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Market Basket heebie-jeebies

Billerica has 3 supermarkets and they are all MB. One of them is in my food shopping rotation. I shop primarily for lunch meat and veggies, some fruits. The veggies/fruits are hit-and-miss but when they're good, the prices are unbeatable. The day-old baked goods have some great deals. It's very convenient. However, the post about the MB seafood prices and freshness prompted me to write this post.

The MB nearest me is scruffy, down-at-the-heels dirty with staff that look beaten down and broken by sad life stories. Brown broccoli, bok coy with the leafy greens cut off, mottled squash, mushy cukes . . . not uncommon. Strips of plastic wrap in the lunch meats on occasion. Meat dept personnel that wheel those shelves/carts around liket they're hoping to hit someone. When I ask the staff where something is, I get a lank wave of the arm with a vague answer of "over there".

I would no sooner buy seafood here than take it out of a dumpster. Am I in a MB twilight zone? Are there cleaner, fresher, peppier-staffed MBs out there?

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  1. i stopped buy shellfish at MB when the practice of keeping the tags on hand went south.
    i have 3 in my area and the Sketchiest one has the best produce. the others are fine for most things.
    i don't usually buy meat there as i have a couple of full service butchers close by.

    1. The one in Somerville is hopping! Have never seen anything other than top-notch veggies and fruits. The staff is mostly kids from the neighborhood and they're generally great. It's a really lively place, always packed with shoppers, so probably lots of product turn-over that helps in the areas you mentioned.

      30 Replies
      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        Second our Somerville MB -- any time I've asked one of the guys to help me, they are cheerful and happy to help. I buy my fish elsewhere but that's not because I'm worried about MB's quality, I just like going to the fishmongers on Cambridge Street.

        I'm most impressed with the quality of the produce and the fine butchering. I love my MB, sorry your mileage varies.

        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          I lhave to defend the Somerville MB too! I was just there on Sunday and when they had no ground pork out, the meat guy offered to take some in back and grind it for me. The workers often smile at me or ask if I need anything in the produce area. They don't all understand some of the things I'm looking for, but they always try. I never get the people in our area who shop at Shaw's in Porter Square. I think it's an attitude thing: I'm a white 30-something professional, I should get off the T and grab something in a package from Shaw's prepared food section. I mean, _I'm_ a white 30-something professional and I relish the conversation in broken English I had with someone in the checkout line about the Goya brand frozen 5 lb bag of sardines she had which were also labeled "mackeral." People denigrate the place and go "eew, I'd never shop there." But let me tell you, when every cart coming out of the store is full to the brim with kale, batatas, and peppers the produce stays a lot fresher than at Shaw's where people leave with one banana and a yogurt. Sorry-- I got a little fired up there.

          1. re: Parsnipity

            Word.

            As a Haitian friend once told me when I first started shopping there ... "all god's children shop at market basket."

            For a real trip -- go on new years's eve. you will see carts overflowing with all the necessary provisions and a lot of jolly neighbors to talk with while waiting online.

            1. re: yumyum

              That's a great quote!
              The corollary is all Nietzsche's children shop at the Porter Square Shaw's. :-b

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                Hah...I will only be caught at Porter Square Shaws when I need to pick up something after midnight that only a 24-hr supermarket will have. Agree that it's otherwise useless.

                I don't live near that Somerville M.B. and haven't been there in years.

                1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                  what's wrong the porter square shaws? their produce seems fine, they have iggy's bread, our favorite brand of yogurt, they're clean, the people are friendly, prices are more or less on par with expectations, etc.? we just moved to the area and have found it to be a VAST improvement over the markets in jp where we lived previously, which had terrible selection/brown produce, extremely surly/uninterested teenage staff, mice running around and general decrepitude/dirtiness.

                  is the objection to a perception regarding the clientele, or something specific about the store?

                  1. re: autopi

                    The PS Shaw's is one of the favorite butts of local gallows humor. The way the management (used to?) guarantee long lines at the check was the stuff of Cambridge legend (in a bad way). And then that parking lot....

                    1. re: Karl S

                      I think it's the parking lot that is the 8th level of hell, not the market itself. Although, back in the day the market was much worse.

                    2. re: autopi

                      Based on my informal research, Porter Square Shaw's overprices nearly everything compared to competitors. A startling example - Newman's Own Lemonade/Limeade, etc. - Typically is $2.50 a carton at Shaw's - MB carries it for sometimes as low as $1.50 a carton. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The produce is usually not as good as MB's and much more expense (not to even mention comparison with Russo's).

                      Bottom line - they have a captive market as it's the only major supermarket on the Red Line north of the Charles. The prices reflect what the market can bear.

                      I have no problem with the folks who work there.

                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                        fair enough about the parking lot--we usually walk or bike, so i don't really notice most times. (and now that i think about it, the brookline trader joe's is far, far worse in that respect--yikes!)

                        i haven't yet been to the market basket, though the discussion here makes me think we should give it a shot. as you say, there's a premium i'm willing to pay for not having to spend extra time to get staples, though i haven't noticed it in particular at the porter square shaws vs. other area markets.

                        unless it's really a lot, the difference it would make in cost per month (vs. e.g. driving to russo's) would likely be negligible at best. but i don't have a lot of experience with cambridgeville grocery stores, so there you go.

                        i kind of imagine most grocery stores have a "captive market" not so much in what subway line they are on, but the immediate neighborhood (how long it takes to walk to that market vs. the next one over). this captive market happens to be a relatively affluent one.

                        1. re: autopi

                          The Somerville Market Basket parking lot is certainly pretty painful too and believe it or not Star used to be worse (they used to load groceries in the lot). Lines are a lot faster at MB, including for express/self-check out. For quick in and out, the Beacon Shaw's is a good bet for staples.

                          1. re: itaunas

                            The Beacon St. Shaw's is a ghost town! It's so weird. It's half a mile from the Porter Sq. shop and the Market Basket and I don't get how they stay in business.

                            1. re: dulce de leche

                              I go there for big shoppings of basic items (think brown sugar and paper towels), but in many years of shopping there, I have never, ever had to wait in line, a big plus, and I know right where to find what I am looking for without having to walk past ten aisles of stuff that doesn't even belong in a grocery store. And besides, it's so pleasantly close to Petsi's......

                          2. re: autopi

                            RE: Russo's - In terms of pure dollars to dollars cost, you are probably right that there is not a huge difference in price.

                            But I personally put a very high premium on the quality / price ratio -and the quality of the chow at Russo's is far and away superior to Shaw's so that even if the price is a wash, the quality difference makes it worth it to me to shop there.

                            As far as just dollars, it feels like Shaw's price-gouges because their population (of walkers) is literally more captive on the whole. Sure a few pennies here or there, no big difference. But that kind of thing just irks me as a consumer.

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              bob, you're absolutely right about the unbelievable produce at russo's. i meant--i see that this was unreasonable--to convey by "staples" things like packaged goods, king arthur flour, milk, cat litter, that sort of thing. not produce or meat, which i also go out of my way for.

                              i'd drive to russo's too, except our CSA and community garden plot are still going strong, plus i'm deterred by reports of peak time crowds & madness, which tends to make me daft.

                              one more off-topic question to those who find the prices at the porter shaws high: is this true of all shaws, or just this one?

                            2. re: autopi

                              In my experience, MB is roughly 20-30% cheaper than the Porter Square Shaw's. It's very rare to find something at MB that is not cheaper than Shaw's. MB's normal prices are in line with Shaw's sale prices.

                              If you're currently spending $60 a week for groceries at Shaw's, you'd save $50-70 a month by shopping at MB.

                              1. re: afty698

                                Exactly why I put up with the parking lot and craziness at MB -- it really is cheaper in the end for stuff you use every day.

                                I still shop at TJs, Wholefoods, Shaws and various butchers, fishmongers and cheese shops too. But staples all come from Market Basket.

                          3. re: autopi

                            My experience at Porter square shaws has been different from yours, autopi.

                            They don't have my particular favorite brand of yogurt, but Stonyfield at a dollar a holler. I like Stonyfield, but that's too high of a price.

                            The produce is not to my satisfaction. Once in a while some okay stuff but in general...low quality, picked through and/ or spoiled. At least during the
                            odd hours of the morning that I shop there.

                            Deli counter closed overnight, and pre-packaged deli meats and cheeses are more expensive than that at Whole Foods

                            No problem with the staff.

                            1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                              duly noted; i'm not trying to defend the shaw's. i'm just curious what the complaint is, and it sounds like it's (a) prices, and (b) complaints re: produce.

                              as to (a) i don't actually shop there that much, so i don't have a lot of data myself on prices etc.. prices for the non-produce things we get there seem about par for the course, with the probable exception of market basket--though then you apparently have to put up with the psychological trauma of the maddening crowds. but i defer to those who have more experience.

                              as to (b) i will say the dozen or so times i've been, the produce has *looked* just fine, and much better than the harvest coop and stop & shop in JP we were used to before. but i didn't look very closely, since i stopped buying produce months ago, once our csa got going.

                              1. re: autopi

                                now that this post has bubbled back up to the surface, let me report that i now agree that prices are a bit higher at the porter square shaws. not tremendously so, but 10-20% or so sounds like it's in the ballpark.

                                the produce is definitely Not Great. but for those of you who think it is the worst thing ever, i invite you to spend a few years shopping at the stop & shop, hilo and harvest coop in jp. you might come to appreciate the porter square shaws' cleanliness, selection and yes, even produce after that.

                                1. re: autopi

                                  Well, I'm dating myself, but the very worst market I've ever seen, and I didn't have a car so it was my only option, was Purity Supreme in Central Square, Cambridge. I HATED that store. Then the harvest coop opened up, which at least gave me some choice. Does anyone remember Purity?

                            2. re: autopi

                              (1) The prices are totally out of line. Shaw's will ask $4.99/lb for red peppers, while MB is asking $1.39/lb. Ditto $1.49/apples, while MB is $.79. No reason in the world except that Mr. Shaw's likes being rich. (2) The lack of stockers, and the lack of knowledge if you do find one. Good luck if you need something that's not on the shelf. You'll starve to death before you'll find a stocker or the stocker can find the item. At MB, they're cheerful and they know where everything is! If they need to get it from the back, they'll do it fast! And cheerfully. (3) Shaw's uses loss leaders to get you into the store, but they only stock 10 of that item so there you are, stuck. Yes, you can leave, but then it's a big waste of time and you have to plan a new menu, etc. I once freaked out at the manager because they had a loss leader on Brie, and guess what -- it was sold out by the time I got there! I was really mad, because it was about the tenth time that had happened. I got the manager and scolded him about loss leaders and abusing their customer base, and he got the cheese manager, and I got a giant wheel of Brie out of it. Really made me mad! It's only once that MB hasn't had what I wanted, which was canned pumpkin at T-giving. Very rare that they run out! Otherwise, it's there, on the shelf, stocked by cheery stockers. (4) Summer fruit at Shaw's is almost inevitable underripe, so it goes directly to rotten. I can't tell you how many canteloupes turned into mush in my kitchen. Ditto peaches. I finally started returning them, but what a pain in the butt! I wanted good fruit, not my money back or more bad fruit.
                              Plus the Shaw's clientele tend to be smug. But the ones who actually should be smug, but are too polite, are the MB shoppers who are getting much better/fresher food for a much lower price!
                              Okay, that's my rant. Thanks for letting me get it out, and happy new year to all you 'Hounds!

                      2. re: Parsnipity

                        No defense required. I wish I had a store like that near me.

                        1. re: three of us

                          I agree with all the above pro-Somerville posters - I find everything fresh excluding seafood. I have had a couple of bad fish experiences there so I do not buy seafood, except for the cheap lobsters which are generally shedders, but still a good deal and seem to be lively. Last Saturday I bought 6 chickens for $30.

                        2. re: Parsnipity

                          Yeah! What she says! I love our Somerville MB, as long as I don't try to shop at 6:00 on Friday. I go at 8:00 am on a Tuesday.

                          1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                            I like to go after 8 (usually about 8:30) on most evenings - it empties out nicely as closing time approaches.

                            1. re: annejudge

                              This reminded me of an evening when I went grocery shopping on a random Thursday at about 9pm, and remarked to the cashier how happy I was to have found a time when the store settles down and is nice and quiet. She deadpanned, "Well, most people are busy on Valentine's Day." Ouch.

                              1. re: Cachetes

                                Somerville MB was deserted* during a recent Pats playoff game.

                                * comparatively

                          2. re: Bob Dobalina

                            One more pro-Somerville MB story. This week I was doing my grocery shopping, and I was trying to find Wing It Buffalo wing sauce. I asked a guy who was stocking the shelves in the hot sauce area, and he said he didn't think they carried it. I went on my way.

                            I found my wing sauce in the next aisle with the foreign foods (no idea why). Continued shopping and 20 minutes later ended up back in the hot sauce area, looking for something else. The same guy noticed me and asked if I had found my wing sauce.

                            I was just really impressed that the guy remembered that I had asked about the wing sauce and seemed to actually care whether I found it.

                          3. The Tewksbury (On rte 38 near 495) location is the cleanest I have seen in the area. The fish there is hit or miss. You really have to get the stuff that looks and smells the freshest. Can't beat them for Lobsters though.

                            1. The fish in the Danvers market looks spectacular. I would only buy fish from a specific place but went in for other things and remarked to the fish monger how great the fish looked. He said they move more fish than any other MB?! I have bought fish occasionally from the Reading MB because they do a very high volume and it has always been good, steamers over the summer were EXCELLENT.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: 4chowpups

                                We've been augmenting our trips to Tendercrop and Conners farms with weekly trips to the Reading MB and everything so far has been wonderful....you really cannot beat their prices for all the necesary non-produce grocery items. The staff in the aisles are very helpful and we are very satisfied with the over-all appearance of the store.
                                Plus, the in house specials for fish have been excellent. We've been buying their wild caught fish and have been pleased with everything....

                                1. re: 4chowpups

                                  My dad was a lobsterman for 50 years and he knew his fish. He swore by the seafood at the Danvers Market Basket, even when he was selling lobsters to other area markets. The Middleton and Rowley stores are clean and well staffed too, but I haven't bought seafood there.

                                2. Funny you should mention it. We were at Sichuan Gourmet last Sat and decided to do grocery shopping while in the area. There are 3 all on rt3a as you mention. One was right next to S.G. one was south towards burlington and one was north.. We opted to go to the southern most one, (left out of the S.G. parking lot).. Seemed ok to us.. The northern most one (right out of the S.G. parking lot) looked ancient from the outside. We thought the one right next to S.G. looked like an older market from the outside too which is why we drove to see what the other one was like.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: hargau

                                    Actually, the one next to SG is the newest - because the one that was there burned and was rebuilt (maybe a decade ago? Time flies so it's a guess). But that mall is a chronic problem. The interior stores don't last - I live in town and haven't been inside in this century. For whatever reason, that MB is never busy. A good thing if there's a sale on something non-perishable and the other MBs have run out. I shop there on occasion - the Wilmington and Tewksbury MBs are closer to my side of Billerica - but am not surprised if some of the "fresh" stuff isn't up to snuff. Three of us, to which one were you referring?

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      Treble Cove Plaza. A rIght out of Sichaun Gourmet and keep going towards Chelmsford.

                                      1. re: three of us

                                        That one looked really old from the outside. Im not suprised. The older MB seem ghetto

                                  2. The Market Basket in Burlington is where I do a lot of shopping (where the linens and things is closing anf the Korean mart may go in). I never but their fish because its all prepacked. But everything is fine. Its my go to especially for veggies and fruit because its plentiful and fresh. Meats are good too. Its a smaller store but good.
                                    The one at the Woburn Mall is good too. I'll go there for fish - always fresh. Much bigger, has their own bakery, more selection overall- except surprisingly for fruit and veggies - they're better at the one in Burlington.
                                    Then there's a new one in Reading near Home Depot. Haven't been there though.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: chowmel

                                      I'm not a fan of prepackaged fish, but don't discount frozen (filets, etc., not processed) fish out of hand. Much of the industry freezes at the processor, before even shipping. Much of the "fresh" fish at any fish counter is defrosted from original flash freezing.

                                    2. The Woburn MB was remodeled a year or two ago. It's very nice.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: robertlf

                                        The Woburn MB is always packed with shoppers.

                                        And their seafood selection is always fresh, with a line of people on Saturdays. Can't beat their prices for seafood.

                                      2. Reading is wonderful and is now my default supermarket. Woburn is good.

                                        I often (not always) find MB fish in those stores is in better condition than Whole Wallet, and at much less cost.

                                        MB locations are not uniform - unlike most chains, which try to present a completely uniform sense to customers, MB locations are much more individual. I actually like that.

                                        Can't wait for the MB to open on US1 in Saugus in the coming years.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          where will it be in Saugus? That is the most convenient location for me. The one in Reading is good, buti have to find the right time to go- has always been crazy the few times I have gone there. My usuals are Wilson Farms, TJ and Johnnies.

                                          1. re: macca

                                            I believe it's going to be across from Bernie & Phyls, in what is currently a mound of rock that is being pulverized into gravel....

                                            1. re: Karl S

                                              thanks- wish it were in the same strip mall as TJ- one stop shopping- but that location is more convenient than Reading. My office just moved to Wakefield, so I will have to find the back roas from here to the REading store!

                                              1. re: macca

                                                It's not a back road - just take North Ave (which runs along the Haverhill Line RR tracks) under Rte 128, at which point it becomes Walkers Brook Rd in Reading. Go up a few lights, past the Jordan's megaplex on the right, and the S&S on the left - its the next left after S&S. You can also go to the rear to exit to Rte 28.

                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                  thanks- easy enough. I am on Lowell street near fout corners.

                                        2. The one in Chelmsford is pretty good. I usually don't buy much fish there. The Hannaford's is better for that. Meat and produce are decent and, because it's next to Lowell, there's a fair amount of Asian goods. I can always pick up my Sriracha sauce there in a pinch.

                                          1. I used to get dragged to the Market Basket in Westford MA as a kid. I feel like the floors were ALWAYS covered in sand and dirt.

                                            I remember never trusting their deli, even as a kid.

                                            1. As someone who worked at the Westgate Haverhill store for years while in HS & college, I can tell you there are definitely good stores & bad stores. All the MBs/DeMoulas' are especially reflective of the community in which they reside. I go there now & see many of the same albeit older, faces that I knew 20 years ago.

                                              That said, most people seem to feel that the fish, meat & deli is sub par at MB. My experience recently is that, at least at the Westgate store, the quality of the fish has been excellent. I got a beautiful piece of tuna a few weeks ago, unbeatable price of $4.99/lb! It was better than some I've gotten at 'fish' markets in the past. I've heard their haddock has recently been excellent & again, the prices unbeatable.

                                              Personally I love MB for the community feel, a selection of ethnic & uniquely New England foods you just don't find at Shaw's or S&S & store brands & prices that are great. I recently moved back to the Merrimack Valley from Boston & have seen my food bill fall sharply! I feel fortunate to have a family run, community centric market that's held out all these years from selliing out the the Big Guys.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: kparke30

                                                I agree. I save gobs of $$ at MB (so many items are $1.5-$2 less per unit), and the quality of their meat and fish selection generally excels any other competitor (I prefer the pork, lamb and veal from J Pace & Sons in Saugus), but. I can't believe I've finally found a market that almost always carries fresh kielbasa, for example. I can get many odd cuts at MB that are not virtually never available at WF, S&S or Shaw's (mind you, I'd love even more choice - when on earth will fresh ham become as easy to find in the Boston area as in other areas like greater NY?)

                                                The main thing is that they save money by stocking during shopping hours, leading to a bit of an obstacle course. But the checkouts are faster and more efficient than S&S and Shaw's.

                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                  They are the only markets where i can find Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder (picnic) for making pulled pork. Never see it at Roche Brothers, Shaws, etc...

                                                  1. re: hargau

                                                    Foodmaster usually has picnic shoulder, less frequently Boston butt.

                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                      Costco is a good source for these as well.

                                                  2. re: Karl S

                                                    I have ALWAYS wondered about the stocking obstacle course. How many times have I muttered 'these guys are always restocking' while trying to avoid getting run over by a pallet. It makes sense now that this saves money. duh. Thanks Karl -- I learned something new today!

                                                2. AND STARTING THIS SUNDAY...SOFT SHELL LOBSTERS $4.99 lb.!!!!

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: 4chowpups

                                                    Careful, those softshells usually have very mushy meat.

                                                    1. re: treb

                                                      mushy? I eat softshells every summer in maine and have never found them mushy. They tend to have more water in the shell then hardshells but if cooked properly i dont find the meat mushy. You get less meat per lobster but you also pay less per pound.

                                                      1. re: hargau

                                                        Right. I agree.

                                                        The Reading store had 4.99ers last week as an in-store special. Perfect for a lobster roll and now the shells are in the freezer waiting to go into a pasta sauce. I'm liking Market Basket more and more.

                                                        Thanks for the heads up for this week-end!

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          Ashland and Bellingham also had them last week AND this week for $4.99/lb. Personally, I'd reather pay $6.99/lb for hard shells--the price is more than justified by the higher meat/non-meat ratio, IMHO.

                                                      2. re: treb

                                                        i actually prefer shedders to hard shells. especially when i bag-up diving. parting out 15 lobsters at a time is a huge p.i.a. when they're hardshells, the shedders, not so much. and i don't think the quality of meat varies as much as some people think.

                                                      3. re: 4chowpups

                                                        Usually the hardshells are a $1/lb more, so even if they don't list a special you can get them for less (and believe it or not, I have seen the soft shells a $1/lb more once!!). Some of the larger Market Baskets separate the soft and hard shells into different tanks, to make it easier for the deli clerks (which vary). And supermarket lobsters are almost always chickens, but the better deli clerks will try to find larger ones for you.

                                                        ScubaSteve -- do you still see find the frozen nz rack of lambs (used to be two to a pack) in Merrimack GBs? I haven't seen them for a good 5 years in Burlington and since (I think it was) you confirmed seeing them a year ago I have also scoped out Woburn, Reading, Salibury (?), Lowell.... and never found them again. Very small, but perfect to put in the freezer. Their cornish hens are also a nice freezer thing and the duck if you have the space, although I more often buy Quail to eat fried.

                                                        1. re: itaunas

                                                          NO! and i wish they'd come back. i used to always have a few in my freezer, now, not so much.

                                                          1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                            That's a bummer. Somewhere like Costco carries them, but unfortunately pre-seasoned with some kind of breaded coating and cut in half. Restaurant Depot non-seasoned (if you can get a card) currently on sale for $6.79 (their usual price isn't much more). And maybe watch the flyers for McKinnon's in Salem, NH (or call them about the frozen) for a special.

                                                            1. re: itaunas

                                                              Costco always carries unseasoned racks of lamb, that are frenched and cryovaced. The freeze very well, I think they're aprox. $10. pp.

                                                      4. we have 4 MBs here in nashua...2 are literally 1/4 mile apart on the same road. of those two, one is fantastic, the other is dreadful. but they are both busy.

                                                        i buy all of my non-perishables there and a lot of produce. I occasionally buy meat....i never buy fish there....hannaford for fish.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: rizzo0904

                                                          I live in Nashua and go to the Hudson MB. It is actually more convenient to get to, and you don't have to deal with DW highway or Amherst St. Plus, there is a liquor store next door, and you have Stop and Shop across the street if you feel like wasting money (although they occasionally have some good sale items - visit both in one trip!)

                                                        2. Since having to tighten up my budget, I am shopping exclusively at MB for grocery. As stated a billion times, the fish has been great...and their produce excellent, too.

                                                          I had a really, really, bad seafood experience in Hannaford's, up north, last week.

                                                          I have a theory that unlike the bigger chains - S&S, Shaw's, Hannaford's - MB has very little marketing $ in their budget and they don't create superfluous bells and whistles to keep their customers. They send out their flyers and other than that, I believe they watch their product mix closely. They stock based on what we are buying and they do it on an individual unit basis - making each store distinct to its customers. I don't think they spend a lot of time trying to bring in new items to see if they will move - they stock what moves. Like their strategy of day time stocking...the simple approach to product mix probably keeps costs down, as well.

                                                          Some stores don't have fish counters because they don't sell much fish. Others have a great and diverse selection of ethnic foods....others, not so much. I also love the really inexpensive pork shoulders I can't find anywhere else.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: merrvally

                                                            I think the reason MB is 40 to 50 percent cheaper isn't so much the lack of a website, promotional gimmicks or high turnover and volume but rather that fact that they are a non-union shop. S&S/Shaws have to pay union scale and it ends up in the sticker price. That is just my personal observation/theory. We shop at both where we find specific value.

                                                          2. Has anyone had experience with the Salem MA store? We had a weird experience the first and only time we went, 3+ years ago, but I am wondering if it is worth giving it another try. Especially in the face of a layoff in the household... :(

                                                            1. I occasionally go to the Salem store. I think the produce there is fresher and more varied than any of the other supermarkets in the area, and the prices are the best. I live closer to the Whole Foods and Stop and Shop in Vinin Square, but Whole Foods? Wonderful store, but try having friends over or feeding a family on a budget! I am within walking distance of Crosby's in Marblehead, but their prices are outrageous.
                                                              Back to MB in Salem...there are less BMW's in the parking lot, and I like the diversity. One can learn a lot by looking in the carts of others and trying to figure out what the Russian family is eating, or what the Latin American family has for Sunday dinner.
                                                              Moreover, I have found the staff helpful there.
                                                              See you there!

                                                              1. Thank you to all of the hounds who replied to this post. Today I went to the Woburn MB, which I had not visited in a good number of years. Yes! It is definitely much better than before as regards to what they stock, and the prices are amazingly better than Shaws, S&S, Roche Brothers, and even Hannaford. Heck, even my favorite Greek yogurt (Fage) was at least 50 cents cheaper than at Trader Joe's or Russo's.

                                                                I also enjoyed the atmosphere. You can tell it is a local chain that is focused on local people.

                                                                It's just too bad that this MB (or even the one in Burlington, which is closer to me but not as nice IMHO) is so out of the way. Otherwise I would definitely be shopping there every week.

                                                                1. gotta say, feeding a family of 4 is about 50% cheaper at MB. but as others have mentioned, it is a "madhouse" most of the time. One of my fave finds: the rotisserie chicken! You can get a package of just breasts (2 or 3 in a package) hot and ready to eat for 2 bux, but what I do with it is make chicken salad. It ends up being twice as much meat as in a can (yuk) for the same price and sooooo much better!

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: momoftwo

                                                                    Now that's a good idea, momoftwo! Hadn't thought about stopping there to pick up rotisserie chicken for chicken salad - what a great price!

                                                                  2. I live in Billerica too and shop at the Treble Cove MB. It is a dump but it's SO CHEAP. We get our staples there and go to Stop N Shop in Bedford for deli meat, fish and produce and to a local butcher (Meat Again) for our meat .

                                                                    It works out; we get the savings of MB and the quality on the natural products. I also do single-meal shopping at Russo's and it never disappoints.

                                                                    1. Thanks to the CHers who recommended the MB on DWH in Nashua. I live in Billerica, the heart of MBland but wow, Nashua's selection is vastly better. Particularly impressive was the seafood counter, offering not just the usual suspects but fish heads (I asked if these are usually available, and was told yes) and whole butterfish. I saw the manager near the registers so I made a point of complimenting him on the store - think I made his day, especially when I told him how many MBs (5) are in my area.

                                                                      1. We go to Bellingham. Jheez - your description doesn't sound like the MB we know! Bellingham is clean and the produce very fresh. All the staff are helpful and friendly. WHat am I missing? Of course we don't go there at peak hours which could make a big difference.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: davefoxdad

                                                                          Did you know that this thread (and the other one you just posted on) has been dormant for a year?

                                                                          Anyway, if you want to try the best Market Basket has to offer, check out the Chelsea Store. It will really blow your socks off, especially if you enjoy shopping an extensive Latino selection (in addition to the usual general American products one might expect). I can't wait for the new Burlington store to open in about a week. It will be almost as big as the Chelsea store and lord knows what goodies will be on its shelves! I am especially expecting a good fish department, because they are competing with the H-Mart right next door.

                                                                          1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                            Where is this Burlington MB you're talking about? Isn't there one right next to HMart already?

                                                                            1. re: cutipie721

                                                                              Yes... the current incarnation is just up the hill, sort of next to the H-Mart. The new, more-than-three-times-the-size version is in the same shopping complex, just to the right of the current MB if you are facing the stores. It is where the Expo Design Center used to be. The new MB opens some time next week (the 12th or 15th are two dates I have seen), at which point the old one will go dark, I suppose.

                                                                              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                OoOOoOooooohhhhh you got me all excited!!!!!! :-) How did I miss that. Thanks so much for letting me know.

                                                                                Wow I have to thank Dave for bumping this thread lol

                                                                              2. re: cutipie721

                                                                                I think that market basket is taking over the space next to it (design expo?) and becoming a giant market basket

                                                                          2. I enjoy buying the damage food that is located by the restrooms at the Salem MB. After a trip to the one in Danvers, I could not find the damaged food section. Is it possible they do not dent any cans in Danvers or am I not looking hard enough?