Costco - Florida's cutting edge market (yes, I'm deriding Publix)
A post on another chowhound board inspired me to extoll the virtues of Costco, especially our South Florida locations. Given the sorry state of affairs at our local and well loved Publix chain, I've turned to the bulk warehouse chain for items which are run of the mill in other parts of the country, but either ridculously expensive or non-existent in the peninsula. Marcona almonds for instance. These nuts from Spain blow away the local teardrop variety and go great with sherry (as Spanish food should). At markets around South FLA these nuts are as much as $18.00 a pound (and no, Publix doesn't carry them) but Costco has them for around $9 for a can. Niman Ranch meats, also either impossible to find or expensive as heck, Costco has meats and Niman Ranch sausage. Pate de foie gras during X-mas, Ranier cherries and gala melons in the summer, Copper River salmon right now.
So the question is how can a warehouse chain, whose priority is to sell the most common household items in bulk and at low prices, carry these "foodie" items while our local supermarket chain, which should be more in touch with its consumers, does not?
Have to agree about Publix. I have been more and more frustrated with them for some time. The meat has always been a dissapointment and I refuse to even buy ground chuck there anymore. Although the new Sweet Bays are little more than a cosmetic upgrade from the old Kash & Karry I have noticed that since they were converted here Publix has recently reopened their meat departments so that you can actually talk to the butcher and even seem to be stocking more ethinc foods than before. The only thing I go to publix for is Boars Head deli meat which is much better than the dreck that is sold at the other chains in the area. We don't have a Costco in Sarasota but there have been rumors lately.
I think it has to do with a similar phenomenon I've noticed near me:
I live very close to both a Wal-Mart SuperCenter and a SuperTarget. I've noticed recently that Target's meats, while always of better quality than Wal-Mart, on occasion tend to be cheaper, especially in larger quantities and in half-prepared items like stuffed pork chops you bake at home.
I think it's because, wonderful that SuperTarget is, they're caught in the wrong niche. People who shop at Wal-Mart buy their meat there. People who can afford and prefer to shop at Target, buy their meat at specialty shops (there's an excellent butcher nearby). So they get stuck with too much and must sell, sell, sell.
I think the items you're finding at Costco are either in low demand here, or they got them at a surplus from somewhere else, which is why they can unload them quickly in discount stores.
As for Publix being in touch with its consumers, please hold while I try to control my laughter. :-P
Vince, if it makes you feel any better, I just recently moved from Sarasota to Hollywood, FL and the Publix stores in Sarasota are way better. Do you use the University location? If not, check it out. I've come to realize now that that location was just much nicer than other Publixs in general. I guess it spoiled me. I never really found fault with their meat or produce. Now I live near the Young Circle Publix, which mocks me on a daily basis. When I first went in there, it was like seeing an old, fondly remembered friend who, over years of absence, had let themselves go. It was like Winn-Dixie, prominent security guard and all. Still, to that location's credit, I was able to walk over there last night and get some decent broccoli rabe. It could be worse.
I have been to the University store a couple of times and it is very nice. This is however a flagship store with every bell and whistle that Publix offers including the Apron's cooking school. Your store in Hollywood sound like the old Ringling Plaza store in Sarasota. I had to stop in there a few weeks ago and it was like stepping though the looking glass. It was dark, dirty and depressing. In general I realy admire the level that Publix does maintain at most of their stores my biggest problem with them is the selection of specialty items and the quality of the meats.