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Are there such things as greengrocers, butcher shops and fish shops in the States?

I mean dedicated shops that sell only fruit and veg or meat or fish. I don't mean artisan or religious (e.g. halal butcher) specialty shops either - just general neighbourhood shops.

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    1. There are in California which is in the States:)

      4 Replies
      1. re: MamasCooking

        There are those who might argue that point...but I'm not one of them :)

        1. re: c oliver

          California is it's own separate little world. End.of.story.

        2. Massachusetts and New York too.

          1. Yes, I've lived in 3 states (California, Illinois, and Colorado) and all have dedicated shops. I think the hardest to find is dedicated seafood, but they do exist, especially in coastal states.

            1. butcher shops and fish shops in Florida, and produce can be bought from roadside stands

              1. Billy33 my daughter is a kiwi on your S.Island since 2012. She loves NZ. I wanted to mention that we also have farmers markets here. Outdoor venues where local farmers and food vendors bring their products to
                *market* and sell them usually on the week end. You can buy everything under the sun and then some at the big ones here in my county in N. California.

                2 Replies
                1. re: MamasCooking

                  It's fab that your daughter loves it here. Farmers markets are popular here in NZ but they tend to be held only on the weekend so the fruit and vege shop is a mainstay. They also tend to be cheaper than supermarkets for fruit and vege.

                  1. re: Billy33

                    She is a fabulous cook and they grow a huge garden, she has honey bees and hens that produce eggs. These are things she dreamed of here in California but could never obtain due to zoning rules etc. She also cooked a wild rabbit in a stew last week that her kiwi husband *bagged*. She lives in paradise:)

                2. Where i live in new york city there are fewer specialty shops than there once were but yes, there are still a number of butchers, fish markets, produce markets, cheese shops, spice shops, as well as many other specialty markets.

                  In the small town in CA where my parents live there is no special butcher shop but their farmers market has several specialty vendors (one only sells lamb and sheeps milk products)

                  1. Generally yes, but it varies a lot regionally. For example, in the non-coastal states, it would be hard to sustain a fishmonger shop, but you can find dedicated butcher shops.

                    That said, the big-cities probably make use of such shops easier. Here where I live in Indiana, I know of two dedicated butcher shops, but getting to either of them would involve an 8-10 mile drive, and how often is one going to do that when you have a high quality independent supermarket two miles away and on your way home from work?

                    We do have lots of farmers' markets, though, and I'm not sure how common that is, internationally.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bada Bing

                      When I was in South Africa, our driver proudly pointed out all the farm stands in the villages. We decided not to tell him it was common here (in VA) too :)

                    2. Yes, very much so. I have lived in seven states in five regions of the US, and have seen them, and bakeries, all over. Dedicated butchers are the ones that are starting to get scarce.

                      Here in the NYC suburbs, every town has at least one fish monger (fish shop), bakery, produce market (greengrocer), and bakery, sometimes more than one, even in small villages. They all usually have a butcher as well, but the neighborhood/lower end/family run butchers are disappearing, but the high end ones are doing well. Also Italian Deli's usually have a butcher section, and there are plenty of Italian deli's, but not in every town. The German deli's/butchers were prevalent, but around 15-20 years ago they started to close down.

                      You also have "farmers markets" which have all of the above.

                      1. Billy

                        America is such a large and diverse country that the answer to your question must be "yes, they exist".

                        I don't know the situation in NZ but, I assume from your question, that they are quite common as they are here in the UK. In the UK, you're likely to find a dedicated butcher and a dedicated greengrocer in any small town and most large villages. Fishmongers are much less common these days. Now, assuming that you're asking are similar shops common in Amercian small towns and large villages, I'd suggest that the general answer may be "no". We travel to the States every few years for holidays and mainly spend our time off the regular "foreign tourist route" and you simply don't regularly come across these sort of shops in town and village centres. Of course, I wouldnt claim to have visited every town or village or, indeed, every state - but it's a general observation from one who would be fascinated to visit these types of shops on trips and havtn been able to in 30 years of visiting.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Harters

                          Harters: it has been my observation that these sorts of dedicated shops, for whatever reason, are mostly not at the "center" of an American downtown but instead on the periphery. This is probably due to the prevalence of driving rather than walking in the USA, and the business decision to locate where the rents or property are cheaper.

                          There are many exceptions, however--the occasional bakery in midtown, for example.

                          The OP will probably be interested to know that many towns have buildings (or in warmer climates, open-air) locations with multiple vendors. One might find someone dedicated to fish, another to produce, another to flowers, etc., and they can sustain each other by becoming an alternative to the one-stop shopping appeal of supermarkets.

                          1. re: Bada Bing

                            I'd love to be coming across one of the multiple vendor sites on a future trip. They sound just like a Britiish small town "market hall". Great places to shop, rightly deserving of people's custom.

                            By the by, the village where I live has a population of around 5k. We have a butcher, greengrocer and two bakers. Is that the sort of sized community in America that would be likely to have similar outlets, either in the centre or the periphery?

                            1. re: Harters

                              There's a vague line dividing these multi-vendor places from farmers' markets, where typically many farmers offer their production. In Ann Arbor, MI, there is a great area in which the farmers' market and a building complex are adjacent to each other. Ann Arbor is an exceptional city in this regard, however, with the University of Michigan and various major nearby corporations making it more upscale than the average town. And it has a population over 100K.

                              I've never lived in a town as small as 5K persons, but in utterly unscientific fashion, I can point to the nearby town of Nappanee, IN, which I know has a great butcher shop and a bakery:


                              Of course, that's also an area heavily influenced by the Amish, whom Britons might easier understand as a variety of Puritan Christian. They're very "traditional."

                              I bet that, the further west you go in the USA, the more seldom you see this sort of thing, until you get to the denser population centers on the west coast.

                              1. re: Harters

                                American cities are "inside out" structurally from their European counterparts.

                                For the most part, people live in the centers of European cities and work in the suburbs, so all of these shops exist in the centers of the cities and towns.

                                In most US cities, however, people live in the suburbs and work in the city, so shops are in the suburbs and not in the centers. The centers are left (unfortunately) to empty sidewalks and shuttered storefronts in the evenings, and are frequently food deserts where folks have a hard time finding reasonably-priced healthy food.

                                Note that this does not apply to the largest cities (New York and Chicago come to mind).

                                So no, I'm not surprised that you've not found these things in most of the city or town centers that you've visited...because that's not where they are.

                              2. re: Bada Bing

                                I had an experience in Spain in 1995 looking for food shops (supermarkets, greengrocer's, anything with food really) in the cities of Granada, Seville, and Madrid. Basically, there were none in the centers of those cities, and I was told when asked that all the "hipermercados o supermercados" were on the edges of the city--to which I had trouble getting as I lacked transport. We were quite desperate to find non-restaurant simple food such as fruit or simple bread.

                                1. re: Wawsanham

                                  In Polanco D.F in Mexico, they seem to be on every corner, half of it fresh flowers.

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    Yes, it was quite a bizarre and disappointing experience for me (living in Poland at the time) to be in Spain and to be unable to get fresh fruit or vegetables. We actually had to feed ourselves at 7-11 with cans of tuna and plastic bags of olives. We were low on cash so we could only go to restaurants (even humble ones)every other day.

                            2. I'm currently in Chicago, and we have all three, though many of the fruit markets do have a small selection of meats.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: gordeaux

                                Same here. And the "butcher" where I buy most of my meats (Joseph's) does actually stock a few shelves of canned goods and pasta, as well as a small fridge of dairy products, a small amount of produce, and breads from a local bakery. But no one shops there for such staples unless they are also buying meat.

                              2. I live in a suburb south of Boston and we have all of them

                                1. I'm surprised at how most posters are on the definitive "yes" side of this.

                                  I would say - sort of . . . with a lot of qualifications. First, the US is huge - so in the big cities (NY, SF, LA) yes they still have them.

                                  In medium sized cities they exist but you have to seek them out, they aren't "general neighborhood shops" as the OP asked.

                                  And in MOST of the country they don't exist at all anymore - can you say Walmart . . . and even where they do exist, most of them are nothing like these shops internationally, but at least we still have a few, I wish we had many more!

                                  1. In the nyc suburb we still have all of those. They are good quality but not fancy thats just how we did most shopping growing up. Supermarket were for stuff like cereal and toilet paper. I never understood how uncommon that was until I left nyc. In my neighborhood in qns too we had multiple for different ethnicities. Philly is a bit short on these things but we have a kielbasa store and a couple breweries in the neighborhood.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                      I'm not sure where you get the idea that Philly is "a bit short in these things." There are at least 1/2 dozen butchers, 4 fishmongers and a dozen produce vendors on/around 9th St. - in addition to a pasta shop, 2 spice shops, a tortilleria, a mozzarella shop and more. There are 3 fishmongers and another 1/2 dozen butchers in the Reading Terminal Market. There are produce shops all over town.

                                      1. re: caganer

                                        yes I was typing on my phone and realized I was too curt
                                        should have prefaced with "many neighborhoods" are short on these things - south Philly is great for these services and Center City but many of the old neighborhood retail corridors are decimated - there are a few butchers and produce shops left in where I am in Fishtown/Richmond/Kensington but much of north Philly the closest thing you can buy to a vegetable is a potato chip.

                                        1. re: caganer

                                          OOOH, reading terminal eats, lot of history and good food there.

                                      2. Not nearly as many as in Germany. Most of these have been incorporated into large supermarket chains.

                                        Sad, really.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          Not to mention the demise of the neighborhood bakery! I am not talking about trendy spots with cupcakes, croissants, etc in hip neighborhoods and tourist areas, but the shop where we would buy bread and rolls for packed lunches for school, etc,and maybe a 1/2 pound of butter cookies if you'd been good. There are still bakeries like this in the ethnic neighborhoods of Chicago where I now live but they have been replaced in the suburban Baltimore of my youth by the in-store bakery in the supermarket.

                                          1. re: masha

                                            I live in the middle of Sub-urbia, so my experience obviously doesn't cover "big cities."

                                            Still -- compared to any town in Germany of any size, there are WAY fewer 'specialty' stores.

                                            We're lucky to have a local, old-fashioned dairy here with fantastic milk, and a really, really good bakery.

                                            A butcher? You kid. Maybe outside the town limits.

                                            A fishmonger? Save for the trout & salmon dude at farmers markets? Nope.

                                            Fruit & veggie store? Excuse me while I stop laughing.

                                          2. re: linguafood

                                            Interesting that the neighborhood I loved living in the most in Chicago (Lincoln Square) is an old German neighborhood, and had all the neighborhood specialty shops...butcher, cheese shop, bakery, produce-centric market (not quite a greengrocer but pretty close), even an apothecary. No fishmonger but I think having a decent fishmonger in the middle of the country would be rough. I miss it a lot.

                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                              Yes, I'm sure in the coastal regions you're bound to find more fishmongers. Our option in the midlands of Germany was generally a fishmonger 'chain' -- Nordsee, which had quite decent quality fish.

                                              Berlin's got a bunch of fishmongers, among them many owned by Turks (of course, they're also the largest immigrant group there), and incidentally, a lot of the fruit & veg stores are also owned by Turks.

                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                There used to be a national fishmonger chain in the UK - Mac Fisheries. It closed in 1979 and I suspect our decline in fish eating may be linked to that, as independent fishmongers subsequently also became fewer.

                                          3. Not as many as there used to be: most of the neighborhood butchers, bakers and grocers were gobbled up by supermarkets and centralized processing, although there are a few left. Even those aren't "pure": I know a butcher shop in the heart of Silicon Valley that does a good line of sausages (although I hesitate to ask what's in their Tourist Sausage), but they also carry a few non-meat items, like salads, breads and pickles. Similarly, there's a market nearby that specializes in produce, but also stocks milk, eggs, and cheese. I'm still looking for a good fish place.

                                            1. I live in upstate NY, and there's a fishmonger and a butcher (that sells prime meats - yay) both within a 15 minute drive. The fishmonger shop is fairly new and is doing well enough that a second location (near Saratoga I believe) has recently opened.

                                              Fruits and veggies are available at many of the farmer's markets during growing season. There's a great farmstand nearby and I can't WAIT for it to open.

                                              1. We have a butcher shop in Bloomington, In. they also sell fish. They have a few grocery items that compliment their meat and seafood. They have opened a small restaurant adjacent to the shop.

                                                It seems that this was a paper project by grad students that be came to fruition. It has made a bundle.

                                                We also have a very active Farmer's market in the warm months and a smaller one in winter in an old school building.

                                                1. It depends upon the area.

                                                  As Thimes mentioned, the Walmartization has killed many small businesses in smaller areas. If the area has food producers then there tends to be a small butcher or produce stand which is often seasonal in nature. It really varies by region and town size.

                                                  Homes and kitchens and refrigerators tend to be larger in the states. Without the tradition of daily food shopping the larger supermarket model has become the primary weekly stop for much of the country.

                                                  It is starting to change. With small artisan (for lack of a better word) producers, the rise of organic, local and heirloom varieties people are seeking out items that the supermarkets don't carry.

                                                  Farmers Markets are being revived, CSA's and CSF's are thriving. All of which allow the producers a retail outlet not tied to the expense of a brick & mortar building.

                                                  1. Depends on where you are in the country... we lived in Fort Lauderdale and ten years ago when we moved in there were no dedicated vegetable shops in our neighbourhood - now there are three. And there's an old-fashioned butcher and a dedicated fishmongers, not to mention various specialty delis. We've just moved up to Stuart which is a much smaller town and there don't seem to be any of the above in sight. :(

                                                    PS. You just made me curious enough to do some research (we've only been here a week)... Professor Google says there are three butchers in the immediate neighbourhood. But NO dedicated vegetable shops/greengrocers unless you want to go to the Sunday farmer's market.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Kajikit

                                                      take a look in the neighborhood paper that shows up in your driveway (seems to usually be on Wednesday night) -- that will have local farm stand and you-pick ads. Strawberries are just getting rolling, there's still the last of the citrus, and blueberries and tomatoes will be here soon.

                                                      look at www.pickyourown.org for listings of farm stands and you-picks.

                                                    2. Billy,
                                                      Where are you from?
                                                      We have only had a few guests from overseas, distant cousins from Ireland, and castaways from Russia, both groups were amazed at the amount and variety of food in our supermarkets.
                                                      The Russians had sailed a 34 foot boat across the Atlantic, all they bought in the market were a 5 pound bag of potatoes and a head of cabbage....

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Raffles

                                                        I'm in New Zealand and the reason I ask is that when I read posts on CH there are lots of references to supermarkets and markets but not many people mention the greengrocer, butcher or fish shop.

                                                        1. re: Billy33

                                                          People have a tendency to look to shop in one place vs. driving all over for specialty shops. Hence, the supermarket is where they get everything they need in food items.

                                                          Then again, there are many who don't buy fresh food, beef, or seafood, but buy processed foods and just stick in the microwave to heat up.

                                                          1. re: Billy33

                                                            You don't have to go to a butcher's or a fishmonger's to get the best meat or seafood. While America has all the usual supermarket chains, there are excellent boutique and upscale supermarkets that will have a first rate butcher's counter or fish counter. That's where people are more likely to get their prime meat and seafood, rather than in specialist shops.

                                                            1. re: Billy33

                                                              The US is like everyplace else in the world. I don't know of any countries that don't have specialty markets, be they centralized or scattered throughout the town. The supermarket business here is highly competitive and there are increasingly more varieties of meats, seafood and vegetables that can be found there at a better price and occasionally equal quality.

                                                          2. In big cities there are many specialty shops. In smaller cities and towns, at least where I live in the Midwest, a specialty butcher shop is more likely than a fishmonger. Outside of farmers markets shops devoted to fruits and vegetables exclusively is fairly uncommon. The business model of one stop shopping exists for a reason in the USA. Most people don't like to trek hither and yon to buy one thing at the butcher, another at the baker, something at the fishmonger, produce at the green grocer or cheeses at the cheese makers shop.

                                                            That's not to say that they don't exist but they are more niche like than a place most frequent everyday. For example I live in Chicago. The stores that I frequent and consider specialty butcher shops, for example, all carry more than just meats but they all have a trained and experienced butcher on duty at all times. For me these include Gepperth's, Butcher and Larder, Paulina Market and, with limitations, Publican Quality Meats. All of these places sell "other" things but they are manned by people who know their stuff. They are the people I call when I want, as I did last week, a primal cut of beef brisket (not a flat cut) in order to make corned beef but at Paulina market I can also get the pink salt/curing salt/ Prague powder/sodium nitrate needed to corn the beef for nearly a week

                                                            For seafood the stores that I frequent include Dirk's Fish, The Fish Guy (although I haven't been there in a long time) and Isaacson and Stein but I frequently buy fish at many other places. These places will have or can get within a day's notice the odd seasonal oyster, real Dover sole, fresh sea urchin or whatever you want.

                                                            Exclusive green grocers are probably rarer still. In Chicago we have Stanley's but it is discount fruit and veg that have a VERY short shelf life as in if you buy it today you'd best use it today. Many ethnic shops carry or concentrate on fresh fruit and vegetables including the unusual and rare but they invariably sell "other" stuff to stay in business.

                                                            1. I suppose it depends on where you are...I've never seen one in Utah.

                                                                1. Yes. I live in the Maryland suburbs just NW of Washington DC. There is a butcher shop just across the Maryland/DC line (although they do sell some fresh produce and baked goods as well, it is a butcher shop). I can think of two fishmongers within a 15-minute drive. Of course, in DC, there is also the Maine Avenue Fishmarket. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any greengrocers but we have many farmer's markets (except in the winter), Community-supported Agriculture options, and the better supermarkets sell so much produce from all over the wrold all year long (sigh) that I'm not sure a dedicated greengrocer would necessarily survive.

                                                                  1. When I lived in New Canaan CT, all three plus a cheese shop were on the same block. Life was good there. My fish guy would phone me when he had a fresh tuna or swordfish, that was when I did my self-study sushi/sashimi course.

                                                                    1. Yes. I live in California (a state) and there are many and varied and ethnic of each i.e. Asian markets, carnicecerias, panaderias, etc.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: laliz

                                                                        We are fortunate to have the diversity we have here and the prices where I live are affordable for wonderful food:)

                                                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                          Yes. As one would know if one had read the thread.

                                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                              Yes, I was asking in all seriousness. I've travelled around the US but only to the big cities and not to any suburban areas. I know big, multicultural cities have loads of specialist food places but I sort of pictured the suburbs as relying on big box-type shops.

                                                                              Also, I don't hear many references to going to your local greengrocer etc. on American food programmes so I was curious. Apologies if it seemed like a really obvious question but I found the replies to be really interesting and I've learned lots of things!

                                                                              1. re: Billy33

                                                                                greengrocer is probably the rarest of all of them...as I mentioned in my first post way back when, we *do* buy produce from establishments dedicated to selling produce -- but it's usually an outdoor roadside stand.

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  On my next trip, I'm going to have to look in the "out of town" areas, as you suggested upthead, sunshine. Presumably I need to find the suburban strip mall? I guess borrowing the hotel's "Yellow Pages" (?) is going to be a good way to find places.

                                                                                  By the by, next year's trip is starting to look like FL. Which was our first ever American trip back in 1980. I'm some years past theme parks now :-0

                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                    Florida is sort of different from the rest of the US... I lived there for several years, but can't really explain it except that much of the center of the coastal parts of the state seems like a caricaturization of a generalization of the worst part of US suburbia, and most of the residents seem to be originally from New York and Michigan... The rest of the state is pretty cool, but also very different from the rest of the US, in differing ways.

                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                      you have my email -- drop me notes as the time approaches and I'll be glad to help.

                                                                                      There's a lot of pretty nifty stuff to see and do (and eat!) in Florida away from the parks -- Orlando is no more Florida than Alton Towers is England... :)

                                                                              2. I have butcher right around the corner. They are awesome. They make their own sausages, daisy ham and hot dogs! Also lucky for me they take food stamps.

                                                                                And I live in Schenectady New York which is three hours away from the NYC.

                                                                                1. While we had all these things in the part of Los Angeles I grew up in, my parents mostly shopped at a couple of small general grocery stores and a couple of the bigger chain supermarkets. Only when I got a litle older and lived on my own did I start to explore more of the small specialty food stores in Los Angeles.
                                                                                  When I moved to New York I was roundly mocked by my new friends because I was surprised and amused to discover things like sturgeon shops and knish shops and pork stores (it seemed to me like the old gag about the Scotch Tape Store on SNL). I was especially taken aback that one traffic circle around Pelham Bay Park could support not just one but FOUR pork stores. How one's education continues.....

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                    and I'm willing to bet there is a Scotch Tape Store somewhere in NYC as well...

                                                                                  2. Sure. All three within a few blocks of each other in my Brooklyn NY neighborhood.

                                                                                    1. Some in S. Jersey & more than you can count in Philly.

                                                                                      Everything & anything in NYC.