Tuesday, November 22

My Holiday Grocery Tour

In preparation for Thanksgiving, yesterday I spent the bulk of the day going to grocery stores ... four of them to be exact.  Why four, you ask?  Because to really be smart about spending and to really get the best "goods," I literally had to go to four different stores.  Didn't realize that would be the case, but in reality to do it "right," that's what had to happen.

Costco:  to get the good deals.  $.99 per pound for turkey is worth a fourteen mile drive and the price on Tide would blow your socks off.

Trader Joe's:  to get hard to find items and fresh produce.  Pumpkin cream cheese pancakes has become a family tradition.  Plus they have the best pinot grigio on the planet.

Whole Foods:  to get the organic stuff like real crystalized ginger and fresh mushrooms.  Why?  Exactly.

Genuardi's:  for the normal stuff.  Like milk, eggs, and holiday colored M&Ms.

My biggest observation?  Actually my biggest shock?  Packaging!

I couldn't believe the amount of packaging I saw at Costco.  Holy cow!

I've never seen so much packaging.  Boxes on top of boxes on top of crates that are on top of crates.  Primary packaging with secondary packaging.  Small little items with huge amounts of cardboard around them ... presumably to prevent "slippage."

But I couldn't help but feel a little guilty.  It's so counter-culture to have so much packaging.  Now granted, there were no plastic or paper bags at check-out, you had to bring your own so that was good.  But I still felt like I was dragging home a paper plant with me, which was in sharp contrast to the other grocery stores I visited.

All in all, the best shopping experience?  Whole Foods.  Fabulous merchandising and store layout.  Had an organic lunch in the food court.  No long lines ... pleasant staff.  Of course the prices compensated for it, but it was still the best shopping experience.

All in a day's holiday work!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect


  1. Well, it does take a village of shops to get the shopping done, doesn't it? Good article on why we shop where we shop. Love Trader Joe's for the courteous staff, but would never buy vegetables there. So picked up cheese and chips at TJ's. Veggies are two stops: the Farmer's Market on the weekend for organic salad greens, onions, squash. Sprouts, a small chain store, offers a big selection of organic food, so all the veggies and fruits that are normally heavily pesticided I buy there. They also won't carry meat fed with genetically modified corn, so the turkey, applies, yams, and cranberries, the bulk foods get picked up there. Whew! But worth it.

  2. So true! Even in the city, I find myself doing a circuit between our new UES Fairway, D'Agastino's and Food Emporium with field trips to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods (UWS) once or twice a month. Not one of these stores is "all things to all people" and true to one of my consumer econ classes, the price graphic on a random item would blow your mind. Within a small 2-3 block radius, the price of many brand name staples can vary as much as $2 or $3 (even when not on sale)! Do I make the extra stops? Do the math ... : ) : )

  3. Love hearing everyone's shopping patterns ... it's been a Facebook, Twitter, Blogger frenzy!! Jim.