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Which is your favorite supermarket chain, and why?

There's been several threads derailed lately by some (myself included) talking about which chain does a good job and which do not. My feelings are clear that I'm a Market Basket supporter. Maybe it's because here on the Cape, Stop and Shop has had such a monopoly with only the horrendous Shaw's chain as competition. Before MB came to town, we had to put up with S&S ridiculous pricing, low quality, surly service (when you got any service at all) all with a "We could not care less" attitude. Although I must endure the crowds at MB, I enjoy over 40% savings, a wider selection, fresher quality, and service with a smile. An added bonus, there's no "scan your own order and bag it yourself" lines at MB. It does often boil down to price, where S&S is sometimes borderline criminal. Just one example is Boursin Cheese, $6.79 at S&S and $3.99 everyday at MB. How can they justify that kind of discrepancy? And it's throughout the store.

I'll always pay a premium and still patronize my local TJs for some specialty items, Roche Bros. for some of their prepared items, and my local independent grocery for their excellent butcher counter and my local fish monger for their great selection and quality. But the bulk of my shopping is MB. Even cheaper than BJs without the member fees and huge sizes.

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  1. Roche bros.

    Though my go to is the N. Quincy Stop and Shop. Which used to be awesome and now is only fine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: C. Hamster

      N Quincy S&S is my go to, if only because it's about 5 minutes from where I live. I find this S&S decent, with moderate prices, but no real bargains (unless one of their occasional deep discounts) -- I for one love their scan/bag your own. I typically have zero wait, and I don't mind organizing my goods into my own shopping bag the way I like it.

      If I had a choice, I would love an MB or a Wegmans more accessible to me. As it is, I generally like the product selection at Hannaford's (which is still close enough for me to make regular visits) and Roche Bros (the occasional trip if I hit Walmart) better.

    2. Market Basket is really the best..however I will say not all Market Baskets are created equal. There are a couple I would not shop at due to cleanliness and freshness issues but overall I don't think any other supermarket can compare to their prices.
      They are also very good to their employees and don't need a union to do this. I've never been treated rudely and the grocery manager at the location I shop at will stock specialty items if you request them. He's done it for me on several different occasions...virtually eliminating my trips to Whole Foods.
      One caveat..I don't purchase meat or seafood at any grocery store..so can't speak to that.

      1 Reply
      1. come on MB and then Whole Foods.

        small groceries have advantages

        1. I do the majority of my shopping at Market Basket. The prices can't be beat and I like the quality. Seafood I buy from Whole Foods.

          8 Replies
          1. re: viperlush

            there are better options in cambridge for seafood; new deal and then courthouse top the list.

            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

              Of course, I shop at both when I plan to cook seafood. But neither are within easy walking distance and most of the time seafood is a last minute quick meal for us.

              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                I would shop at both of those stores so much more if they were open a half hour later. By the time I'm on my way home from work, they're always either closed or pretty well packed up.

              2. re: viperlush

                I find the quality of MB's seafood in its newer stores to be generally of noticeably higher quality than WF's; probably because they sell what moves at a price point that moves it in high volume and fast, and that's the way to keep the seafood fresh. (Then again, I am not buying much high-end seafood species, but for about 8 months last year, I was buying fish every other day and got to know well the strengths and weakness of the fish counters at all of the contenders....)

                1. re: Karl S

                  I absolutely agree 100%. I hate to say it, but the fish counter at my local MB in Sagamore moves so much product and is so fresh, it rivals many of the best fish mongers around, and that's saying some. Yesterday I asked for, and received the Captain's Cut on a piece of Atlantic cod. Fresh as can be and wild caught, over 2" thick and only $7.99 pound. Same pice is $12.99 and up anywhere else, including S&S and Shaws. Those stores move so little product these days I refuse to buy fish there anymore having been burned more than once on product that never should have been still on the counter. And What surprises me most about MB is they aren't shy of sometimes offering higher end seafood at their usual great pricing. I bought knuckle and claw meat yesterday at $23.99 lb. Last week they had Chilean Sea Bass for $24 lb, something one usually only finds at fine dining restaurants and never at a local fish counter. Their dry sea scallops are a steal at $13.99 on sale. And I often treat myself to fresh local halibut for $14.99 pound when my local monger is getting almost $30 lb. this summer.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    My local MB (Somerville) doesn't have a real seafood counter. Only prepackaged. So I only buy lobsters from them. I wish the Chelsea MB was more convienent because they are one of the newer MB's with an extensive seafood counter. I've never had issues with the River St WFs seafood department.

                    1. re: viperlush

                      The fish at the River Street WF is underwhelming compared to what can be had in better quality and for a better price at newer MBs.

                      1. re: viperlush

                        viper, I've bought both haddock and swordfish a couple of times from the Somerville MB. It's always been on sale so there is a good turnover but it's been fresh. I pick through the packages carefully to get the best sell-by date. So if you're really pressed for time and in the mood for fish, you might take a chance.

                  2. My wife and I are both Whole Foods people, though now that we live further out toward 495, we do a lot of our shopping at Donelan's and Trader Joe's. I work in the city and will get odd groceries at WFM during the day; she works along 95/128 and will either go to WFM Alewife or TJs/Donelans in the evening, depending on time/need.

                    We prefer having the option of purchasing the organic version of many products, which is an option that no chain besides Whole Foods really gives you. That's something we place a lot of value in. The tradeoff is obviously that you will wind up spending more money pound-for-pound at Whole Foods, but it's worth it to us.

                    We actually find Market Basket to be rather dreadful. Go to the bakery section, pick up an item, and look at the list of ingredients. It's a bit frightening.

                    I have no doubt that there are things the chain does very well, but they are just not things I tend to value. Stop & Shop and Donelan's remind me a lot of one another. They're very uninspiring. Maybe people like that in a grocer, but I don't know. We choose WFM and only shop elsewhere when forced, though my wife does pick up a lot of little snacky things at TJ's that she tends to enjoy.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: FinnFPM

                      The horrible bakery section at Market Basket is on of the reasons I love shopping there. Although I prefer homemade baked goods, the bakery sections at WFs, TJs and Wegmans are tempting. Too easy to blow my budget on sweets at those stores. Don't get the same temptation at MB.

                      1. re: viperlush

                        Haha. This made me laugh. That's a pretty good perspective. I in fact do tend to avoid the sweets at WFM but I can't say the same for my wife, and I grumble (but of course eat it) when she brings it home. But she wouldn't dream of buying something at the MB bakery.

                        1. re: viperlush

                          the b/f buys jessica's brick oven bread at mb. no weird ingredients, just flour, water, salt yeast.

                          we don't buy pre-made cakes/cookies etc.

                          we shop most frequently at ghetto basket. i've got dueling m/b and s&s across the highway from each other now and that s&s is highway robbery on produce and meats, even WITH my "savers'" card.

                          we're shopping farmer's markets now for produce, but in winter, i get that stuff mostly at asian markets, or haymarket when i am in that hood. dairy and eggs we get at shaw farms in dracut.

                          have given up on tj's for anything other than nuts and baking chocolate. the cheeses all suck and mostly everything else is processed or pre-made stuff i don't want.

                        2. re: FinnFPM

                          We are pretty much aligned with FinnFPM with our organic food choices. We shop the Fresh Pond/river st WF , ,as well as same location TJs. We live near Russos, but rarely frequent, I haven't found enough organic produce to make the trip worth it , for us. We frequent a lot of non chain places to round out our needs. Formaggio, Arax, Sevan , fastaschi...