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Apr 29, 2014 12:18 PM

aj's vs whole foods

My husband and I are looking to move to the phoenix area from flagstaff next year. Ive been doing some research and discovered aj's fine foods. I was just wondering how it compares to whole foods.In terms of selection, prices, and customer service how do they compare?

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  1. Both have stores not far from us and we occasionally shop at each, though Fry's is our 'norm'. You should probably just try each of them and see which you prefer. My impression is that AJ's has higher prices and is a bit more upscale, and for some things offers a wider selection, but WF has wider selections in other things.

    One thing that really disappointed me about AJ's is that they were caught ripping off customers by upgrading meats a couple of years ago and had to pay a fine. To quote from the article:

    "Meat-department managers sold steaks for $10 more per pound by mislabeling the grade of “choice” tenderloin as “prime.” Employees also added trimmings from other meat products to Kobe ground beef, so customers weren’t always getting pure ground beef."

    This was very disappointing since Eddie Basha has always been viewed as an upstanding, honest businessman. Once management found out about it they cooperated with the investigation but it was still disappointing. "The USDA found AJ’s stores sold about 17,636 pounds of mislabeled “prime” tenderloin steaks and 139,861 pounds of mislabeled “Kobe” ground beef" or find many more links by searching "basha's phoenix wagyu fine"

    1. Each store has a different emphasis. AJ's is an upscale grocery. It has a lot of specialty and premium items, including an extensive wine selection and a dedicated cheese counter. Some organic and natural foods are sold there, but that's not the primary emphasis in the way it is at Whole Foods. The one thing the two stores have in common is high prices. Whole Foods partially mitigates that with its 365 Everday Value line; AJ's generally does not sell store label or generic items. I use both only for occasional purchases, relying on Trader Joe's, Fresh and Easy, and local farmers markets for the bulk of our food purchases.

      1 Reply
      1. re: exit2lef

        Thank you for your reply. It is very helpful. Up in flagstaff we don't have a lot of options for good quality food. I found two good quality stores and didn't think about all the food options that a bigger city has.Thank you for opening my eyes exit2lef.

      2. I have frequented both stores and I've found that overall, Whole Foods dominates AJs in almost every category. Interestingly and despite the pricing issues in the meat department, meat is one area where AJs may be superior in quality and price/value if you are not totally set on 100% organic. However, for everything else, I prefer whole foods.

        I agree with the post below that AJs is a specialty store, but for the most part, nothing is all that special. The only item I like at ajs that I cannot get anywhere else is honeycup mustard. Other than that, I am a whole foods guy. The sushi and prepared foods as well as salad bar are not even close. whole foods kills them in that category.

        1 Reply
        1. re: danieli10

          agree. WHole Foods for prepared foods and fish, organics and special-diet. AJ's for meat and wine, and a slightly smaller selection of slightly better produce. WHole Foods LOOKS like it has far more, but what it really has are much larger bins of each. Also AJs for flowers, gift baskets, and hostess gifts.

          And, SPROUTS , the WHole Foods wannabe, is also in the Phoenix food market market.