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Does anyone enjoy shopping at Gelsons market as much as I do?

For years I have enjoyed shopping at Gelsons Markets in Encino and Tarzana. Their stores in Calabasas, Northridge, Sherman Oaks, Century City and North Hollywood are nice too.

It seems that when you are a Gelsons customer you get spioled and nothing else will do.

For some items I shop at Trader Joes and Whole Foods. On rare ocassions I shop at Ralphs and Vons.

Gelsons has excellant meats, produce, service deli and wolf gang puck. Benes bakery is also very good.

Prices for regular groceries are competetivly priced to Ralphs and Vons. Gelsons service deli, produce and meats may be expensive but they are much better than other places.

Why do so many people hate Gelsons and make comments like Gelsons is just an overpriced Ralphs? I find it that people are ignorant.

Whole Foods has rude employees and the food isn't as fresh ans Gelsons. Trader joes is good for certain frozen items, fresh squezed juices and wines. Trader Joes isn't good for that much elese. Whole Foods is for that unique item that you can't find anywhere else.

I hadn't been in a Ralphs in a while and I was very very dissapionted. Last night while visititing a friend in Pasadena I went into a Ralphs on Lake Ave. He wanted me to pick up some items. At the Ralphs on Pasadena on Lake I left the store empty handed and depressed.

The Ralphs in Pasadena didn't carry anything except for cheap brands of wine that were way overpriced. I was going to get some grapes and they didn't look fresh or even taste sweet.

Today on my way to the beach I stopped at Ralphs in Calabasas. The Calabasas Ralphs was so poorly stocked and carried hardly any specialty items. The Calabasas Ralphs didn't have any fresh fruit, doesn't carry juice evolution juices and was stocked with basic products.

I ended up going out of my way to Gelsons Calabasas.

Even many of thier fresh fare stores are a joke.

Whole Foods I find to be just an okay store. I have had a love hate relationship with Whole Foods.

Ralphs prices have gotten very high. Even high than Gelsons for some things.

When I tell people I prefer Gelsons they think I'm a snob. People say things like you are overpaying for your produce at Gelsons. I tend to dissagree.

Everytime I go to Whole Foods I find rude employees and produce and meets that don't look or taste fresh. Why do people love Whole Foods so much? I'm talking about Whole Foods large stores in Thousand Oaks, glendale, Venice, 3rd/fairfax and Santa Monica.

Vons is a little better than Ralphs. Vons actually has better produce and more selection of unusual grocery items.

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  1. What do you think about Fresh & Easy markets?

    3 Replies
    1. re: HBfoodie

      You mean Fresh & Sleazy.

      Half the stuff they don't have and the other half is precooked crap.

      1. re: HBfoodie

        Their meat and fish are first raate and reasonable. I've had good chicken there. I like their scallops and their other fish, very fresh with expiration dates that are truthful. Cheese prices are also reasonable. They have good frozen pizzas and excellent fresh pasta such as tortellini or ravioli. Their kefir is good and their milk is fine. Spices are reasonable priced. Getting out of the store at the checkout always flows smoothly. So those who put this place down are missing out. Try their baby lamb chops or their scallops and then comment.

        1. re: EclecticEater

          Their wild-caught salmon is cheap(ish) and wonderful, and those big eight-packs of chicken thighs for under $4 are to me Instant Party - even if we don't have company I'll season them and load'em up in the hinged grill basket and have a quick supper plus lunch for a week.

          I really like their cheap wines, especially the ones in the $4-$8 range. However, those seem to be disappearing, and I can't help wondering whether they just sold out sooner than they'd expected, or are they pulling a bait-and-switch? Easy to be suspicious nowadays...

      2. I live just about equidistant between the Silverlake Gelsons, Ralphs and the Vons at Virgil and Sunset. I shop at all three, usually for different things. Gelsons is indeed the winner for fish, meat (depending on what sort of meat I'm looking for - just try and get a decent piece of fatty pork at Gelsons), fowl, cheese, olives - that sort of thing. But you pay a price for it. I've done price comparisons and can't imagine how you came to the conclusion that Gelson's prices are on par with Ralph's and Vons. Except for the occasional sale, Gelsons is often as much as 50% more expensive for the same thing. I would never buy any sort of canned or pre-packaged or household goods at Gelsons. It would be ruinously expensive. Both Vons and Ralphs often have as good, sometimes even better, selections of fresh produce as Gelsons, at much lower prices. I often also shop at A-Grocery Warehouse - a mostly Vietnamese market in Echo Park that is better and cheaper than any of the other three, but only for some specific things where the quality is as good if not better.

        2 Replies
        1. re: estone888

          estone888 -
          buy Planet laundry detergent at Ralphs or Whole Foods and you pay $2.00 more than you do at Gelsons, $4.00 more if it is on sale, and the sale occurs about every 6 weeks. While salmon is more expensive at Gelson's, you have many versions, wild caught, farm raised, etc., yet have you seen what salmon looks like at Ralphs - it is a joke. You would be better off buying canned salmon.
          Produce at Ralphs not dubbed Fresh Fare is a joke, aka Trader Joe's quality. But the prices at Fresh Fare are comparable to Gelson's, and of course they never benefit from the Tuesday sale flyers - only the regular Ralphs stores get those prices.
          Would not dare buy meat at Ralphs as much of it is select grade, not even Choice, and definitely not prime.
          I feel you get what you pay for, including the mostly friendly staff, or at least at my local one here in Sherman Oaks. And the deli takeout counter and salad bars - no close comparison at Ralphs.
          I don't mention canned goods because I don't buy them, period, unless it is tuna, in which case I go to WFM like I do for their fresh Empress Valley salsas, when they have them in stock.
          And to the poster above referring to the wine at TJs, please, those are largely wines that no one else would carry. Go to a good quality local wine shop and you can find wines of way better quality for similar prices.
          No reference to Vons because they are so far away to warrant packing a lunch to get there.

          1. re: carter

            Carter, you highlight one of the problems of intellegent shopping in SoCal. Products that are recognized brands and canned or otherwise packaged (even imported) will be of the same quality whether purchased at Gelson, Von's, WF, Bristol, Costco, Smart & Final or anywhere else (assuming reasonable shelf life and rotation). For these items price comparision is the key IMO. For fresh foods, meats, seafood, produce, service deli and the like, with rare exceptions, the high end markets are the only answer (excluding farmer's markets). Jim's Fallbrook Market is exceptional for meats and seafood (the only place close by I've found with REAL sand dabs) and Vicente Foods in Brentwood is a dynamite local market if you live in Brentwood (which, unfortunately, we don't) and they have real butchers who will cut Birkshire pork to order. I think it really boils down to service and knowledge (the Von's close to us don't even have butchers) and even at Gelson's I asked the fish guy where the wild Alaskan salmon came from and he replied "Alaska." Which river, I asked, and he confessed he had no idea. The seafood manager also was clueless. So to the point: You've hit the nail on the head that there is no one-stop solution to cost-effective, top quality shopping. We are doomed to multi-market shopping. I yearn for the days of Jurgensen's.

        2. Gelsons is a nice, clean store, no doubt. Friendly staff, too. I didn't notice that the prices were a whole lot higher than the major chains, but never did a lot of shopping there. Whole Foods is pretty much for wealthy masochists. Being neither, I only went once. Fresh and Easy? None close, and a long drive makes it less Easy. Trader Joe's? Not a full range of items, infamous parking lots .

          There are plenty of places that have good, less-pricey produce. Fresh because of high turnover rate, too. Signage may be in Spanish, Korean, or "other", but this is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

          Hey, does Gelsons have a bin of pick-your-own squid?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Akitist

            AKitist- The good news is that Gelson's does NOT have a pick-your-own selection of squid!!!

          2. I love my Gelsons in the Palisades, the best meat market & fish counter in the area, as long as you don't mind paying for it - but you do get what you pay for.

            Tonight will be serving some prime top sirloin roasts. The whole weekend was a seafood feast of lobster & clams. Super fresh and really good.

            1. A few years ago, my girl friend did a serious price comparison between Gelson's, Von's, Ralphs and Whole Foods on the things we bought. There were some items only available at one but to the extent we could compare, the first three were about the same while Whole Foods was around 60% higher. Depending on what's on your shopping list, it might not be the same.

              Gelson's, because it's so clean and friendly, became our choice.

              I prefer the prepared rotisserie chickens at Ralphs but on everything else, the prepared hot foods are better at Gelson's than any of the others. The prepared foods at Whole Foods might beat them if I could ever find any that hadn't been cooked hours before and gotten old and wilted in the steam table.

              We found the produce at Gelson's to be superior. Obviously, the quality of most packaged goods are the same but we like the selection and the prices.

              1. I go to Gelson's either for specific items I can't get elsewhere or as a sort of grocery tourist, maybe when I'm feeling flush and ready to spend a bit extra. There are some canned/packaged goods not easily found anywhere else, and they do reliably have inexpensive turkey thighs. I do not agree that their produce is particularly superior to Ralphs, certainly not to Whole Foods. If I want to pay a bit more for really good meat I prefer How's or Bristol Farms; the meat-counter people there are competent and articulate butchers, whereas at our Gelson's (Pasadena) they seem often to know neither meat nor English.

                I most emphatically do not agree that Vons' produce is in any way superior to Ralphs', but quite the opposite. To me, the function of a mainstream supermarket is as a backup to Trader Joe's, and as much as I prefer Vons' customer service and personnel training - pay attention to the customer, greet and thank him, do not treat him as an interloper - to Ralphs', the plain fact is that I can always find everything on my list at Ralphs a lot more reliably than at Vons, whether it's my brand of dog food or a particular frozen vegetable.

                1. Well, they are very helpful there, and will drop what they are doing when you ask a question and show you where to go. It's a very pleasant experience, and it reminds me of a more-expensive Wegmans (for those of you from the East Coast). When they carry something, they generally carry all the varieties of it (cf. mochi ice cream).

                  I like Gelson's, right up until I get to the cashier's line and have to actually pay for all this help and huge variety and cleanliness and upscale-ishness. Then I don't like it so much. I always seem to end up paying much, much more for food there than at, say, Albertson's. Now part of that is because I only go to Gelson's when I am at the in-laws' in Calabasas, which is a much more upscale and expensive city than my hometown of Anaheim... but part of it isn't, and I find that the prices are shockingly high for 'normal' items like, say, a tin of beans.

                  I used to love Trader Joe's but I am less and less enamoured of them. I still love their fruit preserves, and I buy their boxed chicken and beef broth and their house-brand unsweetened soy milk, but as I get older I am less interested in 'interesting' pre-made convenience foods, which is really what they market. I never like the wine I get from there, so I don't buy it anymore. Those few convenience items I do buy inevitably are removed from sale -- the frozen couscous salad, the peanut vinaigrette and the Moroccan "tangine" [sic] sauce in a jar.

                  Whole Foods is absolutely just overwhelming, unnecessarily expensive, and in some cases not worth the price -- they do not treat their cheese well, their fish is a joke and I can buy the hippie-dippie natural foods half the price at Henry's (which I realise is a division of WFM, but is much, much cheaper).

                  I don't do very much shopping at Albertson's, though -- most of my grocery shopping happens on Saturday, when I go to the farmers' market at UCI, then to Wholesome Choice.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Totally agree with your take on Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

                    I do like the Albertson's next to my Costco in Culver city, but don't regularly shop there.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      UG, we are forever going to disagree about TJ's wine, so we won't even start, but they're the core of my shopping because of the price and quality of their bread, dairy and frozen fish, plus a lot of packaged and canned goods. As Albertson's is long gone from our immediate area I can't comment on their prices, but Ralphs' and Von's tabs for these things are a good bit higher, and in many cases they can't give me what I want at all. Gelson's is as you say a good bit worse - maybe by ten to fifty cents more per item, but it adds up in a hurry.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        WO, I don't drink wine so often, but I agree, we can disagree like gentlemen. I do like the dairy at TJ's but it's not so much cheaper than Wholesome Choice that it justifies a separate stop, and I've found lately some issues with really close expiry dates, especially on things that are less common, like buttermilk (without which my kitchen would grind to a halt).

                        I don't buy frozen fish -- ever -- so I can't speak to that, and again, the bread is fine but I have Wholesome Choice where they bake it for me to order (free hint: ask when they're baking the non-sangak breads and they'll tell you and often offer to hold one hot for you if you come back at the appointed time).

                        I do, at TJ's, buy olive oil and tomatoes and nuts and dried fruit. I don't buy their cheese (not good enough), their meat (so expensive for cuts that are not that great -- this is where ethnic markets shine), their pasta (so gummy!) or their prepared foods (either expiry dates too close or just nutritionally not what I'm looking for, though still leagues ahead of similar convenience foods at, say, Vons).

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          I think TJs has really good prices on cheeses, maybe not the greatest selection though.

                          1. re: Mateo R

                            My problem is that they are all mummified in plastic and left for godknowshowlong in the case.

                          2. re: Das Ubergeek

                            Expiry dates at TJ's are close because they buy a few days' worth at a time, and get deliveries every day. That's why they're constantly stocking shelves, and why if you can't find something someone will usually volunteer to see if any has come in. There was a time a couple of years ago when our TJ stores had an epidemic of moldy cheese, moldy green beans (in the microwave-ready pouches!) and the like, but it's been a long time since I've seen any such.

                            I'll get the rack of lamb and the Kosher chickens because they're cheaper and better than anywhere else, but never any other meat unless I'm feeling extravagant. Bananas and the yellow/green mixed beans are almost it for the produce, except for packaged salads (again, an extravagance) which are 2/3 the price of those in Ralphs and much nicer. The flourless sprouted wheat bread, the "British" muffins and the foccaccia buns are good and cheap, and while the baguette is little better than Ralphs' it's half the price. I would always buy fresh fish if I could afford it, but if this is the only way I can eat wild salmon and cod and mahi mahi just about every night I'll stick with frozen.

                            And who worries about the expiry date on buttermilk, and why? They put those on because the law requires it, but I swear that stuff is damned near immortal. My experience is that eventually it clots up in an unbecoming fashion, and that's when I pitch it, even though it still smells OK.

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              "And who worries about the expiry date on buttermilk, and why? They put those on because the law requires it, but I swear that stuff is damned near immortal."

                              Immortal. Is that a synonym of inedible? ;-D>

                              1. re: Servorg

                                Unlike many people, I enjoy the taste of good buttermilk, but unfortunately not often enough to consume a quart of it within a week or two. Back in Nashville it was widely available in pint and half-pint cartons; Alta Dena, which has pretty good buttermilk, supposedly does have pints, but I've not found any. Trader Joe's buttermilk, which I just bought because I need some for a recipe, is not very good at all. Being just 1% BF doesn't help it any...

                        2. re: Das Ubergeek

                          If I'm not mistaken, WFM sold Henry's to Smart & Final in 2007.

                          1. re: Peripatetic

                            peripatetic - you are correct in that Henry's is owned by Smart & Final.
                            Will Owen- too bad your experience at Gelson's is the one in Pasadena, which the company wanted to close a long time ago, and they probably should have. It is not one of their stellar units.
                            Your comment: " To me, the function of a mainstream supermarket is as a backup to Trader Joe's" - almost find nothing at TJ any more, definitely not the produce nor the flowers, not the meat or the fish, and most of the condiment items that I used to like have been discontinued. They just keep disappointing me, one item at a time. They used to have an India Relish that was sensational on seafood, gonzo. Now all the sorbets are TJ house-branded, and don't taste anything like the Double Rainbow versions of just a few months ago. But since you do buy "bread, dairy, and frozen fish", 3 items I would not even think to buy, as I don't eat those items.
                            Each store has its own customer allure, and we, as but two examples, just shop very differently, and of course that is why southern california has the grocery options that it does.
                            And we have not even started talking about the ethnic markets, where I find myself more frequently than ever before.

                            1. re: carter

                              I agree, carter -- sort of the catalyst for my stopping with TJ's was when they replaced the King Arthur Flour they sold with clearly-inferior house brand.

                          2. re: Das Ubergeek

                            I shop once a week, on Saturday morning. It goes like this: (1) Calabasas farmers market for produce, except for bananas. (2) Trader Joe at the Fallbrook mall location for dairy, eggs, bread, the few canned goods I need, whole-body chicken, the occasional sausage, the boxed beef and chicken broths, frozen fish, beer, and the occasional this 'n' that. (3) Vons for staples as needed (flour, sugar, etc.), Coke Zero, and the very occasional this 'n' that. Many Saturdays there is nothing I need at Vons, so I do not stop there. (4) Costco, perhaps once a month, for paper goods, trash bags and the like, Foster Farms boneless/skinless chicken breasts all packaged up 2 x 2, perhaps some other meat (they have GREAT meat, but of course the packages are very large -- whether I buy, and how much, depends on how crowded the freezer is), and sometimes things like large quantities of blueberries, dried apple slices, granola bars, whatever. When I need wine I go to BevMo in Woodland Hills -- ordering in advance on the website, paying by credit card online, and just picking stuff up when I get there, otherwise the place is too overwhelming and I just walk up and down the aisles slack-jawed.

                            If I need something during the week, I either stop on my way home from work at the Vons at PCH and Sunset or call Ms. Dr. Oz, who stops at the Calabasas Gelsons. Even if there were a convenient Whole Foods, I would not go there on a bet -- not only is it horrendously expensive, I don't want to risk getting run over by frantic Top Chef contestants bolting up and down the aisles.

                            1. re: ozhead

                              The likelihood of a top chef contestant bolting up and down the aisles in Calabasas is Zero!
                              Just wait until the WFM opens in Tarzana - and maybe the contestants will be there for you!!!

                              1. re: ozhead

                                There's a WFM on Ventura and (?) Canoga. It's small-ish and cramped and was clearly the model for the "One Earth" market on the ABC show "The Goode Family".

                                I really like the Calabasas CFM, though it's oddly set up and has weird traffic patterns. It's more expensive than Irvine but not as ludicrous as Hollywood or SM. I went yesterday to the TJ's at Fallbrook Mall and it was OK but again, just bizarrely set up with all these islands in the middle of the front, like there's no "there" there. That TJ's, though, wins for kindest employees -- I have seen more little acts of kindness toward some of the, hm, agèd patrons than in any other TJ's.

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  I think the Calabasas CFM is "oddly set up and has weird traffic patterns" because of the shape of the site -- like 3 sides of a square, with two of the sides very narrow but the third wide enough to accommodate an extra "island" down the middle. Nothing much to be done, though; the site is what it is, and apparently there is no better site in the area. (They experimented VERY briefly with moving the market farther up Calabasas Rd., to the large open lot just past the Commons, but apparently couldn't make it work there because of insurance problems.) It also suffers from parking problems: used to be you could park free in the Sagebrush Cantina's lot across the street, but that has not been the case for a year or more and the other lot, and street, parking in the immediate area is insufficient without the Sagebrush space. I have not found the prices to be grotesquely high, if you shop around before whipping out the greenbacks.

                                  The TJs at the Fallbrook Mall radically revamped the layout about 2 months ago, and I agree those produce islands in the front are pretty bizarre (though that doesn't make much difference to me, since about the only produce I buy there is mushrooms and bananas -- everything else I need is at the farmers market). DU is spot-on about the staff there: a very good group of people, extremely accommodating to all of the patrons (not just the, hm, aged ones such as graybeard Oz).

                            2. In reply to the OP I have to say that with the exception on there being an olive bar in Gelson's it is pretty much just a Ralph's with Whole Foods prices. My one experience at their deli was terrible. Poorly sliced, low quality prosciutto. And then the sticker shock at the counter put the nail in the coffin. Have not returned since. Like estone I tend to find the only way to get what I need is to move in a rotation of about two stores per week of the following:

                              A-Grocery is my staple for most produce and a lot of meats. Maybe the quality isn't absolutely superb but at $1.99 for pork tenderloin I'm willing to ingest scary hormones and the like. Also, their seafood can be stellar and incredibly cheap as long as you know how to select what's fresh. It's usually easy to find out because you generally need to pick up your fish and pass it over the counter to the fish guy for cleaning. Plenty of opportunity to check eye clarity and give it a sniff. Their produce is the best in the area by a long shot and usually half the price or less of other stores. TJ's covers snack items, canned goods and some dairy. Not sure why everyone sings the praises of their bread. While we surely don't live in a bread town TJ's lifeless baguettes and doughy ciabatta don't rate even on a relative scale. The Little Tokyo Market downtown is great for seafood, cheap sushi and really cheap cases of beer. While the produce can be cheap there it is hit or miss. I'll hit Von's or Ralph's on the rare occasion I crave nutter butters or other packaged things I can't find elsewhere. And the occasional trip to SuperKing for their pre-cooked chickens and pretty much anything middle-eastern.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: mrgreenbeenz

                                Trader Joe cracked-wheat sourdough bread is a fine product, as are their "hand-made" flour tortillas and the brioche loaf.

                                1. re: ozhead

                                  Agree, love the brioche and handmade tortillas.

                                2. re: mrgreenbeenz

                                  I had a sample of TJ's slider buns yesterday and they were outstanding. But outstanding things never seem to last at TJ's (the handmade tortillas and fruit spreads are exceptions).

                                3. gelsons offers some pre-prepared salads in their deli case that hit the right note for me that other places don't make.

                                  also, they carry an imported, organic version of nuttella which, to my palate has a more intense flavor. it's called Nocciolata. Nocciolate doesn't contain any partially hydrogenated fats.
                                  this stuff is so delicious that i've been known to sometimes eat it with a spoon:

                                  1. I really don't have a need to step foot in Gelson's, but it is a nice store. I do food shopping fairly regularly from a variety of sources that lessens my need for a one-stop shop. I tend to shop at farmer's market for produce. If I can't make it to an FM, Henry's fits the bill nicely. Sometimes I will buy Whole Foods 360 brand for generic items. I buy wine from a variety of shops locally (LA Wine Co., K&L, The Wine Country) as well as on trips and keep plenty of bottles on hand. I'll shop at local ethnic grocery stores in the area (like Payless Produce Market, El Camguey, Mitsuwa, La Espanola) as well. If I want "gourmet" and good cheese, sometimes I'll pop in a Bristol Farms or Surfas and get what I need.

                                    I think that people tend to like Whole Foods because it's "organic" vs Gelson's "upscale" vibe. I prefer Henry's/Sprout's because it is less expensive than both.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: annapurna7

                                      Interesting "local" wine shops with names from Marina Del Rey, Hollywood and Signal Hill - your version of local is wider than mine, yet from sherman oaks, I find myself mostly at Silver Lake Wine and Topline(owned by father and brother of owner of LA Wine Co, btw), neither too far away, nor from each other.
                                      As to the produce at Henry's, it certainly cannot hold any candle to that at Gelson's, based on my experience with the new Henry's in Woodland Hills on Ventura, just east of Topanga Canyon. In fact, I found some of it to be lower than a regular Ralphs produce section - very disappointing, even though the prices were cheaper than the others.
                                      And, yes, the WFM 360 brand does some generic items quite well, and much better than their counterparts at Rif-Ralphs and Vons, as but two examples. No Albertson's anywhere close for comparison.

                                    2. I work for a large produce distributor, and have found Gelson's to have some mighty nice produce. Yes, much more expensive, but I heard that their loyal customers love that the buyers there TASTE every piece of produce before displaying it. Everything is in great shape. Can't say that everyone vouches for their products like that. I also heard that they dump all their produce almost daily, which is unheard of. Lots of waste, but very fresh produce.

                                      1. Gelsons is a funny store. It is very over priced (ala Whole Foods) and some of their meat/fish/produce aren't worth what they're charging. But, they have a few thngs going for them, which is why I (sometimes) shop there. Their hot foods are pretty okay-I do love their chicken strips and stuffing. They also have cornichons by the half pint-I love that. They carry an array of Boursin, and their bread is the BEST!!!!! They have a great olive bar, and (because Ralphs stopped) have my favorite pita chips. BUT......They are still too expensive. Maybe because it's a bit more gourmet than other markets, and I find myself buying more expensive meats, cheeses, etc, but I swear, I can't leave the place without droping a ton of dough.

                                        1. Depending on what I am buying, I split my time between Gelson's and Ralph's. I prefer to not shop at Whole Foods at all. I have to give the edge to Gelson's for meat and produce, but they are not always perfect.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Bite Me

                                            "I have to give the edge to Gelson's for meat and produce, but they are not always perfect."

                                            You aren't kidding...yesterday I purchased 4 halibut fillets and didn't watch to see which ones he took. When I got home I ended up with 3 halibut and 1 swordfish. Ugh.

                                          2. Gelsons is doing better these days with their prices, but I still make the rounds to a few markets because Gelsons charges ridiculous prices for some produce (like red, yellow or orange peppers) even when they are in season. When Gelson's is charging over $5 per pound for an orange pepper, I can get them for less than $1 per pound at Jons. Also, the produce buyers don't seem to taste as part of their buying process. The produce always looks beautiful but is often bland and without flavor.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: abseygale

                                              My other big beef with Gelson's produce is their use of the word "local".

                                              At the Calabasas Gelson's recently I saw a sign that said "local plums". I asked where they were from and the person didn't know, so they went and found out (which was nice -- I do give them props for good service) and told me they were from Chico.

                                              I'm sorry, but Chico is not "local" to Calabasas. It's nearly 500 miles away. Phoenix, St. George Utah and Guerrero Negro, B.C.S., Mexico are closer.

                                            2. I shop at Gelsons for 32 years. I shop at TJ, WF and Ralphs some. Gelsons still has the service and when I walk in the Tarzana store they know be my name and take good care of me.

                                              1. I like the salad bar at Gelsons, as well as the prepared foods in the deli and produce sections. I also like the friendliness of the staff. They seem to be a little more uniform from store to store on their quality control vis-a-vis staff attitude and general cleanliness. The meat section at the Gelson's near me is well kept, but I've never asked them to custom cut meat for me. I do that at the butcher nearby.

                                                Ralphs can be okay, but it can also be awful. At the store near me, the staff actively dislike the customers. I've walked out of there twice without my stuff because I just couldn't take the attitude. And they're not too concerned about cleanliness.

                                                On the other hand, the Vons in my area is a class act. It's beautifully maintained, the staff bend over backwards to help you, even asking if you need help if you're just walking up the aisle, and escorting you to the section to show you whatever it is you're looking for.

                                                Jon's is fun for all the ethnic foods. Meat is cheap, produce is cheap, and they have interesting sauces with foreign language labels that are fun to try.

                                                1. A lot of this discussion is a matter of economics. For years I wouldn't set foot in Gelson's....now that I make more money it seems almost worth it. If you value service, selection and cleanliness, then part of the perceived premium at Gelson;s is worth it - not that it's the only clean and courteous store, but it does have more of more things than other chains. The produce is expensive, and the Century CIty Gelson's will let you taste any of their produce...and as a result I haven't bought any bad produce since I made tasting it first a habit. WFM has some good produce men, but most are slow to offer a sample. Unless I want something cut a specific way, I've been turning to Costco for meats (except chicken). The difference in price is far greater than the difference in quality. The $9.99/lb NZ rack of lamb at Costco still blows me away. No need to pay over $20/lb for that!!! I do avoid "typical" groceries at Gelson's, but often there isn't that much difference from Ralph's, at least on the Westside. Since every store seems to think its OK to charge $16- 25 for any good imported cheese, that's the item that has become a special occasion purchase for me. Even if its delicious spanish sheep cheese, $24/lb is a tough one for me. Doesn't seem there has been much mention of Bristol Farms here, which has been a life saver on occasion, but I think REALLY wins the prize for overpriced and lack of value.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: jay 1

                                                    Jay, agree regarding those lamb chops at Costco - won't consider buying them anywhere else.
                                                    As to Bristol Farms, there are relatively few of them, even compared to the 18 Gelson's stores. None in the Valley as an example, while two serving Weho, albeit one quite small. One is in Rancho Palos Verdes and another in So. Pasadena, two markets that are good, yet not large, especially compared with the geographical readership on this board. But their produce is good, and really no differently priced than Gelson's, by and large. And they do have a much better wine selection, and more fairly priced. Gelson's really rips you on alcohol, unless they offer something on sale, and then it is still higher than it should be.

                                                    1. re: carter

                                                      Bristol Farms also has a location just S of Westwood Village on Westwood Blvd. @ Ohio and there is one in El Segundo/Manhattan Beach on Rosecrans in the shopping center a bit east of Sepulveda (with the Houston's).

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        There is also a Bristol Farms on Lincoln Blvd, 1 Block north of Manchester Ave. in Westchester.

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          Yes, it too was a conversion of the former Westward Ho, is small, yet the El Segundo and Westchester stores are standard sized, as is the one in Palm Desert. But my point was that its customer base is smallish, even relative to Gelson's, which is not all that large, but at least well-dispersed geographically.