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Apr 13, 2008 02:51 PM

Venice finally gets a decent grocery store

Whole Foods is moving into the old Big Lots space in the Lincoln/Rose shopping center in Venice. I'd love to have a Trader Joe's, too, but I can't get greedy.

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  1. Well, WF is certainly a grocery store, but I would say it's a stretch to call it "decent".
    If for no other reason, because of the "organic" aura cultivated through pure marketing, and now used to push mostly conventional produce at utra high prices.

    7 Replies
    1. re: RicRios

      i LOVE the whole foods in el segundo.
      i buy a lot of food from their bulk bins which is very high quality AND very reasonably priced.
      also, we like their organic 365brand cold cereals and crackers.

      most importantly, though, they are the only place in town that i can get the VALRHONA cocoa powder that i need to satisfy my addition to ice-blended mochas.

      1. re: RicRios

        Don't get me wrong -- I'm still going to stick to farmers markets for all my produce and I still like Trader Joe's for a lot of products. However, it'll be nice to have a convenient grocery store that carries Strauss Farms milk, Vermont Dairy cheese, a decent cheese selection, etc. I am not in love with Whole Foods, but I will acknowledge that they carry a lot of quality products. So does Santa Monica Coop, but their prices are higher than Whole Foods for the few items I've price-compared. The hype surrounding Whole Foods is admittedly unjustified, but I think we have to give the devil his due and acknowledge that Whole Foods is better than the Ralph's and Albertsons that we currently have in Venice. You can concede that much, right?

        1. re: glutton

          I must confess, I'm spoiled.
          I live in a neighborhood chock full of ethnic, independents, mom&pop stores, you name it.
          Facts of the matter are:
          a) I haven't set foot in a corporate WF / Ralph / Vons &etc in years.
          b) My grocery bills have been cut literally in half since I quit the CAGAN
          (Corporate America Groceries And Nutrition). Pun intended.
          c) I learned by experience that the media and marketing infinitely pounded and promoted brainwashing notion that "Bigger is better" is pure absolute 100% hogwash.

        2. re: RicRios

          Yeah, they don't call it Whole Paycheck for nothing!!!

          1. re: RicRios

            I find it ranges in quality from location to location, but it's almost always the best grocery store around.

            1. re: aventinus

              I guess it depends on your definition of "best". I think their pricing is outrageous. I also don't think their seafood counter looks especially fresh. We have one of the Wild Oats stores that converted to a Whole Foods, and I noticed the uptick in pricing right away. If I remember that Big Lots location it isn't very big, so don't expect a giant food court like the one in Manhattan Beach.

              1. re: mlgb

                they took over the Big Lots and the old Sav-On Drugs, so it's a pretty good sized piece of real estate. It probably still won't beat the monster in El Segundo, but that's fine. Miuch of the real estate in El Segundo is chewed up by prepared foods areas and non-food products, which don't interest me very much.

          2. To my surprise, the Whole Foods here in Westwood sells its housebrand milk and not from concentrate OJ at prices that are barely above Trader Joe's. You can also occasionally find a super special sale on a particular item of produce that reduces it to a competitive price. Everything else, and I do mean everything, helps it richly deserve its nickname of Whole Paycheck.

            1. glutton, have you seen the new Marina Del Rey Pavillon's in the Marina Mall that has Jerry's Deli and Nichol's Coffee Shop? I haven't been in but it's an impressive looking place from the outside in terms of the architecture. One of these days after dinner at Nichol's we intend on dropping in and seeing what they have.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Servorg

                To be honest, I was severely disappointed with the new Pavillion's in MdR. It does look great from the outside, and has outdoor seating in front as well as on the south side of the store, but the various counters that SHOULD be competing with Gelson's, Ralph's, and even Bristol Farms up on the hill (and Whole Foods coming into Venice), just don't measure up - not even close to competing with the other stores that are pushing full-serve and self-serve counters. Also, the selections of cheeses, breads, wines, beers, etc., and other foodie-related goodies are only slightly better than what they had before in their previous incarnation as Von's. You'll find a more varied selection of unique or harder to find goods at your local TJ's and when put next to a Whole Foods, there's no contest. It's great for basic groceries, but don't waste your time if you're looking for a mind-blowing selection...

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  That's too bad. I guess you can't judge a grocery store by it's packaging. I did notice that the Ralph's on Olympic and Barrington is remodeling the interior of the store with new "wood" bin type islands for the produce in the middle of the grocery section. They do look nice.

                2. re: Servorg

                  The Pavillion's in the Marina is alright for some things. They've got a tremendous bakery, and their fresh breads are out of this world. Other than that, you might as well be in Ralph's. Their produce, meats, and fish are all terrible, cheese selection is sub par, and the deli is just servicable.

                  I'm excited to have WF open and have another option for meat and poultry other than Gelsons. I've actually trecked all the way up to Manhattan Beach to the Monster WF there for rack of lamb, strip steaks and cheeses.

                  Hopefully, even if I never set foot in the Venice WF, it will at least clean up that corner.

                3. any idea when it's scheduled to open?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: fleurgrrl

                    I was told one year by the folks at WH on National/Barrington in March.

                    1. re: fleurgrrl

                      From a WF employee, I think they're shooting for August 2008.

                    2. This is an interesting discussion. I can understand why glutton is excited (despite the WF "hype") and RicRios disgusted. The bottom line is that for some of us, and especially those of us interested in the politics of food production and consumption, there are no easy solutions when it comes to finding the groceries we want, especially if you're one of finite means.

                      Want (relatively) locally-sourced and/or organic,"sustainable," or pesticide-free produce? Find time in your schedule (and money in your pocketbook) to hit a farmers market or join a CSA. Otherwise, go to WF, TJoe's, or any other "corporate" (and, alas, independent) grocery store and navigate the dizzying array of produce sources (China, Mexico, South America as well as CA, WA, FL) and growing practices as well as produce quality.

                      Even if one regularly buys "conventional" produce, places like Pavillions do not consistently offer good product at decent prices. I cannot tell you how many times I've stopped into Pavillions, Ralphs, etc. only to be irritated by what they charge for oftentimes mediocre conventional produce.

                      Want a wide selection of organic dairy products (many of which have their own problems, but this is for another post)? Want a fairly wide selection of "gourmet" or "foodie' or high-end items? Give in to WF and expect to pay an arm and a leg.

                      Want to buy a wide variety of bulk staple items like rice, beans, oatmeal, lentils...? WF is just about it (please, please tell me of somewhere else if you can; I don't think the S.M. Co-op is much better than WF).

                      I could go on about buying seafood and meat as well as other staples, but I won't.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cakewhole

                        You raise a fair point about the politics of eating and the near-hopelessness of trying to make wise choices that balance your goals of eating healthy food, eating sustainably raised food, etc. Myself, I am less encumbered by some of these competing factors because taste and quality trump most everything in my mind. That means I am a heavy user of farmers markets in Santa Monica, Venice, and elsewhere. And I like really fresh fish, so I'll stick with my Snata Monica Seafood habit. So, why was I happy about the prospect of WF moving into Venice when I buy the vast majority of my groceries at farmers markets each week? Because there are some high quality products at WF that are inconvenient for me to buy right now. A chunk of aged gouda? A gallon of Straus Creamery milk? Some spelt? Some cheap Luna bars? A grassfed flank steak? As critical as I have been of the righteousness of the WF marketing machine, I have to admit that they do a pretty good job providing a lot of ingredients that I like. I don't need to love or hate WF -- I can like some things and not like other things.

                        I won't stop shopping at all the little random ethnic grocery stores (don't worry Camaguey, Jon's, and Jordan Market), but now I've got a really convenient option when I need some staples quickly and don't want to drive up to the Wilshire Blvd WF, fight for parking to pay high prices at the Santa Monica Co-op, or fight for parking at the TJ's on Pico. A few things in my life just got a little bit easier, thanks to this new store.

                        1. re: glutton

                          Although many aspects of WF are deeply troubling, it's still where I buy certain staples (Clover milk, bulk organics) and certain specialty items that I budget for (at least for now). I'm happy I have it as an option but hold my nose when it comes to other aspects of the WF aura/marketing/other problems. There has been a lot of well-founded criticism of the company lately, and sometimes it even seems to hear some of this critique. I supplement with farmers market trips and TJs, hoping for "better" options in the future.

                          In any case, you're right: it's really nice when life gets a bit easier.