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Jul 17, 2014 06:08 PM

My imagination, or is Stop&Shop getting good again?

For such a long time I just hated this chain. It represented everything I hated about grocery stores. But I have to say that I've had 6+ months of good experiences here. (The Swampscott location).

The deli section is very good, but pricey. They have a very good pork section. And chicken. And produce. And surprisingly good prices on these. This summer my kids are loving their bakery goods, especially the breads. Haven't bought from the seafood counter yet.

As much as I love MB, It's just not a shopping experience I can deal with on a daily basis. I can park and get in and out of S&S way faster.

My biggest complaint with them is that those self checkout things rarely work, and the lines can get longish. But they seem to be stepping up their game.

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  1. That's a good question I don't know the answer to.
    I will note, however, that improvements have been noted at the much-maligned Shaw's in Porter Sq. of late. Gone are the self checkout lanes - now, only living breathing cashiers and quick responses when the lines get long. And what's that? Classical music over the loudspeakers? And they ditched the rewards card a few months back as well. Someone over there is really using their head!

    14 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      I *thought* there used to be self-checkout lanes.

      I actually prefer them, they're normally faster although it does make me shake my fist when people are being idiots in them.

      I noticed that the Shaws in Twin City Plaza recently converted to a Star Market, which is funny as I thought the Stars were all being converted to Shaws

      1. re: jgg13

        The Waltham Shaw's on Lexington St. just became a Star as well, so maybe they'll all turn over eventually.

        1. re: bear

          The Lexington St./Waltham Shaw's was recently bought and completely re-tooled. It was absolute chaos for a while, but now the store is cleaner, better organized and has all new signage throughout. They also dispensed with self-checkout...this I was angry about, but I think ALOT of theft goes on with these. So, although I miss the speed/convenience, I can understand why they took them out.

        2. re: jgg13

          No, the Stars were all converted to Shawses some years back, but then Shaw's discovered that there was strong local loyalty to the "Star" name/brand (as in, I think there were a lot of Boston-area people who never adopted the name "Shaw's" for the renamed locations) so now they're reverting a lot of those back to Stars.

          1. re: Allstonian

            Right - it was the latter part I wasn't aware of.

            I laughed when I saw all the "Grand Opening" banners in the parking lot - as if it's not all exactly the same people and such.

            1. re: Allstonian

              Yes, they're rebranding their "Upscale" locations as Stars...

          2. re: Bob Dobalina

            Porter Square Shaw's has reverted to being a Star Market. That might explain the changes, although I don't recall classical music there ever!

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              The company that owns Star/Shaws, Supervalu, recently underwent a change in ownership, and the new owners have made a lot of smart decisions that have really improved the stores. My local, the Packards Corner store, has always been notably better than other stores in the chain, but even it's been elevated recently.

              And I'll give another plug to the store-made tortilla chips, which are superb.

              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                Before the Star-to-Shaw's change, the instore bakery produced a luscious apple fritter that was heavy on apple, with minimal-but-crispy dough. Then they switched to a different recipe, more doughy, heavier on cinnamon, like Dunkin's version. Meh. If they ever go back to the apple-ier style, I hope someone posts about it. I'd become a regular customer again.

                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                  After hearing many reports about Star -> Shaws (horrible) -> Star (improved from Shaws), I checked out my local (Waverly Square, Belmont) Star. Yes it is cleaner but the prices are still absurd. $1.99 for a pound of regular (loose, ordinary yellow) onions? Give me a break. It is still worth the time and gasoline to drive to the Burlington MB (or, if I am only looking for produce, Russo's or even Wilson's).

                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

           the Waltham Star yesterday they had individual lemons for (as the signage noted) the "everyday low price" of $0.79 each! I laughed so hard....then hunted around until I found the 10 pack lemons for $4.99!

                    1. re: Science Chick

                      I was very put off by the $1.99/pound onions but it was a cooking emergency with no time to go elsewhere. The bagged onions were $2.49 for 2 pounds - less exorbitant than the loose ones but still ridiculously priced. I gritted my teeth and bought a bag while promising myself that it would be a long, long time before I tried shopping at Shaws again regardless of the name on the sign.

                  2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                    I agree. I still wouldn't call Shaw's a great, or even very good, supermarket, but it has improved over the last year or so.

                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                      I went to the "new" Stars (nee Shaws) in the Twin City Plaza in Cambridge and was pleasantly surprised. Everyone was friendly, they had tons of samples, the produce was plentiful and fresh (I remember at times Shaws in Porter Square would be out of basics like garlic).

                  3. I thought this was about the restaurant :(

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: jgg13

                      Ha! So did I! One more example of why I truly wish folks would think twice about using abbreviations and/or initials. This kind of "shorthand" is not as clear as people think it is.

                      1. re: jgg13

                        Me too and I was very excited at the possibility.

                        1. re: owen_meany

                          Oh wow, I'm so sorry! Is there a way I can edit the title of the OP?

                          1. re: nrthshr

                            Once the 2-hr edit window has passed, report your own post and ask the mods to change the title, explaining why. They are very good about obliging.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              Ayep, what greygarious says is correct. We've edited this one, but you can always Flag these sorts of corrections for us.

                          2. re: owen_meany

                            Me too! I wish the S+S Deli was as good as it use to be!

                        2. OK, I like the rotisserie chickens and the deli at that location, but I can't agree with you on the produce at all - it reminds me of a bodega near my old apartment in Brooklyn. Unfortunately we live squarely in Swampscott and I can't justify driving all the way to Market Basket, which means that I almost inevitably make two stops (one at S&S for cereal and other staples, one at Whole Foods for produce and fish) if I'm doing a big shopping trip.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: cjd260

                            Since you mentioned WF for fish, are you aware of Cape Ann Fresh Catch, the area CSF (fish equivalent of a CSA)? They have several pickup locations in your general area and the fish was swimming usually no more than 24 hours ago, never more than 48. When the CSF
                            began 5 yrs ago, you had to commit to a LOT of fish but through a friend, I learned this spring that you can subscribe to as little as a pound of fillets every other week during an 8-wk "season". I did whole fish, the most economical choice, for the spring season but now do fillets, since my knives and knife skills are not as good as I thought. I just baked some excellent hake, topped with sliced lemon, shallot, and TJ's 21 Seasoning Salute, on a bed of fresh baby spinach and some leftover brown jasmine rice that had been cooked in mushroom broth.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              I'm not much into rotisserie chickens, but they seem to be hugely popular here. I've observed waiting lines on weekday afternoons.

                              For fish and seafood MB is my go-to place. It's always fantastic. The one place where a line is a good thing.

                              But for grocery store beef, pork and chicken S&S has nice cuts, and the prices are competitive with even MB. I don't think these are MB's strong points to begin with.

                              I cook 4-5 dinners at home per week. Very casual, although obviously I'm very into it, if I post here. Here in Mhead I have access to all kinds of markets. I'm just glad to report that this one is back in the rotation!

                              1. re: greygarious

                                Woah - was not aware at all. Thanks for the tip, I'll have to check it out!

                                1. re: cjd260

                                  I'm pretty new to Cape Ann Fresh Catch but everything we've had has been STELLAR. It's definitely converting my kid to a fish lover. One disadvantage is forgetting to do your pickup within the two hour window. You're pretty much out of luck when that happens. They DO let you pick and choose which weeks you want so if you know you'll be out of town, you don't have to pay for fish you'll never be able to get. I really appreciate that flexibility!

                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                    I have the gig distributing the fish at one of the sites, in exchange for which I am given a fillet share. Though not obligated to, I stay an additional 15 minutes to accommodate any late arrivals, as does the friend from whom I learned about the opportunity to do this. She took home someone's missed order and froze it, the customer coming to her house the next day to get it. I considered giving my cell phone number to the subscribers but decided against it. Anyone who was determined enough could call the pick-up venue and ask to speak to me. Sometimes people don't care for the particular variety that day, and decide to forfeit.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      Our share distributor was willing to give me her cell number, so I have it in case it happens again. It boggles my mind that people would just forfeit something they paid for!

                              2. re: cjd260

                                The Marblehead and Salem Farmers markets are great, and Swampscotts isn't too shabby either. For fish I usually drive up to Rowan's in Beverly.

                              3. I thought this was about the S&S deli in Cambridge. You got my hopes up for no reason.

                                1. IMO, it's still robbery but, getting better. I also hate those self check stations, I've never been able to get through without assistance. Even the S&S clerks shake their heads at these self check stations. I still find their deli items and fish to look tired.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: treb

                                    The Brighton self serve checkouts work 75% of the time for me, especially if I use the scanning gun as I walk through the store, and scan out. I see no huge difference in anything at Stop and Shop. I like that Shaw's/Star ditched the reward card, as I have to hit the Brighton Star every once in a while for stuff the S&S doesn't carry any longer.

                                    1. re: treb

                                      The ones in the North Quincy location work about 95% of the time. I rarely have a problem with them, and I find myself wishing all the other grocers in the area would introduce some form of self-checkout.

                                      Stop and Shop is the closest grocer, so I use them a lot for certain staples (yogurt, milk, etc.). While some items are outrageously overpriced (hello, $4 Pretzel Crisps?), they have fairly comparable prices on a lot of items too, and of course you can get good deals with their weekly sales.