Now that we've moved, we are looking for "our" grocery store. It's tougher than you would think...
When we lived in Wakulla County, we had our choice of Winn Dixie in Crawfordville, IGA in Woodville, and the Publix on Capital Circle. Crawfordville's store was about 15 miles away. The IGA gave me the willies when I went in there - it was dirty, small, and didn't carry much of anything except cheese curls and beer (but it was a GREAT place to buy meat - go figure). "My" store was Publix. It was clean; I liked their house brands; it wasn't too expensive; it was laid out in a way that made sense and was spacious.
Now like everybody, I won't find everything I like in one store. My mom does her weekly shopping at at least three stores and possibly more. Me? I'm an in-and-out kind of gal, so I like to find as much of what I'm looking for in one place that's convenient. So here are my choices:
is four (residential) blocks away from my house down the hill. I have the "Winn Dixie" card to take advantage of store specials. Their meat is good, the store makes sense and isn't too crowded. Their house brands are okay. They have four self-check outs, but only one cash register ever seems to be open with a person manning it. Another plus is that our bank is located in the store.
has always been my favorite store. We have two of them equi-distant in opposite directions. Unfortunately, they are both geared towards college students/genXers. They don't carry a lot of what I'm looking for, the aisles are small and there are constant traffic jams at the ends of the aisles. The stores are laid out BACKWARDS from every other grocery store I've ever been in. The checkouts are doubled up, half-manned and remind me of Christmas-time in Wal-Mart. I can't find stuff, and when I do find it, I wonder who the genius was that thought that would be a good place. This goes for BOTH Publix stores that I would go to.
I grew up with Albertsons two blocks away. It was the wonder store for us. Later when my brother Andy and I lived together, we would go do laundry and grocery shop in the middle of the night and play in the toy aisles on those hoppy-things. Happy memories, which have now faded as I visited my new close-by Albertsons. The produce section was a nightmare. Nothing made sense and when I went to pick up an acorn squash, my thumb went through it. Obviously keeping the produce fresh isn't high on the list. Also, the vegetables are stacked in trays that protrude from the walls at a 45 degree angle. Nice for display, but don't try to actually pick something up from there. Can you say avalanche? This is another store designed for college students - who don't cook. Lots of ready-to-go-type food, but if you're actually looking for ingredients, forget a quick trip to the store. My ideal shopping trip lasts about an hour. Two and a half hours later, I STILL couldn't find some of what I was looking for and when I asked, I got lots of blank looks. On the plus side, the store was absolutely spotless (I could eat off the floors), the seafood section was to die for, and if you happen to be a college guy, you could buy your beer and nudie magazines from one aisle. But try to find cottage cheese or one of those horrendous "Lunchables" for your kid and it's like entering the Twighlight Zone. The customer service counter had one man moving at the pace of a slug, and all the other employees were in slo-mo too. It took so long to get my "preferred customer card" that I had to return my ice cream to the freezer because it was dripping all over the rest of my groceries. Besides being clean and having a great seafood counter, the "preferred customer card" did give some rather astounding store discounts which my budget was very happy about.
So you see... it's a mixed bag. None of these stores makes me as happy as my old Publix did. I may wind up following in my mother's footsteps. Albertsons for non-food, Publix for their sweet tea, chicken and sushi, and Winn Dixie for everything else.
Mom - I've got a cooler in my trunk already!