Your local supermarket chains
Here in Orlando (and throughout Florida), Publix reigns supreme as the #1 supermarket chain. While some people on the Chowhound Florida board love to complain about them, I've always thought they were pretty good. Winn-Dixie was the big #2 in Florida for most of the last two decades (at least), but so many of them have closed their doors over the last few years. They were never nearly as good, though. We also have a few Albertsons' up here, but now it seems like some of them are closing as well, perhaps to be converted into new Publixes. Then of course you have Walmart SuperCenter and Super Target, and the high-end gourmet places like Whole Foods and Fresh Market (we don't have Trader Joe's in Florida yet).
Growing up in Miami in the '80s, I remember many other random supermarkets around town, all of which eventually closed or turned into Publix or Winn-Dixie. Grand Union, Pantry Pride, Wooley's, the hilarious-sounding Piggly-Wiggly, X-Tra. I wonder how many of those were declining national chains versus doomed local institutions. On that note, I was struck during a recent visit to New York City that they don't have many huge supermarkets up there, but count on little neighborhood market/convenience store/"delis" for all their grocery needs. Some of these were super-nice and some were dingy and crappy, but it was interesting considering you can't drive more than ten minutes here without hitting a gigantic Publix.
But what do you all have near you in your home towns? Where do you shop, and where do you go out of your way to avoid shopping?
Here in Richmond, VA we have a regional chain called Ukrops which is very popular and is the #1 store in the area even though they sell no alcohol and are closed on Sundays and holidays. Other places include Kroger, Food Lion (blech), and Fresh Market and a couple of local markets. We shop mostly at Fresh Market and Kroger. I avoid Food Lion at all costs.
The chain grocery stores here in the Chicago area are pretty bad.
Jewel, Dominicks, Meijer, etc all have pretty bad meat, and produce.
I go to a local butcher for meat, and poultry, and a fish market about an hour away for fresh fish, and some shellfish. Produce is purchased at farmers markets, or roadside farmstands in the summer. I also go to a place called Caputos for good produce, and a great deli selection. In the winter I have to take what I can get as far as veggies.
We do most of our shopping @ Super Wal-Mart, Korgers, and a small family owned grocer(Handy Foods) bad produce, & bad meat(we rarely get any at these places), but cheaper paper towels, t.p., canned goods, milk, butter, etc. Anything I can buy anywhere else I do(Mexican market, Filipino market, butcher shop, seafood supplier, liquor store, etc.)
The places I avoid - Trader Joes, I have no use for their gimmecky products, frozen fish, frozen foods, prepared foods, etc. Whole Foods, I do not eat organic foods, or wish to pay Whole Foods premium prices for meat that I can get cheaper, and better elsewhere, the same goes for their seafood. They do have nice looking produce, but I go elsewhere for that. I guess WF just goes against my lifestyle and beliefs.
In Tulsa, OK, used to be Albertson's and Homelands were king. The Albertson's pretty much closed down most of the Homelands, and then they were bought out and now are Food Pyramid. Still a few Homelands around, Reasor's is a store I tend to prefer. We also have a lot of Warehouse Markets, as well as the usual Super Targets, a Whole Foods, Walmart Neighborhood Markets and Sam's Club. I've heard there is a Piggly Wiggly somewhere in town, but have never seen it. Oh, and there is one Aldi's.
Florida Panhandle checking in. When we moved here, it was Winn-Dixie, Walmart, Delchamps, and Albertson's for the most part. Delchamps went bankrupt and the local stores ended up as either Bruno's or Food World.
We shopped at Albertson's because it seemed to have the best quality and selection, and the prices were cheaper than what were used to when we lived in Tennesee. (Where it was a Walmart monopoly, and they jacked up the 'Always Low Prices' on everything. That experience is why I refuse to shop at Walmart to this day) The Delchamps/Bruno's/Food World stores were out of the way and not as good, and Winn-Dixie has lousy selection, high prices, and always seemed kind of dirty.
Publix moved into the area in 2000, and we immediately started going 10 miles out of the way to shop there. I know there are complaints about how awful they are in Miami. Seems like the further you get from Dade County, the better they get. Far better selection and far better prices than Albertson's, and the store always seemed very clean. They're also a good enough place to work that a surprising number of people who were there when the store opened are still there now, which says something because we went through a time when unemployment was less than 2%, and service industry jobs were going unfilled left and right.
The Albertson's is now in the process of being converted to a Publix. We went to their 'liquidation sale' and the prices on a lot of items were still more expensive than the same thing at Publix, which has a reputation for being the expensive place to shop. Truth be told, their prices on general milk, flour, hamburger, etc. may be more expensive than Walmart, but their middlebrow goods are cheaper than anyone else's middlebrow products.
Fresh Market's been in the area for about a year and a half now. There are a couple of things we get there that we can't find anywhere else, but they're xpensive and their produce (save for bananas) seems to be engineered to look pretty and ship well at the expense of tasting good.
North of Boston there are several chains:
Stop & Shop, in the process of reverting to Star Market, although some Shaw's still exist.
Hanneford, mostly in New England, I believe
Market Basket in MA, NH, and moving into ME
Trader Joe's is here in force,
We tend to avoid the largest chains like the plague and prefer to shop for fresh meats & veggies at farm stands or farmers markets. For general household goods Market Basket is our go to store.