This or That: Grocery Store

groceries

I’ve done my share of shopping, and for the most part, I’m a bargain shopper. As the organic craze is exploding around me, and everyone wanting to suddenly start buying “fresh” (or fresher), I feel as if there should be a comparison done with grocery stores. I wish I could remember the grocery stores back in Virginia, but since I’ve done my shopping in California and Nevada the last 3 years, I’ll stick to the West Coast for this compare/contrast. My “targets” of discussion: Smith’s, Albertson’s, Von’s. *** Please note that this is all my personal opinion. I am not trying to sway your shopping decisions one way or another. ***

Having lived in both California and (currently) Nevada, I’ve bounced between Smith’s, Albertson’s, and Von’s (not to mention, Fresh ‘n Easy and Trader Joe’s on occasion). With that said, I’ll begin with:

Name: Albertson’s
Tagline: “You’re in for something fresh.”
Rewards membership: Used to. N/A at present time.

I shopped at Albertson’s the whole time I was living in Pismo Beach, CA. I loved their deals on meat. The meat department was great with selection, price, and variety. I went through when they were still doing the rewards/discount membership, and I used to get 10 for 10 on some expensive brand name stuff. Now, Albertson’s no longer do the rewards membership, but their prices are still low. The problem I ran into back then was the produce and the boxed items. I only say this, because when I did buy boxed mashed potatoes and boxed rice/pasta (which were few and far between), I would open them up to find something that should not be in the box. (Let me just say that stuff moved without me touching.) The produce would go bad between 24-48 hours, even after I chose them because they were the least ripe of the bunch. Perhaps it was the California weather? There is that possibility. What I really miss about Albertson’s was when I was living in Atascadero, CA. They had a sandwich/deli shop inside the store, and I used to get the A-Town sub sandwich with chips and get 2 meals out of it. Also, I have this thing about all stores being set up the same way, so I don’t get confused as to where things are, and Pismo Beach and Atascadero had the same layout, which was nice. I can’t say the same about the store in San Luis Obispo though. (I’m a bit OCD.) So, for Albertson’s (in California), I give:

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Overall: 3 out of 5 carts
(a) Low prices
(b) Meat Department
(c) Good deals

Name: Von’s
Tagline: “Ingredients for life.”
Rewards membership: Yes

I did a little bit of shopping at Von’s while living in California. I loved the freshness of everything: produce, meat, bread. I loved the relaxed, dimly lit but cozy vibe of the story. Their cookies and cakes… don’t get me started! If I didn’t feel like baking, I just went to Von’s to fill my sweet tooth. Their deli – cold and hot sections – was “grrrrrreat!” (to quote Tony the Tiger). I would get fried (or roasted) chicken thighs and legs with 2 sides for $12.99 (or less, depending if they had deals going). My downfall with Von’s: You truly get what you pay for. The price of good produce is visible. Yet, I do have to point out that the price of meat is only like a few cents more per pound, and while I haven’t stepped inside a Von’s since moving to Las Vegas, I’d love to go back. Just let me get my budget spreadsheet figured and fully sorted first.

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Overall: 4 out of 5 carts
(a) Inviting interior
(b) Fresh produce
(c) Great deli
(d) Great bakery

Name: Smith’s
Tagline: “Premium Dairy Products and More”
Rewards membership: Yes

Smith’s is where my husband and I are shopping nowadays, as it’s the closest to the house. (Though there is a Von’s and Albertsons just 3-5 minutes away from Smith’s.) I’m not a big fan of the produce section, but I love the meat department. The guys working the counter are so funny and friendly, and they know their stuff too.  Since I’ve sort of stopped doing processed foods (pre-cooked/pre-prepped/frozen), Smith’s rewards is a nice way for me to get coupons for fresh stuff. I’ve been getting $2.00 to $5.00 off of meat from the meat department and $5.00 to $7.00 off of the next grocery trip, and it’s nice! Plus, the points earned go towards $0.10 off gas at any participating Shell station(s), so if we don’t want to go to Sam’s Club or Costco (or we’re really just running low and won’t make it to Sam’s or Costco), just pull into a Shell station and fill ‘er up. Oh, my husband and I are loving on Smith’s bakery department right now too. We don’t normally have bread, but when we do (did I just sound like the dos XX guy?), we get the fresh made rolls that’s 2 for $0.88. I’m not talking about little rolls either; I mean one roll is the size of my hand (about 6 inches diameter). Downside to Smith’s (other than my dislike for the produce section), the checkout line(s) seem to always be packed. I’ve heard people tell me that I’m just going to the store at the “wrong time,” but I’ve tried going at different times, and it just seems like: (a) not enough lanes are open or (b) everyone’s shopping at the same time as me.

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Overall: 4 out of 5 carts
(a) Friendly staff
(b) Reward coupons
(c) Meat Department
(d) Gas reward(s)

*** I would talk about Sam’s Club and Costco, but I wouldn’t be able to discuss the to places without being biased towards one or the other. It’d be like me talking about Target and Walmart, and I really don’t want to get into all that… not yet any ways. – Elle

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