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Local food market pet peeves, or worse!

We all have them. Some stores are worse than others, but even your favorite may get your dander up for one reason or another. Like that beautiful looking family pack of boneless chicken thighs on sale at Shaws, that once opened, reveals a pound of fat carefully tucked under the great looking meat. Or the fact that Stop & Shop only employs one bagger for what seems like every 300 customers (and I'm never one of them).

Even your favorite market screws the pooch now and again. I am the ultimate Market Basket fanboi, but last night I cooked a whole chicken that I bought there. Imagine my surprise when I pulled out the giblet bag from the body cavity to find it contained, and I kid you not, 1 neck, 4 livers, 2 gizzards, and 6 hearts!! That must have been one bizarre chicken. My dogs were quite happy, though, and the giblet gravy was plentiful and delish.

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  1. Living in Concord now, the local Crosby's produce section is pathetic. I guess old school New England really has little use for veg anyway.

    Also, can we please just change ALL of the Shaw's into Market Baskets.

    And lastly would the Demoula family please stop stabbing each other in the back so you can get back to work and open the Waltham Market Basket?

    1 Reply
    1. re: StriperGuy

      ...and the Revere MB as well, please

    2. I recently bought a cooked rotisserie chicken from Market Basket and found stuffed in the cavity two drumsticks. They were damn tasty too!

      7 Replies
        1. re: StriperGuy

          So were those extra innards that CapeCodGuy got - I can't figure out why that counts as a pet peeve or "screw[ing] the pooch."

          1. re: Allstonian

            Because if I want innards, I'll pay for innards and not at whole chicken prices per pound. Rotisserie chicken is charged by the eaches, so 2 extra pieces ARE a bonus. Raw chicken is by the pound. Kapish?

            1. re: CapeCodGuy

              Innards generally cost more per pound than whole chicken, so it still seems to me that you got a deal. But then again, I tend to be disappointed when I buy a whole chicken and it contains no innards at all (all too often), so clearly we're coming from different points of view.

              1. re: Allstonian

                That's a major peeve buying a whole chicken and not getting the innards!

                1. re: Allstonian

                  I'd be upset too if I was stiffed out of any innards. But I don't know where you shop where innards are more expensive than whole roaster chicken. A pint of innards at MB is 89 cents per pound where a roaster is twice that, or so. No biggie really, just had never seen it before.

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    At least now you know where they are. Head for the Sagamore Bridge and make CCG give you your rightful gizzards!;-)

          2. My pet peeve with the Market Basket I shop at are things that I need to buy that are out of stock - every week there is always something. Last week there was no plain greek yogurt in large sizes - any brand - only greek yogurt they had was single cups of chiobani. Sometimes there's no iceburg - or its in really bad shape, sometimes no mixed salad greens, or no sandwich thins etc. Then they fill in those spaces with something else, so you don't know if they are just out or dicontinued stocking that item. I guess its the price you pay for trying to save a few bucks.

            4 Replies
            1. re: LStaff

              Compared to my local Crosby's I would say the Burlington Market Basket represents a nearly 50% discount on most items.

              1. re: LStaff

                agree about inconsistent inventory in all their stores.

                the ghetto basket closest to the b/f's house is on fletcher st. in lowell. if you try going on a sunday afternoon, the produce section looks like the zombie apocalypse just swept through. the displays are mostly barren and what remains is limp and lifeless.

                there also seems to be no chain-wide system for where in the store to find stuff. some have seltzer with the soda, while in others it is several aisles away.

                1. re: LStaff

                  Yes it is. They do a low margin, high volume business without deep inventory: that's one part of how they are able to get you the prices you prefer. You want deep inventory, you gotta pay up for that. They know how to do what they do well. Unlike Shaw's or S&S, for example, the poster children locally for guaranteed mediocrity.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    Yes, but at Shaws and S&S you get to pay an ultra-premium for that mediocrity. It's tougher on the Cape as they are the only game in town. But that's why so many now travel to the bridge for MB., or even Hingham for WF.

                2. My pet peeves mostly involve the patrons at these stores (I'm looking at you River St. Whole Foods!).

                  I do wish some of the urban stores would buy more of those half carts and fewer of the large ones.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mkfisher

                    patrons? lol. i have never seen as many people shopping in their pyjamas as they are wont to do in lowell mb's. i am in the distinct minority wearing real pants.

                    also have seen some things for which there is not enough eye bleach.

                    1. re: mkfisher

                      The Porter Sq Shaws recently invested in a new batch of those half carts. It made me happier than it should have.

                    2. Your dogs eat well!

                        1. I prefer to bag my own groceries.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Bellachefa

                            Me too. I once literally got six plastic bags for three items at a Star once. That's one of many reasons why I only go through the self-check aisle if one is available.

                          2. The closest supermarket to me is a Star Market. When I say close, I mean walking distance. But, it annoys the heck out of me and I only go in there for a "quick stop". One of my biggest pet peeves about it, is that they don't carry any Organic eggs. None. I mean, come on...BJ's down the street carries Organic eggs now. Oh, and their Deli selection is nasty.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mwk

                              ---Stinky seafood stinking up the joints
                              ---Stop and Shop bathrooms with the papertowel roll kept on the diaper changing table where the little dirty bottoms are changed...
                              --Poland Springs sports bottles, being the largest bottles of the six packs, being kept on the top shelf to break your back
                              --very old expiration dates. especially holiday stuff from previous years

                            2. Well, last time I went to TJ's I had to jump several times to get the cheese I wanted (I'm really short) and the guy giving out wine samples nearby laughed at me.

                              But then he gave me extra wine samples to make up for it so I feel like I won in the end.

                              In general, though, I hate when markets have things up high and I can't reach and I have to get someone to get it down for me, although I realize the world is not designed for people who are 5 ft tall.

                              1. My pet peeve is that Trader Joe's in Fresh Pond doesn't have an express check out lane. When I have complained, they say that they like to treat everyone the same, but a person with a huge cart of groceries is not in fact the same as someone with 4 items whose back is going to spasm if she has to wait in line behind 3-4 full carts.

                                1. I went to MB on monday for 2 things.. Cauliflower and Onions... It was 8:30 and they close at 9.. There were young employees goofing around everywhere. A gang of about 8 of them were "working" to straighten up the produce dept. I walked by them like 5 times looking for those 2 items and nobody asked me what i was looking for. Finally I walked over and asked them "where is the cauliflower"... "oh we dont have that".. "how about yellow or cooking onions".. "oh we are out of that too"... All they had were red onions..
                                  I ended up getting a bag of frozen cauliflower and a bag of frozen pearl onions (forgot how much i hate pearl onions)... Go to the cashier, she is reading a book or her phone or something. She rings up my 2 items, it comes to $2.68... I give her a $5 bill.. She is then digging in the take a penny/give a penny thing for 8cents.. i didn't pay much attention as to why.. She gives me back 3 ones and i go on my way.. On the drive home, i am thinking about that and it didn't sound right.. Pull out the receipt and sure enough she put in $5.68 tended, $3 change.. guess her drawer was short at least .60 that night. Had i paid more attention while there i would have said something but i certainly wasn't turning around and driving back.

                                  22 Replies
                                  1. re: hargau

                                    That reminds me of when I was shopping at Market Basket in Raynham once and over the store's loud speaker I hear someone (I'm assuming a manager) sternly bark "Mary Anne. Put. Your. Phone. Down!" So classy.

                                    1. re: LStaff

                                      public shaming worked great for the puritans, didn't it?

                                    2. re: hargau

                                      Im afraid i just dont get the Market Basket thing.

                                      The only time I went to the Somerville Basket, the parking lot looked like Jason Bourne should have been riding across the hoods of the cars on a stolen dirt bike.

                                      I found myself staring at the meat coolers in the middle of a asian family in the midst of a huge argument, a solid foot taller than any of the participants.

                                      Pallets of stock in the middle of the aisles, bumped from behind countless times, dazed overwhelmed staff trying desperately not to make eye contact.

                                      Maybe its cheap. At one point I would have paid 10usd just to get the hell out of there.

                                      1. re: hyde

                                        It's really cheap and I find that the produce is actually pretty decent, plus you can get a lot of products you don't find without going to certain speciality markets.

                                        I do walk there though--the parking lot is pretty brutal. The crowds can be maddening. Don't go there hungover, hungry or with low blood sugar.

                                        Often I am of different ethnicity or height of many people there but I'd never think that was an item for the "con" column...

                                        1. re: hyde

                                          Normally we shop at the new MB stores and have not had any of those issues. They have great parking. The experience i had monday was me stopping into an old store for 2 quick things. The height of other shoppers doesnt make a difference to me

                                          1. re: hargau

                                            it can to me. am only 5'2", so can't always reach stuff on the top shelf. :)

                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                              I'm 5'4" and shrinking fast, and have often had a fellow customer offer to reach something for me when I was struggling. It's a very nice kind of community touch.

                                          2. re: hyde

                                            Boy, my experiences at the Bourne MB is polar opposite of yours, and others I've read regarding older stores. Sure it's busy, almost always. Yes, they stock during the day to keep costs down which can make for a more frustrating experience. But it's clean and well organized. The food selection is miles broader than Stop and Shop because they don't sell all that crappy, overpriced general merchandise in the center aisles, and the turnover in the meat, fish, and produce departments is so brisk, everything is very fresh. And the help actually smiles and is helpful. All that and I save 50% on my food bills. No gripes there, except for slipping in the extra gizzards when I only need one!

                                            1. re: hyde

                                              Try the Burlington location, bigger, better, cleaner, MUCH better presentation and selection including a takeout lunch counter and a very good donut shop. The difference is shocking.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                I do the weekly shopping mid morning on Sundays and avoid the Burlington location due to the cluster-f it can be on weekends - in the parking lot and in the store. I always feel like I'm in someone's way there. I usually go to the Billerica in the Old Towne plaza - even though there is less selection, its usually pretty mellow, plenty of parking, and you hardly ever see a line at checkout. The donuts are awesome there too.

                                              2. re: hyde

                                                Ok, you stay at your grocery stores, we Asians will stay at our Market Basket.


                                                1. re: hyde

                                                  You're lucky noone bit you in the shins.

                                                  1. re: hyde

                                                    That MB is a different world. Go to Chelsea instead.

                                                    The MB stocking-during-open-hours is part of how they save you money. It's a challenge in the older stores with narrow aisles; not so much in the new generation stores (Chelsea, Burlington, Reading, probably Revere once it opens). The new generation stores are a delight. The seafood counters are generally higher quality than WF.

                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                      i could not believe the lame quality and assortment at the andover wf fish counter. my chelmsford mb is waaaaaaaaaaaaay better.

                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                        Likewise, I feel we get much higher quality and fresher fish at the Medford SS than we do at the Medford WF. The selection is not as good, but I will take freshness over variety any day.

                                                        1. re: weg

                                                          if i recall correctly, they had tuna steaks and that was the only wild fish available. it was a saturday and they didn't even have scallops. it's new england for god's sake.

                                                      2. re: Karl S

                                                        I wouldn't call the new generation stores a delight, just more like getting a cavity filled than the root canal experience that shopping at Woburn or Danvers MB is.

                                                        We call it Crazy Basket in our house and I've never left any of them, Burlington and Reading included, without feeling some level of stress. However that stress does get nicely balanced out by feeling like I did the responsible thing and saved money on my groceries. But I always feel like I sold a small piece of my sanity for that savings.

                                                        1. re: Chris VR

                                                          in the newer stores, very early mornings can be pretty calm. the bigger square footage helps too.

                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                            The very new Hudson and Westford stores are awesome!

                                                          2. re: Chris VR

                                                            Well, I mostly go to MB early, so I avoid that problem (the joy of being a lark). You should be aware that that Reading and Chelsea, at least, are open before their stated opening hours, though not all stocking is done of produce and the deli counter is only staffed by one person typically before proper opening time.

                                                        2. re: hyde

                                                          The 'ville MB is truly something out of a Mad Max movie. I feel like I take a few years off my life every time I go in there. OTOH I live right in between it and the porter sq shaws (I won't mention the beacon st star, it's freaking awful) and MB is a little bit cheaper & tends to be more on my way so I go there more frequently.

                                                          The one thing I do appreciate about that MB beyond the typical claims is that they tend to have more and more variety of hunks of beast, bits & pieces, odds & ends, ribs, etc. Shaws is a much more typical meat department.

                                                      3. The Shaws/Star in Porter Square is always out of the most random produce staples. Oh, you don't have any garlic? No lemons?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. I might suggest that this is the way almost all factory-farmed chickens are packaged these days and has little to do with any particular grocery. When I handled twelve chickens in a day, every cavity was a grab bag (at least one liver in each, since that's prized).

                                                          1. Easy, that the local Star market (on Beacon in Brookline) is a complete ripoff. We do most of our shopping at a combo of WF, TJ, and ethnic markets. For cheaper staples, instead of Star, we hit Target.

                                                            Occasionally, I'll need something at the last minute and I'll run to Star and I'm always shocked that their prices for mass-produced processed goods is higher than WF. Really? $5 for a tiny jar of Hellman's? Am I shopping in an airport?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Klunco

                                                              I always feel less stressed at the Reading MB than at the big stop and shops. Except for before Thanksgiving or weekends, but esp later evening its somewhat quiet, unless I ruin it by posting this! and the kids working there are very froemdly and helpful and the produce manager readlly knows what he has that is from local farms, and I find the inventory to have more hard to find specialty items than other chains.

                                                            2. I love Reading MB, but I hate the way they treat shellfish. They often have decent stuff, but in my experience they often put it in a bin without ice. Or, there may have been ice at some point, but it was never replaced. I only buy clams or mussels if I can get there early.

                                                              I don't really understand S&S or Shaws. I'm not really sure what there business model is. I find WF oppressive, like $6 for a small bag of spinach, but at least they have some unique items, and wine and beer. They treat their shellfish really well, covered in ice.

                                                              10 Replies
                                                              1. re: DTHEASH1

                                                                only a handful of wf have wine or beer.

                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                      Companies are now going to be allowed 5 state-wide liquor licenses? I wonder where Trader Joe's and WF will position theirs...

                                                                      1. re: Parsnipity

                                                                        the new law will allow 5 and eventually 10 per chain.

                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                          That's awesome.

                                                                          Also, greygarious' post about it already being in effect makes some sense - the shaws at twin city plaza just put in a new liquor store area and I was surprised that they'd burn one of their 3 right there.

                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                            The new liquour section at the Somerville Shaw's is technically a different store (must pay there, shows on credit card receipt as a different store name). Anyone know if this counts towards the 3 (or 5)?

                                                                            1. re: mkfisher

                                                                              I'll bet it's an end run around the current limitations. Why else would they inconvenience customers by making them go through two checkout procedures?

                                                                        2. re: Parsnipity

                                                                          I believe they are already allowed 5. Several months ago on another thread, I mentioned the 3-limit rule, whereupon someone posted to correct me.

                                                                  1. re: DTHEASH1

                                                                    I don't buy shellfish other than scallops, and they treat that well: generally, the stuff moves so fast they are constantly restocking from cold storage so that it doesn't seem to matter.

                                                                  2. I am consistently amazed that they dont have a person to bag items when you use the self serve lane at Stop & Shop (or at least the Greater Boston stores). They seem to assign just one person to those lanes who is usually chatting with coworkers and generally ignoring people struggle to unload the cart, place the items on the belt in a way the machine can register them, pay and then bag. They only seem to spring into action when the automated cashier gets confused - but other than that, 100% useless.

                                                                    If the customer is saving them half the labor cost, the least they could do is position one or two people to lend a hand across the lanes - and bonus, the lines will move faster thereby encouraging more folks to use self checkout and eventually saving even more in labor.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: mikeinboston

                                                                      Those people are paid to watch for theft at the self-serve registers. Any assistance they provide is entirely incidental, arbitrary and capricious, fwiw.

                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                        That may be true, but so is saying ANY service at Stop & Shop is entirely incidental, arbitrary and capricious....

                                                                      2. re: mikeinboston

                                                                        In light of how many MB baggers are disinterested, distracted high school kids, after glancing at the talent and making a snap judgment, I often ask the bagger to unload my cart onto the belt while *I* do the packing. It's rare in general to see a teen employee being a neat bagger, but MBs seem to have the worst ones. I lavishly compliment the good ones, and mention it to the manager if s/he is in the vicinity.

                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                          Ha, grey, I still remember your fresh fish packed on the just-steamed lobster. Ugh.

                                                                      3. It is almost impossible to describe the hellish mediocrity that is the Lexington Stop and Shop. It is dirty, depressing, and way too close to my house.

                                                                        I think their produce is gleaned from boxes that fell off a long-haul truck. Who has brown, wilted kale this time of year? And no broccoli? Really?

                                                                        They use a computer system from the 80s that requires the checker (or you) to scan every single one of your 20 identical cans of cat food, rather than just scanning one and multiplying by 20 to save time. The cash registers go down frequently, resulting in backups in every line, and they usually only have one bagger for the entire store.

                                                                        The only reason I shop there is because it's less than a mile from my house, and I don't always want to deal with Middlesex Turnpike traffic just to pick up a gallon of milk and a few items from the far superior (and cheaper) Burlington Market Basket.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                                          Sad, though very well written

                                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                                            That's too bad. I have probably not been there since 1985 but at one time used to shop there regularly. That was before they expanded to Super S&S. The manager's name was Tom Flynn and he obviously ran a tight ship. Matter of fact, in my 40+ yrs of grocery shopping he was the only store manager I've ever seen enough to recognize, much less know by name. You know how at most stores when you ask a stockboy if there's any more "X" in the back, they'll go "look", and come back 3 minutes later, after doing who knows what, to say there's no more in stock? That just never happened when Mr. Flynn was there overseeing the aisles and registers.

                                                                            1. re: Isolda

                                                                              From Lexington common, Hancock st, to Adams st. to North St will take you directly to the MB plaza's back entrance. You still have to deal with the parking lot traffic though. :-)

                                                                              I agree with that SnS though - was forced to shop there on Mother's day? when MB was closed- wicked expensive too.