

I not only like shopping at "The Pig" (as it's known, per it's ad slogan "I'm Big on the Pig") when I'm home in the Carolinas, I actually wear its logo proudly when I'm not: http://jericsmith.com/images/pig2.jpg

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

You all remind me that my earliest childhood memory is walking across the street with my mom from our apartment complex to the Giant. I think the grocery store is my safe place.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Price Chopper should be renamed PRICE GROPER because they are masters at scamming customers. They want everyone to think they have great prices....Walmart is at least 20% cheaper than they are, and so is Hannaford. Plus they offer misleading ads, place prices in the wrong positions, and overall don't give a rat's a** about customers. If you REALLY want to save money try Walmart or if you don't mind generic brands, Aldi.

1:03 PM  

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