By Ada Hossfeld
Volume 69, Issue II
Just how different is one grocery stores from another? They all have the same job to do, but they end up doing it in different ways. What determines the superiority or inferiority of our supermarkets? The first step I took in figuring out the overall quality of some of our local supermarkets was by making a rubric. It consisted of 5 categories. After I constructed this grading technique, I decided which supermarkets would be my victims. I feel that supermarkets resemble the hierarchy among clothing brands. Each brand gets the job done, supplying clothes, but some brands just make the experience of buying and wearing these clothes better and more or less expensive. This is the same for grocery stores. Some make the shopping experience better, if it be in variety of foods, cleanliness, prices, ambience and layout. These categories also happen to be the categories of my rubric, which I applied to 3 supermarkets in the vicinity of Briarcliff.
The first place I visited was the new Whole Foods in Chappaqua. This was my first time going to this outlet, and I must say it was very impressive. There is a huge parking lot, the space is clean, the ambient music is deep in the background, and the layout is perfect for a pleasant shopping experience despite the large size. It took me exactly 100 steps to walk from one side of the store to the other. I, then, decided that the prices on a dozen organic eggs and a gallon of milk would be an interesting measure. Whole Foods has pretty amazing prices when it comes to this category, which surprised me, because it has a reputation for being expensive. Their organic milk is $3.99 a gallon and their organic eggs are $4.69 a dozen. Their meat and seafood sections are overwhelmingly large, as is their prepared food section. They even have a sushi bar, pizzeria and self-serve mochi station! Their produce is very fresh and plentiful. I personally don’t know anyone who would be interested in the price of kale, but hey, if you are, they offer a 2 for $5 sale. My family eats a lot of bagels, and I was very disappointed to see that their bagels are $1 per piece, which is pricey. All in all, Whole Foods is doing a good job of creating a nice shopping environment and having surprisingly competitive prices on some basic items.
The next place I critiqued was DeCicco & Sons in Chappaqua. Its arched ceiling and floral touches create a distinctive, pleasant environment. Their parking lot is very small, which makes the shopping experience a little stressful. This store is considerably smaller than Whole Foods, but it still offers a nice selection of foods. It took me only 40 steps to walk from one side of the store to the other. I find their cakes and cookies are styled in a far superior manner to Whole Foods’s, while their homemade bread selection is limited. I was surprised to see that the produce was not very fresh and was in some cases turning brown. Their kale was 50 cents more than at Whole Foods, and it was not as green and fresh. Bagels cost $90 cents, which is also quite expensive. Their organic milk and egg prices were almost double that of Whole Foods, both $6.99! Their meat and seafood section are huge with lots of organic options. Their ambient music was fitting and not too loud. Overall the shopping feels unique and high-end, but the prices were also high.
Both of the aforementioned grocery stores are pretty fancy and therefore I wanted to take a look at something more basic. I visited Acme in Ossining, which is smaller than Whole Foods but larger than DeCicco & Sons. It took me about 57 steps to walk from one side of the market to the other. Acme’s background music is moderately loud but not overpowering. The store is clean with a convenient layout and a large parking lot. Their sales are also incredible! Their ice cream on sale is only $1.99 per ½ gallon, and on Sundays you can get a dozen bagels for only $5. Monday through Saturday their bagels are well-priced at only 69 cents. Acme’s selection of produce, meats and seafood is much more limited than that of the other stores I visited. The price for organic kale is $1.79 per pound, which is far better than both Whole Foods and DeCicco & Sons. Their organic milk costs $6.99 and their eggs are $4.39. Acme’s bakery has a large variety of ready-made cakes and snacks, but they are not nearly as refined as those in the other bakeries. Even though Acme is not considered a high-end supermarket, I still believe it provides the customer with a relatively positive experience and decent prices.
All three grocery stores have their strengths and weaknesses. Some have better produce, others better prices or greater variety. Each one thrives in a different category. If I had to choose one store I would probably choose Whole Foods, because of its milk and egg prices, variety, produce quality and overall experience. Even though I would choose this store I would still need bagels and ice cream from Acme and cakes and pastries from DeCicco & Sons.