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Is Bloom Really THAT Good?

  • m

I was on a mission to get some coffee at Beanetics in Annandale this afternoon gave up finding a parking space in that shopping center. The new Bloom market where the Annandale Magruder's used to be just opened and the lot was packed end to end with cars, I assume from people going into Bloom. Maybe they were giving away free food today. I dunno. I wouldn't think there would be that many people eager to shop for groceries at 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon.

I've never been in a Bloom before. What's the deal? It's the upscale Food Lion, isn't it?

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  1. It's in between Giant and the renovated Safeways when it comes to quality. Nothing special, but if you need toilet paper you could do worse.

    If it's a new store, they might've had a great sale for the first few weeks. It's a pretty common grocery store strategy.

    13 Replies
    1. re: reiflame

      There's also the forecast of the dreaded "wintry mix" tonight. So people need to stock up for the three weeks they might be stuck inside.

      1. re: reiflame

        I know this tread is over a year old, but the Bloom in Gaithersburg has really been beefing up it's quality brands lately; today I found Beechers cheese, Mayorga coffee and now they have a huge selection of premium chocolate bars. It's no Wegmans, but it'll definitely do until the Germantown Weg opens in a few years.

        1. re: reiflame

          The Frederick Wegman's opens next month. Don't tell anyone.

          1. re: flavrmeistr

            I'm not driving from Gaithersburg to Frederick to do my weekly shopping. I go up there often enough but it's a hike and the store is going to be insane for months (not the Germantown one won't).

            1. re: reiflame

              Is that worse than driving to Leesburg or Sterling? In case you cave, the opening date in Frederick is June 5th.

              1. re: flavrmeistr

                From Gaithersburg it's way shorter to drive to Frederick, but it's still too far to go for my daily/weekly shopping.

                I'm definitely glad to see some upscale/harder to find brands at Bloom in the meantime.

                1. re: reiflame

                  I live in Dupont Circle and do most of my weeky shopping at Wegmans - either Fairfax or Lanham. To me, worth the drive in the quality I can get for less money than any local grocery store. Was just there Sunday AM and to me, visiting any Wegmans is something you do early on a weekend morning - preferably Sunday - and it's over quickly and is relatively painless. But yes, I drive 25-45 min almost every weekend for groceries and it's worth it.

                  1. re: Jeserf

                    The fact that DC doesn't have even a halfway decent grocery store is the main reason we moved out from the District. Of course, that was 15 years ago -- is there still no good grocery store in NW?

                    1. re: Transplanted Texan

                      Whole Foods, and people like Teeter, but both are overpriced IMO and I really don't mind going to Wegmans - it's cheaper, the employees are friendly and helpful, and they often have ingredients that inspire me. The main grocery near Dupont, Safeway, is a dump to the 10th degree. But the Whole Foods works for those that can't get anywhere else. It's just insanely expensive.

                      1. re: Jeserf

                        It's interesting that people think Harris Teeter is more expensive than other grocery stores. I've always thought it was comparable, at least for the stuff I buy at regular grocery stores. (Mostly I go to MOM's and Trader Joe's)

                        The latest Checkbook Magazine, however, shows that Harris Teeter is actually less expensive than a lot of other local grocery stores.

                        1. re: Transplanted Texan

                          I think that HT is very close in price to other supermarket chains, especially when you compare their sale prices on meat, seafood and groceries. What I find expensive (and not worth it) is the produce section. Ditto at Safeway and Giant.

                        2. re: Jeserf

                          The newly remodeled social Safeway in Georgetown is pretty good. Better produce than the Harris Teeter's I've been to, in Pentagon Row. That was bad.

                          The Safeway in Mt. Vernon Square is also pretty nice from what I've seen. It's also brand spanking new.

                          I do most of my shopping at Whole Foods because it is the most convenient, but I try to go to Trader Joe's and Safeway when I can.

                          1. re: hamster

                            I find the produce at TJ's to be quite disappointing. I love MOM's for produce (Mom's Organic Market).

        2. Bloom, fancied up Food Lion, in an attempt to hide the negative connotations that chain has inflicted upon itself.

          1. I think to day was the opening day. Last week, they mailed out $5 off $25 purchase coupons. I think you got caught in the crossfire.

            Which may be bad news for me -- I'm supposed to have dinner at Silverado tonight (same parking lot).

            1 Reply
            1. re: weezycom

              I expect that the Bloom will be off the rose by dinner time. I'd love to learn how they make the short smoked salmon at Silverado.

            2. For what it's worth, my coworker usually buys our office birthday cakes at Bloom and they're absolutely sinful. Never a "eh, the cake's OK" moment - they're very, very good.

              1. That's a pretty small parking lot, I'm curious what it's going to be like on a typical Saturday afternoon. I like Beanetics; I hope the Bloom brings them customers instead of pushing them out.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Henry Spencer

                  I can say that at 11 am today it was full. I thought I might drop in...and was quick disabused of that notion.

                2. I shop at the Bloom in Rockville and have found a few things that keep me coming back. Their bakery items are quite good. Their meats are also good for a supermarket and they start marking them down as they get close to their "sell by" date, and I've stocked my freezer with some of those bargains. Their seafood is also better quality than any of the other chain supermarkets. One of the best things is that their employees are very friendly and customer-service oriented.

                  On the down side, their produce is really expensive and they tend to have a smaller selection in the general grocery items than a Giant or Safeway might have.

                  While it might not be worth making a special trip, it's a pretty good neighborhood supermarket if it is convenient.

                  1. I also shop at the Bloom in Rockville. They have kind of an identity crisis, in that they need to please the original Food Lion shoppers with realistic prices, but also try to lure in the higher end customers with organic foods, drinks, better produce. They did a nice job sprucing up the store and putting better quality food choices, but overall they're unrealistic in their prices for some of the items. Example is pasta sauce - they put in about 10 higher end choices, marked them up so high no one would buy them, then unload them for a couple bucks 2 years after their expiration dates. Their meat in packages on the shelves can start looking brown for some cuts, and does not give a good perception, especially given Food Lion's past issues with meat. Overall, they're doing a pretty good job, but as another poster said, it's not worth making a special trip for. They're located less than a mile of Whole Foods in Congressional and there's a Harris Teeter opening up within a mile, in Potomac Place off I-270, which is most likely going to attract the higher end customers they were trying to attract by updating the store and choices.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pizzah

                      I do like that it's usually not crowded and the isle's are wide and easy to navigate.

                      1. re: pizzah

                        The Bloom in Rockville is also the closest grocery to my home, and I find it totally standard (really huge, with sections for everything from dog toys to hardware to a medium-extensive Latin American selection, but basically standard). The employees are very pleasant, and if I were a loyalty-card person I guess the self-scanner thing you use to ring up your groceries as you shop could be interesting. But then I'm a snobby-pants shopper who cooks mostly vegan and buys mostly organic produce. Bloom has entire aisles that just baffle me, full of processed crap. As it is I only shop there for a few things: Polar cranberry-lime seltzer, Barkeeper's Friend scouring powder, soymilk in a pinch (although they don't have my favorite brands), and a few things from the Mexican section. Oh, and I also rely on Bloom for Redbox and the occasional lottery ticket. That's about it.

                      2. Went to the Bloom in Walkersville. I found them way over-priced and rather limited in their selection in comparison with other local markets. Also found their faux eco-friendly green-wash marketing theme somewhat annoying. The local Food Lion, on the other hand, has a somewhat limited selection but better pricing. Whole Foods and Harris Teeter have nothing to fear from these folks. Nor do any of the other chains, as far as I can see.

                        1. Near me, Bloom is the name that they give an old Food Lion store when they clean the place and finally wash the floors.

                          1. They gave the Food Lion by our house a sprucing up, added a few additional items and jacked all the prices up. It's all marketing, don't be fooled. If you can get to a Wegman's your much better off.

                            1. It really is food lion with fancy makeup. I guess they didn't have a choice after the dateline fiasco in the 90's. Bloom in annandale has taken a 180 degree turn for the worst in the last month or two, and I suspect it's because, one, their horrible selection and prices, and two, they just have absolutely no clue about the demographic of annandale. It's their first store within in the beltway, and corporate is just a mess. Harris Teeter has regained back all their customers and they have resorted to moving their problems around by switching around management like a deck of cards. To be honest, an international grocery store or specialty store would do so much better in that area, especially in a store that small with limited parking.

                              Not to mention I heard that they've been really treating their employees like crap, especially the new management.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: takadi

                                If you like brownies then you MUST try Bloom's brownie. The only downfall is that it's rather expensive but you have to treat yourself to at least once if you shop at Bloom..

                                1. re: stangman327

                                  I'll give them credit where credit is due and say that their bakery is excellent. They also have occasional specialty items that are nice. That being said, the store is just way too small, and if Bloom wants to make it just another grocery store, no amount of customer service will help it and people will go back to Giant or Safeway (which are like a walking distance away). Which is terribly ironic since their slogan is "A different kind of grocery store"

                                2. re: takadi

                                  Since the initial novelty has worn off, the Annandale store is convenient for me to run in and pick up things when I"m in the area. At least when I go, the parking lot is never crowded unlike HT, which probably confirms takadi's comment.

                                3. I shop at Bloom regularly because it is closest to my home and I tend to decide on dinner at the last minute and don't want to spend alot of time going to the store. Their store brand is Hannaford-I believe a New England chain- and I find their store brands to be pretty good. Also, they are the only close by chain that carries dry scallops in the seafood section instead of that stuff in the saline solution. They also always have live lobsters available, usually at a reasonable price. The bakery and deli is decent also. I have a Wegmans within 15 miles, but with traffic, it is at least an hour round trip. I just don't want to spend that much time after a long day of work.

                                  1. Our Bloom in Fulton is horrible. Went in there once or twice. Just a dressed up Food Lion. I will never go back again. My favorite local store is Harris Teeter. I stock up on things when they go on sale. They usually have plenty of items marked down 50% every week. I cannot wait until we get our Wegman's here in Columbia. As far as I'm concerned, this is the Nordstroms of grocery stores. You haven't lived until you've shopped at Wegman's.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: beach57

                                      I read the sale ads every week (that's what retired people do) and occasionally will go to Bloom when they have something I want at a good price. It's never crowded on weekday afternoons, at least not since I started this tread nearly 2 years ago.

                                      I'd go to Wegman's too, if the closest one wasn't nearly a 25 mile round trip. Trader Joe's, Harris Teeter, Safeway, and Giant are all within just a few miles from me. I don't buy a lot of fresh produce so that's not a big deal. What I miss is decent sized Russet baking potatoes. There seems to be a missing size, that size between big enough for two in bulk and not really big enough for one in 5 pound bags. Trader Joe's used to sell individual potatoes that were just the right size for 39 cents each, but no more. Target usually has them, but for about twice that.

                                      1. re: MikeR

                                        Our Trader Joe's in Elkridge (Columbia) still sells individual Russett potatoes for 39 cents each. That's where I buy ours. The other grocery stores sell individual potatoes for well over $1.00/lb and they are the size of a football! The only two times I shopped at our Bloom, all the loose potatoes were green.

                                        1. re: beach57

                                          Well, I'll be darned! I was in my local Trader Joe's (Bailey's Crossroads) yesterday and the 39 cent Russets were back. I bought a couple.

                                          They weren't there last week, and for months before that.