Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No-Frills-Limited-Selection Grocery Stove v. Huge-Giant-Super-Sized-1-City-Block-Mega Grocery Store

A new Kroger recently opened in my part of town. Yippee, right? Our old Kroger was pretty old. 40,000 square feet and certainly ample for our needs, but not for our wants (other Krogers had artisan bread, sushi counters, fresh fish/seafood, and pretty flowers). So, when the new Kroger was being advertised, I was elated: closer to my house, bigger (83,000 square feet), bulk food, organic food, better produce, etc. etc. etc.

Guess what? I shop at Aldi more than ever now. Why? I daresay Carrie would echo the following sentiments, but these thoughts spring from a conversation I had with my sister-in-law, Erin, over Christmas. She is also lugging a toddler through the grocery store, trying to feed her family healthy and economically, and doesn't want to make any more trips to a grocery store than necessary (just like Carrie and me).

Why is the huge-giant-city-block-sized grocery store not my favorite? Why do I shop at places like Aldi, the produce store down the road, and even the Chinese grocery store? Some things to consider:

  1. Smaller store means fewer choices which invariably helps my grocery budget (not as much temptation to buy things not on the list!)
  2. Smaller store means shorter shopping trip (a bonus if you're dragging young children along).
  3. Smaller store means less distraction for kiddos--not as my toys/candy/etc. to induce cries of, "Mommy, can we get that?"
  4. Smaller store means easier kid-management for the kids that are old enough to walk with you. After all, they can only get 1 or 2 aisles away and you can still them even if they're "across the store."
  5. Smaller store means more friendly staff. The same few people work there and you get more personalized attention or at the very least, a friendlier cashier. (In fact, this morning my produce store folks gave me free apples and significantly reduced bell peppers; this happens frequently. Of course, I've been shopping there roughly once a week for 4.5 years and the same folks have worked there the whole time.)
Ironically enough, Sam's is another place I don't mind shopping when I have my kids along. It's actually a similar experience to the others except that I'm doing more walking. The aisles are so industrial that there are few impulse buys targeted to kids (with the exception of the gigantic candy aisle that I avoid). I can get in and out in a predictable amount of time and am not swayed to buy (too many) things that aren't on my list.

If you're dreading grocery store shopping and/or need to find a better solution for your family, consider 1 or 2 trips to smaller stores during the week and a big stocking up trip to a mainstream grocery store 1 or 2 times a month. You might be surprised at how much better things go even though it seems counterintuitive to shop at a store with limited selection.

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