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Fairway (Stamford CT) Four Months Later - Thoughts?

It's been four months since opening. Thought we could update the feelings:

I am a weekly Sunday shopper.

Goods:

- lots of organic choices
- fillets and strips have been good
- sausages
- eastern smoked salmon
- whitefish salad
- great parmesan
- cream cheese
- bagels and bialys
- ct milk
- chocolate selection
- florida navels
- other produce
- people will do anything within their power to correct

bads:

- corporate has set up the cashiers to fail since they do not use the SKU on the fruits but have to recognize the produce and then input Fairway's own "sku." Total corporate failure. and they also guess at times, no i do not want to pay twice as much because you input imported olives instead of pickles.
- fish can be hit or miss. last week was great yesterday was for hunger. likewise the fish cutters are extrmely "weight" challenged. Not them personally but their ability to cut to the size requested. I asked for a pound of salmon and they underguessed on first piece, added piece 2, and missed again and then added a sliver. 3 pieces was almost "are you kidding?" And then they copped a 'tude. "hey you asked for a pound."
- ads sometimes do not state "family pack" so you need to ask the butcher to adjust the price of the non-family packs to the advertised price
- bakery has not produced anything i like so far
- still confusing layout. They now attach a map to the carriage to help, good adjustment to customer feedback

What are your pluses and requests for change.

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  1. (-) My biggest surprise at Fairway was their very small selection of Latin American products in the frozen food section. I couldn't even find frozen yuca which is a staple in many south of the border countries.
    (-) We purchased a few of the bakery items but found them to be inadequate even though they looked so good. I will have to keep buying at the SONO Bakery where we have never been disappointed.
    (+) We do like their Costa Rican coffee (dark beans) for its flavor and most important for us, its low acidity.
    (+) Also like their cheese section.
    I would like to see them post accurate food directory charts at the ends of all the aisles.

    1. Too big, too chaotic, too confusing for my tastes. I respect that they have a ton of goods at respectable prices and that should be incentive for many, just not me.

      I like shopping. I like visiting a good fish monger, a good wine store. I like to go to places where, over time, I can build a personal relationship. Warehouse shopping appeals to many but not to me. Shopping should not be a scrum.

      Deb and I are reconciled to shopping at many places over the course of a week to fill our needs. For us, that's the price of poker and we'll just have to deal with it. We are throwbacks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: steve h.

        Agreed. I went there once, was impressed with some of the items and selection, but that was in November and I have not ventured back. If I was closer, I would probably pop in now and again for some items.
        In general I don't like the larger stores, I get overwhelmed and buy things I don't really need because they "look good". Invariably they don't taste good or I end up throwing them out because I really didn't need them in the first place!

        1. re: sibeats

          I went three times in Fall last year and liked some of the variety with dried / unusual canned goods etc. But did not like the fresh produce (apart from the very first time I went when it was good), meat, fish, cheese or baked goods. Quality just isn't there for me. I have never been back.

      2. I've been going there about once a month, just to vary the weekly shopping experience or because I want an item I can't find at my usual store, but the thrill is definitely gone. The layout makes me (and everyone else I know) nuts and wastes a lot of time--e.g., I know what brand of canned tomatoes I like, but I honestly don't know if they are considered organic or not, so I have to check both sections. The clerks go overboard trying to be helpful, but they don't know the stock that well and have more than once led me on a wild goose chase through the store as they look for an item in multiple locations--just tell me you don't know, and I'll move on! There is a very limited selection of non-food items--cleaning products and the like--and they often don't carry my favorites. I think the bagels are mediocre and the I buy the bialys not because they're so great but because they are hard to find anywhere else. I buy my fish at Stamford Fish and Seafood where the quality is great and the owners are accommodating (and can eyeball the proper cuts for the weight I want), so haven't had any need or desire to try Fairway's fish.

        On the plus side, I appreciate that there are never long lines to check out and I can find oddball items.

        Has anyone tried the wine/liquor store? It looks lovely, but I'm always there on a Sunday so can only press my nose against the glass. (And apparently the CT legislature won't be voting on Sunday openings this session--the liquor store owners trade association must donate some big bucks, because they influence-wise are the NRA of CT .)

        2 Replies
        1. re: MommaJ

          I was in their wine shop to check the pricing. Their wine prices are high when you compare them to Manhattan prices where I buy all my wine.
          No reason for the liquor store to be open on Sunday or most other stores for that matter. Just increases their overhead. I'm not going to buy an extra case of wine on Sunday just because they are open or shoes from a shoe store just because they are open. It is hard to justify why almost any store is open (7) days/week.

          1. re: makko

            makko, Fairway's wine shop (like all CT alcohol purveyors) is closed Sundays. Personally I am hopeful to see that law change, but that's just me.

            Good: The prepared foods are very convenient and tasty. Olive oil! The beef. Chocolate. The store is clean and the company is providing much-needed jobs in Stamford.

            Meh: Bakery.

        2. I have far more positive feelings. The variety and volume at FW is unmatched by any other store in the County and probably the State. And though I don't take advantage of it everytime I shop, it's nice knowing that I can always find hard to find there. Their prices are very competitive (not as good as Manhattan, tho).

          There's now a place in lower CT for great smoked fish sliced lranslucent thin in front of your eyes (along with a very generous tasting sample as you wait for the surgeon to complete his work) so I no longer have to travel to New Rochelle Sunday mornings. Aged prime in the meatcase. They'll steam your lobsters and add a gratis container of garlic butter. I haven't been dissappointed by their bagels and feel their lightness carries nova and cream cheese beautifully. The french pastries look good, but haven't tried. Their breads are only typical supermarket baking.

          Wonderful selection of oils and like their sampling (tho people double dip despite the signs.) Good selection of pickle from half dones to full garlic, domestic and imported roast peppers and pastes, and really fresh capers. Best supermarket array of cheeses, domestic and imported. Also have not been dissappointed by their produce, and can always find ripe avacado there, unlike most other markets..

          I also am reluctant to buy my seafood there, preferring local like New Wave (always fresh and best prices) or Stamford Seafood(convenient and nice family runs it) and the umatched quality of Fjord. It does offer a store for fresh seafood on Sundays, when New Wave and Stamford SF are closed.

          Yep, checkout is not up to the professional standards of the rest of the store.

          I'm truly appreciative Sterling partners and the Glickbergs chose Stamford as their homestate outpost, have hired hundreds of locals, and are an anchor for the new retail and residential development that's transforming the city's south side. They have also been great civic citizens so far.

          FW has also raised the bar for other stores.

          Plus they clear the carts from the parking lot with the speed of sorcery.

          1 Reply
          1. re: louuuuu

            Like their salmon bar, fresh cream cheese, store made tortilla chips, kosher chicken breast, and french bread. other than that, the store is too nutty.

          2. We are there at least once a week, it has become our primary grocery store. I stepped foot inside a Stop & Shop yesterday for the first time in months and felt claustrophobic.

            I agree with the others who've said it's a great addition to Stamford, and particularly to the much maligned South End neighborhood.

            + Cheese counter is amazing, and the mongers are generous with samples
            + Great selection of olive oils
            + CT milk (reduced the need for trips to Stew's too)
            + The tossed-to-order salad bar is a hidden gem back in the corner of the prepared foods area

            - Deli staff is borderline incompetent and definitely belligerent with customers & each other.
            - At first I liked the "traditional" and "specialty" breakdowns, but agree with others that the way products are split is often arbitrary and difficult to predict.
            - Bakery has been a disappointment, except for the (occasional) 99 cent baguette
            - The prices on many everyday items (cocktail sauce, for example) are astronomical.

            I often think it takes the patience of Job to shop at Fairway, but I still think it's worth it.

            1. It's become a regular part of our food shopping rotation. A few points:

              - I don't believe we'll really be able to judge the quality of the produce until summer. A lot of what is currently on the shelves now comes from the Southern hemisphere, greenhouse/hydro or storage.
              - I find it is very convenient. I live in Stamford, and there are a lot of products you just can't find together in any other spot. I make one trip to Fairway instead of a half-dozen stops. I actually feel bad about this because I have developed relationships with a lot of the smaller merchants in town and I'm not buying from them as often.
              - The selection in the wine store is better and deeper than anything else in town, and prices are in line with others in the area.
              - I pray that someone from Fairway is reading this, and that you remove all that foul smelling flavored coffee from your otherwise excellent selection. It's the dominant smell in about a quarter of the store. The guys working in that section totally agree with me. Trust me on this.
              - Speaking of coffee, the rotating (weekly?) specials can generally get you a pound of quality beans for about $5.99.
              - I think the layout of the aisles was designed by the same guys who designed the lines at the DMV.
              - The cafeteria selection is distinct from anything else in town (or in FF County for that matter). My kids have asked to go there for dinner a few times when we were considering where to eat out. It's a pretty good value as well.
              - The bakery sells some great breads. Maybe not their own stuff, but the Balthazar etc. is unrivaled by anything else in town.

              1. salmon bar- staff there is excellent as well (eastern is my fave too!)
                olive oil
                olives and capers by the lb
                sausage in butcher case
                bagels
                baugettes
                brussel sprouts by the lb
                good selection of fesh herbs
                spices
                coffee selection is great
                cheeses are great too but also over priced. i find i can pick up some of those offerings at trader joes
                fresh mooz
                fresh pastas

                cons-
                agree on the produce @ checkout- but i dont know another store that uses bar codes

                hard to find what you want- i feel like the organization of products is a tad confusing.
                - ie- instead of organic pretzels in one aisle and regular arnold pretzels in another- how about just a pretzel aisle with all varities- know what i mean?

                i think the meat/poultry is over priced for the most part, with the exception of the occasional bonelss chicken and whole filets

                the prepared butcher items that look appetizing in the glass ..ie - stuffed pork chops- the stuffing was super bland no flavor AT ALL - and the stuffed veal was 100% fat- no meat . we blew $18 on that and will never do it again

                the fish is a tad over priced. ive been sticking with new wave for fish.

                too much staff. never thought i would say that but i feel like every friggin time i need to grab produce or anything- there is always someone re-stocking and i have to ask them nicely to please move. its a weird complaint but it just bugs me. also i see a lot of the staff stanfing around in the aisles bs'in with each other. i have to interrupts them to ask a question.
                (this is not all staff but certainly some)

                1. Overall I think Fairway is one of the best markets in the area and I love the wide selection and quality they offer. I like alot of the products and love a few and it's nice to only have to go to one store to get everything I need (as opposed to getting some things at Whole Foods, some at TJ's, Stew's, Stop and Shop, etc). I do still prefer to get some items at Costco (Organic Chicken) or elsewhere, but I can manage to get everything we need at Fairway.

                  However, after shopping there for months I still find it confusing to navigate. Even when I think I know which isle to check, I still can't find the product I'm looking for. The newish signs help a bit, but it would be nice to have the organics/Specialty items on one side of the aisle and the regular products on the other side of the SAME aisle, rather than having to run around all over the place to find things. I also find that the deli seems to always be out of whatever I initially want. Maybe because I tend to shop in the evening? I have been fairly disapointed in the breads at the bakery section. After trying many different loaves (most of which looked good), I've gone back to buying factory produced bread. I do enjoy their baguettes and bagels, although I wish the bagels were baked fresh throughout the day as they tend to be "old" by the time I pick them up in the evening.