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Is it me, or is Fairway in Paramus taking a turn for the worse?

Now, don't get me wrong. I still love the place. But I can't get over how much some things have changed over the past several months.

First of all, their prices on most items have gone through the roof. Now I know they couldn't maintain those ridiculous grand opening prices for long, but they held the line for quite some time on most items. But recently, the prices have skyrocketed, and their sales have become... meh, for lack of a better term. No more "pick of the week" high-end cheese specials (and no more sales on parmigiano reggiano), no more cake specials in the bakery, and ever increasing deli and produce prices. I know it's a tough economy and I know they've had to raise prices some (especially on things like coffee), but this isn't exactly a company that seems to be hurting financially.

Also, as the store has gotten busier and busier, they seem to have cut help. Waits are still manageable at the registers most of the time, but the waits at the counters, especially at the deli, can be epic. Yes, there are tons of people, and there used to be tons of help. Now, not nearly as much.

Meanwhile, the Corrados fortresses in both Wayne and Clifton seem to have been holding the line on their prices for the most part. Wayne especially has amazing prepared foods and meats that are every bit as good as Fairway's, but they're charging significantly less for their stuff. (The only beef I have with Corrado's is that they're starting to charge more for some items in Wayne than they are in Clifton, even though they originally stated that prices in both locations were the same. Still, they're charging way less than Fairway.)

Now Fairway still has a lot of positives. Their house smoked salmon, although expensive, may be the best in the country, if not the planet. Even with the price increases, most deli meats are still cheaper than what you'd pay in a typical supermarket. Their fresh coffee is great. Their cheese department is the best of any area market, hands down. And you could never get Jewish treats like the smoked salmon or noodle kugel at Corrado's.

But the huge prices increases and decreasing help have had me going there less and less recently. Is it just me?

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  1. You mentioned price increases at the top, then down below you talk about stuff being "cheaper than the supermarket". Do you have some specifics on what items are expensive in Fairway? I still find them to have better quality and lower prices on the items in there that supermarkets carry--

    In fact, I've noticed some lower pricing in the local ShopRite lately, I have a feeling that it's due to Fairway. Supermarkets are feeling its pinch.

    Corrado's is a different experience than Fairway. Lower quality means lower prices. I haven't been to Wayne, but the Corrado deli in Clifton looked poisonous last time I was there...

    5 Replies
    1. re: menton1

      OK, to get real specific...

      When Fairway opened, their hot and cold salad bars were $4.99 per pound, an incredible price, even 2 1/2 years ago. Then they raised it to $5.99. Still good, but quite an increase. Now, it's $6.99 per pound. Still cheaper than most supermarkets, which would probably charge around $7.99 per pound for comparable (but likely lower quality) items, but a big increase in the span of 2 1/2 years.

      Boar's Head deli meats were mostly $6.99 per pound when Fairway opened, again, an incredble price. The meats are now around $8.99 per pound. Still a little cheaper than the typical supermarket, but again a bit much for an increase in a 2 1/2 year period, IMHO.

      The olive bar is now $6.99 per pound, and sun dried tomatoes are $8.99 per pound.

      These are a couple of examples. On top of that, the sales haven't been nearly as good lately. For example, every few week Fairway would put parmigiano reggiano on sale for $8.99 per pound. Now, the regular price is about $16.99 per pound, and it never goes on sale anymore. Ditto for bakery cakes, which seem to sell in the $17 range now for a 7" cake. The Fairway smoked salmon used to be about $23 per pound when they opened, but went on sale every few weeks for about $16 per pound. Now, it's about $30 per pound and goes on "sale" once in a blue moon for $28 per pound.

      Meanhwhile, Corrado's in Wayne charges around $4.99 per pound for most of their prepared foods. Sun dried tomatoes are $4.99 per pound in Clifton, $6.99 per pound in Wayne (this is what I was talking about when I said Corrado's was starting to charge more for some items in Wayne, although both places are still cheaper than Fairway.)

      Now, again, I love the store, and still go there regularly. In fact, they are primarily responsible for making my mainstream supermarket very rare. I just think that they're increasing prices too much too quickly on a lot of items.

      1. re: menton1

        "Corrado's is a different experience than Fairway. Lower quality means lower prices. I haven't been to Wayne, but the Corrado deli in Clifton looked poisonous last time I was there..."

        Amen

        A few years ago, I decided to visit the famed Corrado's location in Clifton. Although the prices were good, the produce looked...not so fresh, and a lot of the packaged goods seemed to be very low-end products. However, I would still have spent additional time in the store hunting out bargains if not for the offensive smell permeating the store.

        I couldn't quite nail down the exact nature of the smell (it was not cheese!), but it was definitely unpleasant and it seemed to echo the overall unclean appearance of the store. Based on that experience, I don't plan a return visit to Corrado's anytime soon.

        1. re: Ted in Central NJ

          Ted, a few years ago Corrado's in Clifton was perhaps a bit "colorful", but it looks great nowadays. The store is really clean, the isles are less crowded, I find it a good place to shop.

        2. re: menton1

          The Wayne store might as well have a different name. It's worlds apart from the Clifton store, although I've noticed a dip in the quality of their meats since they first opened.

          Fairway is still cheaper than anyone around, and with better quality for the most part. Once their prices actually get higher than those of its competitors, I'll consider being upset. Until then, regardless of how quickly there is a change in price, it doesn't matter to me. It's expected.

          1. re: tommy

            I agree. Food prices are skyrocketing everywhere. But Fairway's prices remain lower than just about anywhere else in NNJ... Even the olive bar, which can be quite good, at 6.99 is cheaper than the horrible ones in the Supermarkets at 8.99! Bagels are good and cheaper than the average bagel store-- coffees are well priced-- And Fairway has a variety of specialty goods unmatched by any of these stores. I'm really glad Fairway is in Paramus.

        3. We moved to central NJ (Monmouth Cty.) from NYC 20+ years ago. Fairway was our go-to market in the city and boy did we miss it when we moved to NJ. Now shopping at Wegman's and Whole Foods is an option, and finally Trader Joe's came to the area as well, but there is nothing like Fairway. When we venture to the Paramus area, we always stop by and stock up on items no purveyors carry in our area.

          As for the prices, well, I see food prices skyrocketing across the board, no matter where I shop. Unfortunately, with the way things are going, I'd venture to guess the economic pressures on all food purveyors are only going to increase, and so they'll pass along the increases to their customers, either directly by price increases, or indirectly, with employee and service cutbacks.

          Even with that, I'd still prefer Fairway over anyplace else. Enjoy your shopping at Fairway, many of us wish we had one nearby!

          9 Replies
          1. re: tomwocat

            I wish they would open a Fairway here in the Marlboro/Manalapan area. Wegman's prices keep going through the roof and I find that their produce has not been up to par lately at all. I love Fairway and have been to the Paramus store when visiting friends. It is wonderful...and yes, they carry alot of items that can't be found elsewhere.

            1. re: charmel

              They are under a major expansion, they opened up 4 new stores in 2 years, perhaps CNJ is on their list...I believe I heard that these expansions are due to a new partnership with overseas investors!

              1. re: charmel

                And it would be great if they opened a Wegman's in Northern NJ! Fairway's departments, even with the price increases, are cheaper than Wegman's, but Wegman's is a full supermarket, and has some awesome stuff too (and their general grocery prices aren't bad)! They're both great places!

                1. re: zhelder

                  We had this discussion about Wegman's a few years ago... Apparently, there just isn't enough space in Bergen for the size of store they want, and they don't want to go into any other county in NNJ.

                  For something different, you can take a little trek to Stew Leonard's in Yonkers-- a very unique supermarket.

                  1. re: menton1

                    I love Stew Leonard's too, Menton. I've been there three times already, and I'm planning for trip #4 soon. I wish they'd build a store in NJ too, but I guess the space issue is a concern for them, too.

                    I know space in Bergen County is tight, but I find it hard to believe there's nowhere they can build. I'd think Mahwah would be great for a Stew Leonard's, and maybe Wayne for a Wegman's (not Bergen County, but close enough)!

                    1. re: zhelder

                      It's not just space -- Bergen County is a miserable place to do business. Taxes are high, but that's true everywhere in NJ. The bigger issue is all the antiquated regulations and hassles from inspectors and the like. I've heard people say that there's no reason to build in Bergen County when there are other parts of the state that are also attractive with fewer hassles.

                      On the main topic of this thread, I will only say that Fairway destroys Wegmans. Wegmans does a few things well -- their corn is great right now -- but the service sucks and the stores are deceptively large. Once you dismiss all the low quality crap food they're selling at Wegmans, the portion of the store that actually impresses you is pretty small. The same is not true of Fairway. They don't waste their space by stocking low quality foods in huge quantities. And they don't banish foods to an "international" section in the corner -- they keep things organized by food type, which is more efficient for the shopper and, frankly, a lot less provincial than Wegmans.

                      1. re: glutton

                        I shop in the Manalapan Wegmans on a fairly regular basis and find your observations very, very accurate.

                        When I began shopping there years ago it seemed like a better bet than Shoprite or Food Town. I was impressed at the "Health Food" section although WholeFoods is certainly much better because they specialize in those products.

                        About 2 years ago i was talking to another customer while in Wegmans and she told me the Original Wegman's owner had died and it was since then the entire chain had been going in the wrong direction. I'm almost 70 years old now and Rte-9 terrifies me so I'm not going to travel very far to food shop.

                        By the way where is the nearest Fairway store to Manalapan?

                        1. re: bogsidebunny

                          It's up in Paramus unfortunately; if Rt 9 is terrifying, the Parkway may well be even moreso :(

                    2. re: menton1

                      I was so disapointed in Stew Leonard's. It reminded me of a Disney ride, only 1 way through the whole place, winding around & around - I could never shop there on a regular basis. It's such a time-waster.

                      Fairway is still a prize, it's the only place I'll buy seafood. I love the way the deli guy slices my salmon & always gives me a taste. Then I visit with the coffee guy or the cheese guy, and then check out the seafood counter. It's like a bunch of mini-purveyors in 1 location. And it's the real deal. Not gimmicky like Stew's.

              2. Fairway in Manhattan has raised prices at a huge clip these past few years. Just a couple of years back they offered the best value in the city, but today that has changed, their goal is to match the highest prices offered by their competitors, They seem to be gambling that while they'll lose a few customers enough will pay the higher price. It remains to be seen if this strategy works, as Trader Joes has picked up business at Fairway's expense.

                9 Replies
                1. re: trumpster

                  In the two years since I started this thread, Fairway has continued to raise their prices through the roof on most items. I went there every week for the first two years when they opened in Paramus. Now, I might go once every six weeks, and I don't buy as much as I used to. I'm getting better deals on most items of comparable quality at the Wayne Corrado's, and, be still my heart, even the Market Basket in Franklin Lakes. Fairway has simply gotten too rich for my blood, with all of the good alternatives available for less money these days.

                  1. re: zhelder

                    Have you been to the Totowa Fairway? I find this store to be superior to Paramus. They always seem to have specials that don't show up in Paramus. $5.99 Moz, olive oil on sale, bulk sales and a nice beer selection. Because it was a Pathmark its quite a bit bigger than the Paramus store and they haven't started moving everything around like they keep on doing in Paramus. They have also have a few good prime meat sales in the last few months.As far as Carrados goes if you are very selective there are very good deals to be had on produce. The meats and cheeses are a different story.

                    1. re: double0

                      I've been there, several times. It's a nicer store than Paramus, and the sales were better there until recently. For the past couple of months, or so, however, the sale prices have been pretty much the same at both stores (and that doesn't mean they lowered the Paramus prices). Plus, the one or two sale items on sale for decent prices per week doesn't make up for the expense of most items in the store.

                      As far as Corrado's, I find the Wayne store's prepared foods to be of comparable quality to Fairway - at about 40% lower prices in most cases. And their mozzarella guy, Billy, makes fresh mozzarella that's way better than Fairway's for about the same price.

                      As for produce, OK, Corrado's overall quality might be a bit behind Fairway's. But I can live with that when I'm paying a dime instead of a dollar for a lemon or $1.99 per pound for fruit salad instead of at least triple that at Fairway.

                      1. re: zhelder

                        I shop at the Fairway in Woodland Park, NJ. There was a time in late spring 2013 where not a week would go by without seeing a 1/2 off sale on prime strips or prime ribeyes. Now, it feels like 3-4 months has elapsed since I have seen them on sale. Has anyone else noticed this? Any reason for the drought?

                        1. re: liebersh

                          Beef is through the roof over the last year or so. Guess their bids all ran out.

                    2. re: zhelder

                      Plainview Long Island's store has become more expensive, procucts I used to be able to count on are spotty in appearance and their produce is nothing to brag about. Don't even get me started on the rear cheese case. It's where old, stinky, rotten cheese goes to die. I said that to one of the cheese men there and he confirmed it with a laugh. Just throw it OUT. I'm also finding out dated items on the shelves regularly.

                      1. re: mcf

                        I went to Plainview for my yearly stock up last month. 5 or 6 not quite full bags, albeit fine vinegars, oils, lox, Blue Mt coffee, honey, etc. But $250? Not like the old days, for sure.

                      2. re: zhelder

                        Hey zhelder, I feel your pain.

                        I am also a regular at the Wayne Corrado's. I found the quality at the Corrado's is pretty good, with the occasional dip in quality for out of season items. They also tended to run out of romaine lettuce on a regular basis, which is frustrating. That said, the fish and meat are pretty good...although the chicken spoils within a day or two if you don't freeze it.

                        My new foodie love is the Giant Farmers Market in Oakland. Nice meat, beautiful fish, inexpensive fruit and produce. Quality is pretty high all around. Oh, and the real community farmer's market on Saturdays by the library is pretty spectacular too, with actual affordable produce.

                        Fairway, on the other hand, forget it. Since they went public, they have started raising prices and cutting corners. They are now a fancy gourmet store, foodies not welcome. https://www.google.com/finance?q=NASD...

                        The price of the small prepackaged 4oz packets of lox / nova / smoked salmon has gone skyrocketed. Fresh produce is as expensive as a regular grocery store. Oh, and the samples. They drastically reduced the oil samples, cut back on the bread to use, and have sample nazi ready to yell at you if you don't use a toothpick. Even the olives aren't as tasty. The price discrepancies are at their worst at new locations, like in Woodland Park (West Paterson) on Route 46.

                        The real way to shop for food in Bergen County is to try to buy each specialty market's loss leaders. Fairway has trimmed those items, but the others haven't.

                        1. re: ubuwalker31

                          "...and have sample nazi ready to yell at you if you don't use a toothpick." That's the only thing I *don't* object to...have you ever watched people taking the bread? I'm not a germaphobe AT ALL and it grosses me out.

                    3. The "Fairway" Smoked salmon hand sliced is still only $7.99-1/4lb, and the service clerks do a masterful job of slicing it paper-thin.

                      This is definitely the absolute lowest price around for hand cut smoked salmon, sliced to perfection, and the product itself is very very good. Very mild and silky. Still a great Fairway deal. Also, huge product turnover means a very fresh product.

                      Also, the on-premise made bagels and rolls are excellent, and cheaper than most bagel stores, comparable quality. Bagels are 69 cents regular, and they run sales for 2 for $1.00. Mini bagels, bialys and flagels are very good as well.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: lemarais

                        I agree, their smoked salmon is incredible, and it's still one of the few things I go to Fairway for. But two years ago, the regular price on it was about $5.99 per 1/4 lb., and there were occasional sales for $3.99 per 1/4 lb. Now, the regular price is $7.99 per 1/4 lb., and the once in a blue moon sale might be for $6.99 per 1/4 lb. Tha's a big jump in a fairly short period of time.

                        1. re: zhelder

                          The quality at fairway has not changed too much over the years, with maybe two exceptions. At the Harlem store on Sunday the produce is clearly on its last leg. I've gotten burned more than once. Also they stock more fish from China or areas where the standards are not as good as the U.S. and Canada.

                          1. re: zhelder

                            So true, zhelder. I used to scan the flyers excitedly to see if their smoked salmon was on sale. $4.99 was the sales price then & it was delicious. The same thing now for $7.99 just doesn't excite me.

                            I still love the fish at Fairway, it's really fresh, they have excellent dry scallops, and beautiful wild salmon from AK.

                            And I'm so over the extreme pyramid displays of produce. It's deceiving because it looks like you are getting so much to choose from, but the pyramid really limits you to the amount of "loose" items you can actually grab. And they routinely spill onto the floor.

                        2. Re/ Fairway smoked salmon-- I doubt it was ever $3.99, unless that was a grand opening sale, but lox has gone up everywhere. At most dumpy little ethnic delis it is 10-11 bucks a 1/4 pound, like Petaks or Kosher Nosh, and it is not nearly as fresh nor do they cut it very well.

                          Fairway is still a good deal.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: lemarais

                            I've seen sale prices a Fairway for $3.99, but not recently. They often sell the ends for that price though. The $2 price jump was pretty shitty, and they lost me as a regular customer. My local bagel shop has the same Acme smoked salmon for .50 cents less...why should I waste the gas?