Yesterday, I wrote about Kroger, a grocery chain in my area (okay, well, Kroger is all over the US, but there is a store a few miles from my house, so, to me, they are local). I think we all feel a certain affinity for the grocery store, even if you hate going. The grocery stores is usually where you start in assembling menus to feed your family. For us, I think the grocery store was the first place we ever took Aster as part of our routine errands. I know the first place I ever took Aster by myself was our local, dumpy Marsh grocery store. So whether you love them or hate them, grocery stores leave an indelible and undeniable stamp on our lives.
Kroger is my favorite local chain, but that's the key "local." I don't want to drive 20 miles ( I know, if you live in Kansas or somewhere, 20 miles is no big deal) to grab a loaf of bread. I've assembled a list of my 10 favorite supermarket chains other than Kroger (and I have sampled many over the years.) Some chains I kind of like, like Marsh in Indiana, or Weis Markets in Pennsylvania, but some of their stores are so dumpy that I couldn't put them on my list. Hyvee is a really neat chain the midwest but I guess I haven't been there enough to put it on the list. But maybe it should be. HEB is a chain in Texas, I believe and I've not had a chance to check out one of those. There's a great, scrappy chain in Cincinnati called Remke Markets, but they seem so local that most of you wouldn't have heard of them, so they didn't make my official list. Ditto for Felpausch in Battle Creek or Chief's in Lima, Ohio. I'm sure I'm missing some good ones, any you think I should add to the list?
MY 10 FAVORITE GROCERY STORE CHAINS
IGA: Okay, I’ve written about this “chain” before. And it’s not really a chain, it’s a collection of independent grocers who pool together their buying power so that a can of beans doesn’t cost you $10 when you shop there. IGA stands for Independent Grocer Alliance (although an effective ad campaign in the 80s christened it standing for “I Get Attention”). I still like local IGAs
WEGMAN’S: Wow, is all I can say about this chain found in New York and other NE locales.
HARRIS-TEETER: I have a feeling this will have to be taken off my list. Kroger recently bought it and, as much as Iike Kroger, they have a way of sucking out the regional charm. And this chain had it by the spades. Their stores were clean and sparkling, although sometimes a bit pricey.
PUBLIX: Are you allowed to shop anywhere else if you live in Florida? Just seems like Publix has an absolute lock on the grocery business in Florida and throughout the southeast. Generally, I can see why…their stores are well-stocked, huge,and, well, everywhere, at least in Florida.
TARGET SUPERCENTER: Most Target stores have some groceries, but the “Super Targets” are not quite as common. Super Targets have a full grocery store under their roof and are meant to compete with Wal-Mart Supercenters. There is one near Pinecraft, the Amish enclave in Sarasota, Florida, and, wow, that place is amazing.
PIGGY WIGGLY: This makes my list probably just for sentimentality. There is a Piggy Wiggly in South Carolina where we’ve vacationed a lot in the past and there’s just something very southern (although I also think they have Piggy Wiggly’s in North Dakota) and laid back about the place. A good selection of beach stuff and it just has this laid back aura of relaxation.
FOOD LION: This is a regional grocery store chain the mid-Atlantic, upper SE….there is a Food Lion as close to me as Dry Ridge, Kentucky. Solid selection and clean stores.
GIANT EAGLE: Giant Eagle is based in Pittsburgh, but years ago they bought Big Bear which was based in Columbus. So the Big Bears became Giant Eagles (what is with grocery stores and animals? There also used to be a Cub Foods…so you had a Big Bear and a Cub Foods in the same city). Anyway, Giant Eagles have great in-store bakeries and an awesome shopper rewards program. I think I remember my sister-in-law practically getting frere gas there from all the points she racked up.
MEIJER: This really depends on where you are. Meijer is a scrappy Midwestern competitor to Kroger and Walmart. Some of their stores – like in my town – are really dumpy,but others are sprawling and upscale and offer an amazing array of groceries and sundries under one roof.
SCHNUCK’S: This chain can be found in the St. Louis area and they are awesome. I think they stock homemade whoopee pies from an Amish bakery in Whitesville, TN, so that is reason enough to shop there!
HANNAFORDS: This is a Maine chain and, really, if you live in Maine and shop anywhere other than Hannaford’s, what’s wrong with you?
CANADA: Canada has many really fun grocery store chains. I love to go to the grocery store when I am in Canada just to see the differences in products, etc. One chain there, though, really strikes me as head and shoulders above the rest: Sobey's. Love their private-label oatmeal cookies. Yum.