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The Fresh Market?

I was approached by one of their reps scouting for as location here. Those of you in the know, is this just another grocery store or something out of the ordinary? Our two biggies here are Kroger and Marsh. Marsh is an Indiana chain, seems to be hanging on by their fingernails, they also have a smaller store, their supposedly, up-market store O'Malia's which is pretty ordinary too. We do have a pretty good co-op and a number of Asian markets and international stores, also a very active farmer's market. I was encouraging, competition makes for better selection and values. So what do you know?

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  1. FM is a very upscale grocer, similar in many respects to Whole Foods. Very high quality produce and meat, specialty items, lots of prepared foods, high prices. If you can afford it, its great...more of a special ocassion place for me.

    1. There is one in Philly near the UPenn campus. I don't know if they are all like this, but the store there has a deli where you can get an enormous sandwich (they regularly clock in at well over a pound) for about $5. The place is swarmed at lunch time!

      2 Replies
      1. re: punkin712

        Is Fresh Grocer the same as Fresh Market?

        1. re: leepinleemur

          Ugh! Probably not...my bad. I must have been hallucinating about those sandwiches and totally confused the names.

      2. I love the Fresh Market....they are pricey, as mentioned, but I love their quality. They have a nice selection of cheeses, their bakery is wonderful, their produce is on par with Whole Foods, they have some great selections in their freezer case, and they definitely have some different items in their grocery.

        They have a nice selection of bulk candies, nuts and "trail mixes" of different kinds. Best wasabi peas in town. Wine and Beer also, sometimes decent sales. Their meat and fish are also good. Their steaks (we had the filets) were incredibly tender.They have a great smoked salmon. I'm not really wild about their prepared foods actually. I love their samples of coffee (try the Morning Blend...mmmm) and their crab dip.

        My favorite is probably the bakery. When we have special occasion, I usually bake something but if I don't have time, we love to get a variety of the "mini" desserts from TFM and share them. They have delicious mini cannolis, cream puffs, eclairs, cheesecakes, and also tiramisu by the "slice" a creamy almond thing, bourbon nut bars, chocolate mousse cake, and the list goes on...they really have a great selection and it's all good. Their sourdough bread is wonderful, and my 8 year old would love it if I took him there every day for a fresh baked croissant. (I don't :-)

        They have a website, which might give you more info too. Enjoy! It's one of my favorite places, though I can't shop there on a regular basis because of the prices (and the calories :-)

        1. Shopping at the Fresh Market is the most serene, pleasant grocery shopping you will ever do. Start with a sample cup of coffee, enjoy the classical music (no crappy pop music, or overhead paging for help in bulk foods aisle), get a refill on your coffee. Buy the bulk herbs and spices because the price is great, compared to bottled at any regular grocery store. Buy meat and fish because it's really fresh, and looks, and tastes, great. Up until March, I used to buy a dozen roses each week, because TFM sold them for $7.99. I'm still adjusting to the new price, $8.99, so I haven't bought them recently. Try all the weekend samples, as they will quell your hunger enough to finish your shopping, without going overboard. I have a friend that works for TFM, and he assures me that if you want black-eyed peas in Minnesota, the store manager can get them for you. In short, buy fresh stuff at The Fresh Market. Buy the rest at your nearby grocery store.

          I DON'T shop at TFM for things like laundry detergent, dish detergent, toilet paper, coffee creamer, etc.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gg007

            I forgot about the bulk herbs and spices! Yes, undoubtedly the best place to buy these!

          2. sounds perfect for this market. Thaks to all!


            1. I'm not sure I agree with all the above comments but that may be on a market by market basis.

              My local FM is rather small but will be moving into a larger location by the end of this month. Still, it is smaller than your standard mega-grocery. I wouldn't really compare it to Whole Paychex as FM is not pretensious, does not have a "greener than thou" attitude, and doesn't pretend to be a real healthfood store. It is somewhat upscale but, for the most part, I don't find its prices to be much higher than our local chain, Harris Teeter. Produce prices are frequently comparable.

              I love their meat counter. The selection is not always the broadest but the quality is excellent for the price. The bulk bins are a treat and the freshly made sandwiches can be a very nice alternative to fast food hell.

              Very pleasant, civilized atmosphere. No, you shouldn't even try to get staples there but it's a great alternative to have.

              1. Dh and I love Fresh Market (my guess is this thread will be moved to the Chains board at some point). Meats and cheeses are phenominal as are many of their prepared foods.

                1. There are two FMs in Charlotte. Both are beautiful stores with excellent cheese, produce, meats and seafood as well as a wide variety of brands and products that aren't usually available here. In addition, they have a great wine section and also beautiful flowers and a good selection of chocolate. It is usually a lot more expensive than Harris Teeter, so I don't do my regular shopping there but go for holidays and when we entertain. Other than the prices, the other thing that keeps me from doing more shopping there is that neither location allows you to bring your shopping cart out into the parking lot so you have to go out to your car with a cashier who helps you carry everything out. Very awkward and inconvenient.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: southernitalian

                    Thats a store by store policy....I have never been to one that that was the case.

                  2. Don't know anything about Fresh Market except that it was the grocery store used in Top Chef Miami. So I'm assuming there's a good number of upscale ingredients there and would be relatively well stocked.

                    1. The Marsh's and Krogers in Indianapolis are pretty decent(barring a couple glaringly horrible ones). O'Malia's is actually a step down from the better examples of the aforementioned. They're actually building a Fresh Market just around the corner from me, it should open this Summer. The other Fresh Market in town is underwhelming; plebian cheese selection(hard to find good cheese in Indy...even at the local fromagerie), the stuff on the international aisles you can find in more variety and cheaper at the stores catering to the various ethnic communities. One thing they excel at is pristine(expensive) produce. I'll be happy to have a market in walking distance, but Fresh Market, in general, is nothing to get excited about. Think a MOR Whole Foods or Wild Oats without the heavy ideology.

                      1. It is great for specialty items or for entertaining, but extremely expensive for many items, they make Harris Teeter look affordable.

                        They are great for those who can't/don't want to cook, and are willing to pay very inflated prices for prepared foods ($8 for 2 skinny wedges of quiche, come on!).

                        They do know where to build stores, the ones located here in Raleigh/Cary area are very strategically placed, and are usually very buzy.

                        I can guarantee you that many of their prepared foods are not as "fresh" as you would think, many are brought in and just packaged in store, I know our local ones don't decorate any of their cakes in store, there is a higher than average number of items prepared in store compared to a regular grocery store, just not as many as you would think.

                        1. They opened one in Metro Detroit some time back, but it didn't last for long. The local upscale markets killed it.

                          1. Wow -- I didn't know that the Fresh Market had expanded to so many locations. It is a NC-based chain and has provided excellent quality and service for many, many years. If you are in real estate leasing or a related field, I would suggest that your pull demographics where the average income is fairly high. Wonderful quality of products - great bakery and deli - good wine selection - fresh produce - nice floral selection ... definitely land TFM if you can.

                            1. I love, love, love, LOVE the Fresh Market. It's definitely not the place to go for staples, but their meat, fresh cheeses, prepared foods and floral selection are second to none. My husband buys me a dozen roses there every month or so (they're only $8.99/dozen here), and I swear they're beautiful for almost that entire time. The lilies last even longer than that.

                              I would disagree with the earlier poster that compared Fresh Market to Whole Foods. There's nothing of the earthy/crunchy/hippie vibe that seems to permeate every WF I've ever been in - it's a much more upscale atmosphere that carries regular brands in addition to organic and specialty items.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Suzy Q

                                Yeah...that's what I said in my post: no crunchy, hippy "organic" vibe. Of course "upscale" is in the eye of the beholder. I don't shop at a store just because it's perceived as being "upscale" and WF, imo, has been "upscale" for decades(in comparison to it's Texan vitamin-reeking tree-hugger roots). Fresh Market is a pretty store(if you grok that prefab warehouse aesthetic)...but, if you scratch beneath the surface it doesn't offer anything you can't find at comparable markets. FYI: I'm not a big consumer of supermarket prepared foods...nor, do I frequent the bakery case. If that's what you expect from a grocery store, more power to you. Yes, Fresh Market sometimes has pretty flowers(can you eat them?)...

                                Again, I like their produce, their cheese selection is sub TJ's(if that's even possible...it's all brie, manchego, bleus, and smoked products...perfect for that suburban deli tray).

                                Good coffees

                                fun, if uninspiring, nut/candy bins

                                the odd sale on cupboard staples

                                Overpriced, middle of the road wines

                                Did I mention the stores are pretty?

                                ...I was excited to finally try a Fresh Market when we moved near one(and I'm interested to see if the one being built nearby is any better), but after shopping there a few times I don't see how they distinguish themselves...

                                The new Fresh Market will be a boon in my area if only because it straddles the line between TJ's/WF/WO/and Kroger's, etc. From my neighborhood you have to drive to shop anywhere but a terrible Safeway. So...by dint of mere proximity I'll shop there. But product-wise it's nothing special: it doesn't offer the width and breadth of cheese selection at some big city Whole Foods, they don't carry any products unique to their stores that I can't easily find elsewhere often for less, and, a large portion of their offerings is of the "ready-to-eat" variety(bins, deli cases, baked goods)...personally, I'd rather patronize a bakery or florist or deli. So this "convenience" aspect doesn't mean much.

                                1. re: aelph

                                  Though their early strategy seems to have involved a lot of going in to areas that are considered to be too small for TJ/WF to go in to. The comparison point for my local Fresh Market is a Publix in a nice part of town (translation- good for general groceries and middlebrow sepcialties, but not a WF)

                                  Publix wins on produce (FM tends to look pretty at the expense of taste) on bakery because they do more of their stuff on-site, on having a full cleaning products aisle instead of two small shelves of toilet paper and windex

                                  Fresh Market wins on keeping specialty product in stock better (they always have Fage, and Publix is out of it half the time) on cheese, non-mainstream sodas, and on deli items except for rotisserie chicken (Publix's is better and cheaper)

                                  Ethnic foods are a wash- each store has stuff you can't find at the other one.

                                  1. re: beachmouse

                                    I always wonder if their meats are that much fresher than Publix or just displayed better. I find their prices produce way above my usual Publix but on some things like fresh bread they are way above in quality and their selection of cheeses is good. I have found some really good Califorina EVOO there that was better than what I would find at Publix.

                                    1. re: beachmouse

                                      People keep mentioning Publix(which I've heard of of course), but I've never lived in an area that had them.

                                      1. re: aelph

                                        They're the big player in Florida with some forays into Georgia, Tennessee, and, I think, South Carolina. In terms of mass market grocers, they're not quite up to Wegman's standards, but a Publix in an UMC area tends to be a very good shopping option for a number of products.

                                        My sister just moved from NYC to small metro Georgia, and was very relieved to find a Publix there because otherwise the grocery situation would have been horrible.

                                        1. re: beachmouse

                                          Yep - we had Publix in South Carolina and now that I live in North Carolina, I miss them like crazy. There are no grocery stores that compare to Publix, IMHO.

                                    2. re: aelph

                                      If you live in area with established specialty and/or ethnic markets, then yes, you can find most of FM's offerings else where. Many of their earlier locations were in areas that did not have those offerings - so FM was a godsend if you were interested in more than just the usual basic supermarket selections. While there is some overlap between FM & WF, their focuses are not the same and really can't be compared. Just like you can't compare a TJ to a regular, large grocery. Both sell food, but with a differing focus.

                                      The term "upscale" in this case refers to product lines. FM is not the place to go if you are trying to get the most from a limited food budget. However, if your budget has more flex and you want fresh favas or imported French lentils rather than regular limas - then FM would be of interest. My household income is ridiculously low and my interest in food perhaps ridiculously high. Consequently I spend a higher % of my $ on food and within my market FM is a good choice for some items. Do I go because they are "upscale"? No, I go because they have what I want and offer excellent quality and service. They have a higher staff ratio than most groceries, and it makes for a nice difference. Most grocery stores in my area offer very little service in the meat departments - most everything is pre-packed. Fresh Market has not one, but several people there to answer questions, let you closely examine the fish, make a cut to your liking...that is an anomaly in many, many markets these days! So yes, they do tend to set up shop in higher rent parts of town - but the residents there have the income to shop there more frequently - makes perfect sense!

                                  2. We just had a Fresh Market open in our area- it is small but very nice. One unexpected benefit was that it forced Kroger to upscale its own offerings, so now we have a choice of where to go! And honestly, I now find Kroger to be better than FM in most things, including their cheese selection. Kroger's meats are actually more expensive though, so go figure....

                                    1. Having The Fresh Market as an option in your town would be a good thing. I enjoy browsing their aisles, sipping today's coffee sample (or hot apple cider sample during the holidays). When I had an income, I actually shopped there for special items and when they'd have sales on organic produce.

                                      I still pop in for the occasional splurges on dessert (you MUST try their Tuxedo Truffle Napoleon, Raspberry Almond Cake, and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie), and their antipasto bar--they have a great variety of stuffed olives, peppers (including the most beautiful peppadews). Sometimes I go just to soak of the atmosphere of this gem of a market. There are several The Fresh Markets across South Florida.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: h2Bn

                                        Yes, we have one in Naples...and then Whole Foods came after Fresh Market; both seem to be doing very well. I will say that when I need good-quality lamb shoulder for a lamb stew, that's my go-to, Fresh Market. They also do some quality food gifts around the holidays, too. I don't go very often but I've found a few grocery items at Fresh Market at LOWER prices than Publix.

                                        1. re: Val

                                          Yes, they do have some things that aren't available everywhere- when we needed a veal shank, it was the first place we tried- they didn't have any in the case, but the butcher went in the cooler and found some!

                                          Unfortunately, almost every time we go, we end up needing to go somewhere else for something on our ingredient list. They didn't have leeks one time, okra another, fennel another. And it wasn't due to being out of season- I ended up getting the okra from my neighbor next door- straight out of his garden!

                                          1. re: Clarkafella

                                            oh, too bad...but YAY! for having something fresh out of a garden, that's the best and quite a trend today, let's hope it grows (heh, sorry for the pun)...I use less and less red meat anymore but for St. Patrick's Day, we do like some kind of lamb dish, so who knows if they'll have what I need this coming March.

                                          2. re: Val

                                            Maybe because Publix has raised their prices. Ginger root at $4.99/lb and Honeycrisp apples $3.99/lb at Publix is just a big high IMO. It would be one thing if the ginger was superior quality but I've seen really crappy looking produce at Publix. On quite a few occasions I've had to get the produce manager to remove old produce past it's prime from the shelf.

                                        2. I think it's deceiving for the comparisons to Whole Foods that most people assign to TFM as they barely carry any organic/free-range/grass-fed products in their market. Sure, it's a lovely place to shop but it's outrageously priced for the same items that you can generally find in a regular market (sans the coffee, chocolate, and prepared foods). I went there looking for ingredients to cook a braised short rib recipe and when I spoke with a clerk there he informed me that they don't really carry the items I was looking for because "most people who shop there don't know how to cook." Yikes. I'll stick to a real grocery store, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Erika RollerGirl

                                            This. TFM opened up about four miles from my house and I went to check it out. Very disappointing, particularly the meat section, which I'd hoped would have grass-fed options. The store looked great and was nicely laid out but there was nothing in there I couldn't have found anywhere else for less money. But every time I go by it the parking lot is full so I guess they're doing all right.

                                            1. re: Erika RollerGirl

                                              So is it similar to Trader Joes? With the majority of their offerings being ready made?

                                              1. re: odkaty

                                                No, it's more like a traditional supermarket although they do have a lot of ready-made stuff.

                                            2. Fresh Market is like shopping in heaven. The experience, the food, the service, the atmosphere.....it's all perfection. The music they play is so relaxing and the whole store is a merchandising masterpiece. You really feast your eyes on the food before you ever buy it. 100% awesome....aside from the fact that it costs an arm and a leg and I can hardly afford it.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: hoosier_gourmetgirl

                                                "I can hardly afford it." is right! ...I sure wish they took EBT cards. I wish they get on the ball with that like Whole Foods but I suppose they can be different!
                                                But luckily I am not down on my luck financially, (Medical disability) that I can't go there if ever I want quality meat or great bread.