America’s Best Supermarkets 2016
America’s Best Supermarkets 2016
All supermarkets are not created equal. If there is one thing that appears on our “to do” list week after week it’s grocery shopping, and while going to the store can feel tedious, it’s an inevitability if you want to have food in the fridge come dinnertime. Choosing the right store for your needs means a more pleasant experience as you check off the box on this errand.
From hypermarkets that offer a one-stop shopping experience to the specialized organic food retailers, there are stores to suit everyone’s needs, time-constraints, and dietary concerns. We asked readers to choose their favorite spots from a list of national and regional supermarket chains based on the stores' range, quality, and availability of products; cleanliness; and level of customer service.
This year, we asked once again that our readers rank the best supermarkets in America, and many votes later, we have compiled a list of the top 35 stores in the country. Read on to find out if your favorite store made the cut.
35. Lowes Foods
This family-owned Carolinas-based grocery store prides itself on providing fresh food and a unique shopping experience you won’t find at other “big box” grocery chains. For over 60 years, this store has been working with local farmers and food purveyors to provide a “homegrown grocery store,” which is why there’s no surprise it made it onto our list at 35.
33. Market Basket
Market Basket — or Demoulas Market Basket — first opened in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1917 and now operates 75 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. The family-owned company (that was once embroiled in a lawsuit over ownership) is known for its low prices, generous employee benefits, and good customer service.
32. WinCo Foods
WinCo Foods is an employee-owned grocery chain with 105 stores. The company, which was founded in 1967 in Boise by Ralph Ward and Bud Williams, quickly became known for its low prices and bare bones, warehouse-style appearance. The store changed its name from Waremart to WinCo in 1999 (except for one store that retains the original name), but maintains its reputation for low prices. Currently, WinCo Foods operates in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
31. Hannaford Brothers Company
Hannaford Brothers Company is one of oldest supermarkets on our list. Founded in 1883 in Portland, Maine, the company is currently headquartered in Scarborough, Maine. In 2000, the 177 stores operating in New England and upstate New York were purchased by the Delhaize Group. Hannaford stores are known for their wide array of store-brand label quality products and low prices.
30. Shaw's and Star Market
Shaw’s and Star Market operate in five New England states including Maine, where George C. Shaw opened the original store that is now one of the oldest continuously operated supermarkets in the United States. According the company’s website, “All of our stores, no matter what banner they operate under, were founded around the philosophy of offering customers the products they wanted to buy at a fair price, with lots of tender, loving care.”
29. Giant Eagle
Giant Eagle was founded in 1918 in Pittsburgh. Today, the parent company operates more than 400 Giant Eagle stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. The Giant Eagle stores have lead-in milestones in Pittsburgh, as the first to offer seasonal items, loyalty programs, and in-store bakeries, and continue to be known for their low prices and great customer service today.
28. Giant Food
In 1923, Carlisle Meat Market opened with only two men behind the counter. Today, its legacy for outstanding customer service and quality products lives on in the more than 200 GIANT stores. In 2014, it won “Retailer of the Year” awarded by Progressive Grocer for the company’s commitment to philanthropy in its local communities.
26. Shop n' Save
Shop n’ Save opened in 1979 in the St. Louis metropolitan area and committed itself to offering low prices and quality products at each of the company’s 44 locations in the region. Shop n’ Save is also dedicated to improving the communities in which the stores operate through sustainability goals that include eliminating land waste, energy and water conservation, sustainable seafood practices, and reusable bag programs.
25. Albertsons LLC
This regional mid-western store has more than 100 stores dedicated to providing shoppers with clean stores, good service, and low prices. Founded in Iowa in 1938, Fareway is currently one of the largest employers in Iowa. Fareway’s philosophy for future growth is centered on its employees, and finding the right people — “People who truly enjoy serving others and are always willing to give the little extra it takes to succeed. People who believe that no deal is a good deal unless it's good for everyone concerned.”
23. BJ's Wholesale Club
22. Stop & Shop
The grocery store that first opened in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1914 has grown over the last 100 years to become one of the largest supermarket chains operating in southern New England. The chain has strived to provide a more efficient and cost-effective shopping experience for customers becoming one of the first supermarkets to adopt a self-checkout program in the early 2000s. Many of the stores offer a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts café inside the store for a pleasant customer shopping experience.
21. Super Target
20. Safeway Inc.
As one of the largest supermarket chains in the U.S., Safeway operates thousands of stores in North America. Safeway offers convenience shopping in many urban areas, offering home delivery services, and low prices for quality products through its own private labels, Signature Café and the more upscale label, Primo Taglio.
19. Fairway Market
Fairway’s slogan, “LIKE NO OTHER MARKET ®,” promises to deliver an exceptional shopping experience for patrons in the New York metropolitan area. The stores feature produce delivered daily, fresh seafood, Prime meat from in-store butcher counters, as well as bragging rights for being the only store to hand-select and roast premium coffee beans on premises.
16. Walmart Supercenters
Continuing the same theme of low, low prices at its regular Walmart stores, Walmart Supercenters carry all of the same products as a traditional supermarket in addition to electronics, housewares, and clothes. Walmart operates more than 3,000 Supercenters across the U.S., making it convenient to find low prices on produce, seafood, meat, dairy, and other grocery items.
Shoprite is a chain of supermarkets operating in the northeastern U.S., and is one of the largest food retailers in Philadelphia, as well as the largest employer in New Jersey. While most ShopRite stores remain family owned, all of the stores are members of the Wakefern Food Corporation. Its slogan, “We’re all about food. We’re all about savings. We’re all about you,” says it all.
12. The Fresh Market
The Fresh Market is a gourmet supermarket chain based out of Greensboro, North Carolina. The store operates in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeastern U.S. The stores are meant to evoke a European market feel with high-end and specialty products.
10. Piggly Wiggly
The Piggly Wiggly operates in 16 states in the Midwest and Southern U.S. Considered the first “self-service” supermarket, the Piggly Wiggly was among the first stores to offer check-out counters and grocery carts in every store. Today, the pioneering supermarket is consolidated under the C & S Wholesale Grocers banner, but independently operated stores continue to strive for unparalleled customer service.
Operating more than 200 stores in the Midwest, Meijer was one of the first stores to combine groceries with other department store items, effectively making it the leader in the supercenter trend. As part of its community outreach, customers can make charitable donations to community organizations along with their purchases.
8. Sprouts Farmers Market
Kroger, which brings in the most revenue of any supermarket chain in the U.S., is headquartered in Cincinnati, and operates more than 2,500 supermarkets across the U.S. under several banners. In addition to carrying recognizable name brands, Kroger also carries local and regional products in each of its stores at competitive prices.
6. Costco Wholesale Markets
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Costco is the largest membership-only warehouse club in the U.S. It operates close to 700 stores each following the same model of offering low-priced items in bulk quantities. In addition to offering name-brand items, Costco offers its own private label items under the name Kirkland Signature. Many of the stores feature a small food court as well as a gas station offering lower than average gas prices.
Wegmans is a regional grocery store chain operating in the Northeastern United States. It prides itself on offering local and responsibly grown produce from its own organic farm. Wegmans also carries its own affordable health food brand and artisanal products, making it no surprise that this supermarket breaks the top five on our list.
4. Whole Foods Markets
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Whole Foods Markets are the new kid on the block compared to many of the larger, older supermarket chains in the country; however, since the store’s founding in Austin in 1980, the specialty store dedicated to providing shoppers with organic and natural products has blown up. Today, Whole Foods Markets operate more than 400 stores across the country.
3. Stew Leonard's
With only five locations in New York and Connecticut, Stew Leonard’s has made a name for itself because of its dedication to high-quality products. The store, which started as a small dairy store in 1969, continues to stock its shelves with items from its own farm. Dubbed the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores” by The New York Times, the stores are stocked with a petting zoo, animatronics, and costumed characters that entertain customers in addition to grocery items.
Publix has more than 1,000 stores across the Southern U.S., making it one of the largest regional grocery chains in the U.S. The chain is employee-owned and prides itself on exceptional customer service. Shoppers can special order items not regularly carried, and the store has its own organics label called GreenWise.
1. Trader Joe's
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Many of Trader Joe’s more than 400 stores nationwide are concentrated in Southern California where the store is headquartered. The unique chain model, which carries more than 50,000 different products, many sporting the Trader Joe’s house brand label, prides itself on providing shoppers with a wide variety of reasonably priced items. Stocking its shelves with everything from gourmet to organic to special-diet items, it is no surprise that Trader Joe’s is this year’s best supermarket in America.