Regional Supermarket Chains We Wish Were National
For many people, grocery shopping is a real chore. There’s just so much to think about! Which items you should buy generic or splurge for brand-name, how to save money without cutting coupons, and choosing healthy options without breaking the bank are just a few of the things you have to consider.
You try to keep it quick, using all the tricks in the book for get in and out of the store as soon as possible. But somehow, you always end up spending more time at the store than you’d expect; which is why choosing a store you enjoy going to can make all the difference.
Some stores are actually a blast to shop in. A few of them have features such as personal shopping assistance, free snacks and samples, or even a petting zoo — yes, a petting zoo! — to keep customers entertained and happy when they walk through the sliding glass doors.
You probably know all about America’s best national grocery stores — Walmart, Costco, and Trader Joe’s are cult favorites from coast to coast. But other great supermarkets didn’t make it all the way from sea to shining sea. These regional chains are a few of the best.
You know all about Costco, but have you heard of BJ’s? In some states, BJ’s and Costco are competitors — BJ’s is another wholesale store with crazy good deals on popular grocery items for members of the club. It sells foods in quantities massive enough to feed even the hungriest of families, and the chain offers same-day delivery. BJ’s sells everything from top-shelf liquor to a 28-pound tub of pancake mix. Plus, if you know these insider tricks, you can save even more money shopping there. For now, BJ’s is only located on the East Coast and in Ohio.
Ingles is a supermarket chain in the southeastern United States with over 200 locations. The store has its own brand name of products, Laura Lynn, which offers quality products for lower costs than some brand names. Ingles clearly cares about its customers — customer service is a top priority at these stores, coupons and deals are easily accessible, and Ingles even has a registered dietitian who writes a health blog on their website. Ingles customers can ask her questions and receive personalized tips on shopping for better health.
Located in the Midwest, Fareway (not to be confused with the Northeastern chain Fairway; see below) has 122 locations and is well known for delivering convenience and a pleasant shopping experience. Family values are at the forefront of Fareway’s business model — the chain prioritizes integrity, fairness, and honesty in relationships with customers, suppliers, and employees. And it shows! Customers return again and again to Fareway for high-quality products and an enjoyable experience.
Giant Eagle is a northeastern grocery chain with 417 locations in five different states. Customers love their loyalty program, which allows you to rack up points spent in-store to cash in later for savings. Additionally, Giant Eagle offers FuelPerks!, a program that offers 10 cents off of each gallon of gas if you purchase 50 dollars’ worth of groceries. They also offer Curbside Express, a shopping service that allows you to make a grocery list online and have an employee do the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is pick up your haul at the curb!
H-E-B is a Texas-based grocery chain with 350 locations in Texas, Arizona, and the north of Mexico. The company also owns and operates Central Market, which focuses on specialty items and fine foods. Customers love the store’s generic brand items for their quality and their low price — and they love shopping there, too. The customer service is top-notch. Texan pride is tangible when you walk in. H-E-B brand products are often shaped like the outline of the state itself. And an employee will give you a freshly-baked tortilla so you can snack while you shop. But if for some reason you can’t find the time to grocery shop, the stores offer curbside pickup and delivery groceries; a personal shopper will scour the aisles for you, selecting the freshest produce for your cart.
Wegmans is a grocery store with locations only in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Wegmans offers an app that organizes your grocery list to ease the confusion of grocery shopping — and help you get out of there in less than 30 minutes. The staff is well-trained to ensure that you get the help you need while you’re shopping; the training program for each staff member is geared specifically toward the area of the store they’re stationed in. Produce aisle workers are trained for produce, and people who work in the cheese aisle receive extensive training on selecting cheese. Additionally, Wegmans has deals with local vineyards and wineries to offer special wines you can only find at Wegmans; conveniently, Wegmans also offers free wine, beer, and cheese tastings on weekends. Turn up.
Though the only locations are in the New York City area and New Jersey, this grocery chain is one of the best. Fairway began as a humble grocery stand on the Upper West Side; when it opened, the storefront was named Fairway by the father-son duo in honor of the family’s old business. With family values and a passion for fresh foods at the heart of the business, Fairway’s 14 locations and four liquor markets continue to offer a variety of high-quality foods at fair prices. Fairway also supports the local community by donating thousands of pounds of food each year to local organizations.
Publix has locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, with most of their locations in Florida. And if you ask any Floridian, they’ll tell you: Publix is pretty great. Rarely do you hear anyone looking forward to going grocery shopping, but in Florida, this is considered normal. For one, Publix offers field trips to elementary schoolers. Kids in school uniforms and paper hats? Adorable. If they aren’t on a field trip, kids can still have fun at Publix due to the free cookies handed out at the bakery. Publix is also well known for its stellar deli sandwiches, nicknamed “Pub Subs.” Honestly, Pub Subs might be the best-tasting sandwiches in all of Florida. They’re that good.
Hy-Vee is a Midwestern full-service grocery chain that’s so much more than just a supermarket. Their locations have bakeries, delicatessens, floral departments, dine-in and carryout food service, wine and spirits, pharmacies, health clinics, and coffee shops inside. Additionally, Hy-Vee has expanded its HealthMarkets, which sell natural and organic products. Customers of Hy-Vee can make an account online to stay up to date with sales and coupons, as well as any in-store happenings in their area.
Market Basket is a grocery chain located in the Northeast with a stellar reputation for customer service. According to reviewers, the store offers a wide selection of groceries at relatively low prices. They have a Weekly Flyer with deals of the week that customers can access either online or in-store. If you get hungry or sleepy at Market Basket, you can stop by Market Café, where the chain offers freshly squeezed juices, coffee, teas, ice cream, smoothies, and more.
This Midwestern grocery chain has over 200 locations, most of which are located in Michigan where the store is headquartered. Like Target and Walmart, Meijer sells both groceries and commercial goods; it was actually one of the first stores to do so. Meijer has its own store brand of products as well as a drug store, making it the epitome of convenience for Midwestern residents. Need something? You know they have it at Meijer.
More than just an adorable mascot drives customers to visit Piggly Wiggly, a grocery chain located in the South and Midwest. The chain is widely applauded for its friendly attitude and customer service, with locations in 17 states. Piggly Wiggly was America’s first ever self-service grocery store, founded in 1916. It was the pioneer that created what we now think of as the typical grocery shopping experience — shopping baskets, open shelves, and checkout counters.
ShopRite is a chain of co-op supermarkets located in the northeastern United States. Their slogan is “Why Pay More?” and honestly, customers agree that the deals the chain offers live up to the hype. Northeasterners applaud this grocery chain’s helpful staff members and quality savings. Additional coupons and updates on in-store savings can be found on their website — one of the many things customers can do to save a little extra on their food.
Winn-Dixie owns and operates around 500 grocery store locations in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. Southerners love shopping there because of the many deals and excellent customer service. Winn-Dixie now offers same-day grocery delivery, as well. They are known for their own brand of soft drinks, which includes more than 20 different flavors as well as diet and caffeine-free varieties. It became even more beloved after a children’s novel (and later, movie) about a dog named after the store became famous — “Because of Winn-Dixie.”
Stew Leonard’s is a small chain, with just six stores. But those six spots (located in Connecticut and New York) are truly something special. The New York Times calls it “The Disneyland of Dairy Stores” because it is one of the only supermarkets that also has its own attractions. They have a petting zoo, animatronics, and costumed characters to keep customers entertained. Additionally, Stew Leonard’s sources products from its own farm — it actually started up as a dairy store in 1969, and continues to sell dairy from its farms.
Stop & Shop
Stop & Shop is a grocery chain located in the northeastern United States with over 400 locations. The store first opened in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1914, where a few years later it was one of the first stores to adopt the self-service grocery store model pioneered by Piggly Wiggly. Many Stop & Shop locations will have either a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts inside, just in case you’re feeling groggy. They also offer customers a personal shopping assistant, which allows customers to track their purchases and bag their groceries in-cart as they move through the store. Anything to save time, right? Speaking of which, these tips will help you keep your shopping trip under 30 minutes.
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