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Jul 25, 2004 03:34 AM

Heh, which sucks worse: Jewel or Dominick's?

  • h

I am certain that few, if any, of you go to either store.

But just for the record: which is crappier?

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  1. d
    David Hammond

    Horace, my feeling is that the quality of each of these stores can vary quite a bit by neighborhood. I actually do shop at Dominick's regularly, because in my neighborhood, it beats the Jewel.

    12 Replies
    1. re: David Hammond

      There is a fair amount of variation in some items but for us, in the South Loop, with both a Jewel and a Dominick's nearby on Roosevelt, we've ended up with a routine of more or less alternating between the two, with the choice dictated by the fact that there are various items the one does carry that the other doesn't. In general, we try to buy as much as possible elsewhere (ethnic markets, specialty shops, farmers' markets in season, etc.) and use these two thoroughly overpriced and consistently disappointing places for certain non-food necessities and convenient purchase of limited foodstuffs when circumstances allow no other option.

      There is a rumour out that Whole Foods will be opening a branch down this way. Whole Foods will offer the neighbourhood lots of things of quality but the prices on many things are, of course, laughably inflated, and many basic household goods they don't offer. We'll surely still have to go to the two places that -- albeit in slightly different ways -- thoroughly 'suck'.


      1. re: Antonius

        How's Meijer's? They're building one by me (Barrington Rd) but I've never been. I try to shop at Valli Produce which saved me about 40% on my weekly bill. I only go to Jewel for about 3 items they don;t carry. Any opinions on Valli?

        1. re: Rich

          JLawrence is a big proponenet of Meijer. He seems to shop there regularly and is satisfied that he is getting good deals there.

          In my area, Jewel is far superior to Dominicks (which operates perhaps the nastiest grocery store I have ever been in on Broadway). For may major shopping, I have found that Cub Foods offers much better prices on pantry items such as eggs, peanut butter, soft drinks, spices, ect. In addition, they generally have great specials. So, they get most of my business. I still prefer to shop independents for meats and produce. My personal preference is Cermak on North Avenue.

          I've had some pretty pleasant experiences in a couple of Jewels. Can't say the same for Dominicks.

          1. re: YourPalWill

            Here are my THUMBNAIL reviews of the Chicago area supermarkets.

            I am in there every other day as I bank with TCF Bank.
            The groceries are grossly overpriced with an occasional special. I do not like their deceptive use of units of measures. For example, some of their deli items are priced by the lb where others are prices by the half. Some meat items are priced by the lb whereas others by the each.

            Their baked goods are mediocre. Their produce items are fairly expensive. They account for under 5% of my total spend.

            There prices are worse than Jewel's. They are in serious trouble financially as they do not turn their meats and dairy often enough to keep it fresh. Their cashiers in Crystal Lake are generally rude, fine representatives of the UFCW.

            They do have a decent salad bar that I occasionally hit and their baked goods are better than the McHenry Co. independent bakeries. They account for less than 5% of my spend.

            CUB FOODS
            I have yet to find a good reason to shop them. Tey have the lethal combination of low quality and high prices. It is ONE place in Crystal Lake where they can have one cashier during unch time and still never have a line. A poor deli, poor meat selection. Decent produce that is the most expensive in the area.

            I am NOT a great Meijer's fan, BUT ... their prices are generally lower than the others. They run great sales on canned goods, canned beans, dry pasta. Their produce is good but is also very high. Their meat is of better quality than the others (not saying much) but you have to read the labels on some of it.
            Their seafood is the freshest in the area. Occasionally, they have mislabeled an item (calling Dungenous crab blue crabs) which has resulted in great savings for me.

            Generally, we shop here 4-5 times a year and spend a bundle to stock the pantry. Meijers accounts for about 15% of my food spend.

            They are not in this market but we shop them in Beloit, DeKalb, and Rockford. Where they are in the market, grocery prices are less. We buy some staples and some frozen foods there. I do not touch the seafood as it is the worst seafood quality that I have ever seen. Their produce is high. It is a darn shame that people in Rockford and DeKalb get lower priced groceries while we in Chicago pay more.

            Absolutely the dirtiest stores with plenty of stockouts. Of course, they are also running through tremendous volume.

            Accounts for about 10% of my food spend.

            My favorite supermarket in the area. Low prices, great selection, phenomenal deals if you look for them and know where to look. Unlike MOST purveyors in this market, they look to source a lot of their products from local and Wisconsin producers. I think that they have sourced from every dairy co-op in the state of Wisconsin.

            Produce is of good quality at decent prices. Meat is pretty good. Deli is weak. Baked goods vary widely based on the bakery that you choose from.

            The MARKDOWNS are phenomenal. Recent specials have been 10# Roma tomatoes for 0.99. Ground sirloin for 0.99/lb. A lot of their meat markdowns are 0.99/lb.

            They are up to about 25% of my spend.

            TRADER JOES
            Having shopped TJ's in SoCAL for years, the Chicago stores have been a major disappointment. The stores are crowded, poorly laid out, and the products are sourced differently than the SoCAL stores. The quality of the meat and the "fresh foods" are really pretty poor. In several of their stores, I have found out of date merchandise.

            I still buy some of their staple items when the
            prices are reasonable. Some of the items that I would always buy at TJ's like coffee, I have been ordering through mail order from other sources.

            Other places worth a note:

            EUROFRESH, Palatine
            On Friday, I finally made it to Caputo's on Harlem after hearing so much about the place. Personally, I prefer Eurofresh, although they are pretty similar.

            Great deli, good produce at a reasonable price, very average meat, good bakery selections. I make the 25 mile drive about twice a month to stock up.

            ARMANDOS, Elgin
            This is my favorite Mexican grocery and it is a lot better than the locals. Great prices on produce. Also some great street food out front. Better than LaRosita in McHenry Co.

            The dynamic that I have problems with in this market is that in general, the independents are CHEAPER than the large chains who have the buying power and the power to push manufacturers for slotting fees. In any other market that I lived in, the supermarket chains were cheaper and the independents had to offer great service to stay alive.

            That is my .02 worth.

            1. re: jlawrence01

              That's way more than .02 cents. Quite the comprehensive survey. For what it's worth:

              We get our staples at the Foster/Sheridan Dom's because it's there and we're there. They've certainly had their ups and downs over the years. Even with the current uncertainties about the parent co's inability to find a buyer etc., they seem slightly better than they were at their nadir some years ago.

              There was a time when items were regularly mispriced and no visit went by without a final trip to the service desk for refunds. I wrote a letter once to the manager, because the sight of older people and immigrants not able to check their receipts and just getting ripped-off in front of me was driving me crazy. I and received no reply.

              There's much less of that now and I have to say that the melting pot crew of Romanian's, slavs, hispanics, African-Americans etc. are virtually all pleasant to deal with and working under very difficult conditions.

              Both the Montrose/B'way and the Berwyn/Broadway Jewels seem to have higher prices and worse produce. The liquor selection is better at Jewel and their baked goods marginally better, though that is really a distinction without a difference. Jewel will sell you a roll of quarters for laundry w/ no surcharge. Doms charges .25 for the roll, which infuriates me.

              The Thorndale 'super-Doms.' is spacious, has much more product and is nicer to shop in. It's also right near Bornhoffen's meat market, so you can get your basics and good meat in one easy trip.

              I like the Ravenswood Trader Joe's a lot. Great prices on soy milk, various coffees/teas. Cheap wines to experiment with. All sorts of snacks and chips. Also greek style and organic yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. Decent bread, both packaged sandwich loaves and the fresh baguettes. Nice variety of salsas.

              I have noticed some out of date items in the refrigerator cases however, from time to time.

              I can't get over them selling the Macy's cheese straws for like a dollar less than anywhere else. I love those things.

              Also like their various breakfast cereals.

              Whole Foods has just become too high end for us and we're rarely there. We do try to get to People's in Evanston when we can.

              1. re: mrbarolo

                I have found the Jewel at Montrose & Broadway to be dirty, frequented by some scary people, and lacking in the Customer Service area; 2 lanes open for 20 people is just dumb. I try to avoid it at all costs, even though its the closest store to my house.

                I tend to frequent the "big Jewel", as it's known in my neighborhood, at Ashland & Wellington, or the Southport Jewel, if I need to just run in for a few things. I have found both of these stores easy to shop, clean, fairly well stocked (except for some reason, it's impossible to find 2 liters of Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi at either store), quick to open new lanes when the store gets crowded, and open to suggestions of products to carry.

                I occassionally get to the Dominick's at Wrightwood & Clybourn and usually enjoy it, except for the fact that I am used to the layout of Jewel stores and sometimes have to backtrack when there.

                I also occasionally go to the Trader Joe's at Lincoln & Grace and enjoy their offerings.


              2. re: jlawrence01

                My findings are about the same, although I would say that Trader Joe's offers many interesting food items at reasonable prices that one would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in this area.

                1. re: Nick

                  Jewel is by far the closest market to me, so I end up shopping there occasionally. It's a nightmare, especially since they put in the self checkouts. I have to say the people who work there are all very nice. But their selection is crap, their setup is illogical and they are always running out of things.

                  When I'm near a Sunset Foods in the suburbs, I always stop and pick up a few items I never see anywhere else. The prices are high and they seem to have an even bigger quotient of clueless shoppers than Whole Foods, which is saying a whole lot. (How does one rather small person manage to get in the way of half a dozen other people?)But they have an interesting selection and checkout always proceeds smoothly.

            2. re: Rich

              On weekends in Michigan, we shop at Meijier and love it. THe staff is extremely helpful, it seems like they actually like working there, the produce is of high quality and great prices, and the pantry items are often on sale with great prices. I haven't been in Illinois, but often stock up in Michigan due to the prices. I think Jewel is terrible, dirty and lack of selection/quality. Dominicks is slightly better. We live in Oak Park, so we shop at Whole Foods and at Certifiedland - an "old-fashioned" grocery store, with decent produce and unique products from around the world. I would check out a Meijier if there was one nearby.

              1. re: Rich

                I went to a Meijer's in Washington State with my sister a few years ago. The place was so damned huge I'm convinced that if I weren't with her I'd still be wandering around looking for my way out.

                1. re: mw

                  There are no Meijer stores in either Washington State or DC, in fact nowhere near either one. The 220+ Meijer stores are located in Michigan,
                  Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois. Could be thinking of Fred Meyer
                  Supermarkets but they're not that large.

                2. re: Rich

                  Valli Produce is one of the best values in the Chicagoland area. They have a wide selection, the produce is top quality, and you cannot beat the price.

            3. h
              Hank Baldpate

              On the whole I think Dominicks beats Jewel, even after the buyout by Safeway. Still, isnt the shopping experience at both truly horrible? How many times have you been there during the dinner hour when 5/10 lines are closed and the lines are winding into the aisles? I would gladly pay a premium to have a checker and a bagger at each line at all times. Maybe they'll even say hello and make eye contact!

              1. Count me as one who frequents both stores, considering my proximity to both. But the main reason is because there are certain items I like that are carried by one, but not by the other, so depending on whether or not I need a specific item, that's how I choose. The trick, however, is remembering which store carries what. I will agree that some specific stores are better than others. The Dominick's on Howard/Clark is notorious for being crowded with 2 lanes open and lines backing up into the aisles. The Jewel on Howard/McCormick is pretty decent.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mw

                  I quit shopping at that Dominick's for precisely that reason. I found that it actually took less time to go to the Jewel at Plaza del Lago in Wilmette and come back to Rogers Park, no joke. Also, that Jewel has all kinds of stuff you don't find at the average Jewel, e.g., La Brea Bakery breads, Dean & DeLuca herbs and spices, edible flowers, etc. They manage to pack a LOT into that little store. Good staff, too.

                  1. re: peg

                    I agree about the Jewel in Plaza Del Lago-- it's the nearest grocery store to the place where I grew up and it spoiled me horribly for grocery stores.

                    The fact that it is small is great-- you don't have to walk a block to get from the produce section to the dairy section the way you do with the larger stores!

                2. I think it is wrong to assume that we don't shop there because they are the two most easily accessable grocery stores in our city. The Jewel closest to me (Ashland/Roosevelt) actually has a decent selection of ethnic foods, mostly Mexican. The Dominick's on Halsted and Madison has above average meat and produce, maybe because of the Yuppies in the area. But sometimes I think that Dominick's has fewer sales. I try to make frequent trips to Stanley's fruit market and the occassional Whole Foods and Trader Joe's trips. I, like Antonius, am eagerly awaiting the arrival of Whole Foods in our area.

                  1. Both bad with Jewel a shade better. No reason to shop at either one of them with all the ethnic markets and indeoendents like Treasure Island,Tony's or Butera.