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Aug 18, 2014 10:35 AM

Shaw's > Star

The recreation of the Star Market brand in Boston is almost complete.

Over the past few weeks, most of the stores that had been converted to Shaw's and allowed to deteriorate under previous ownership have been refurbished and rebranded. The only remaining Shaw's in the inner city is the one in the Fenway where more extensive (needed) renovation is taking place. (And some city oriented Stars were never converted to Shaw's at all, such as Mt. Auburn St.)

With the change has come a shift to a more upscale mix. Self checkout lines are gone at many stores and the environment spiffed up. All of these modified stores now have beer and wine. What has also changed is prices. Star's prices are higher and sale items at Shaw's may not be available. There are now separate weekly circulars for the two chains and side-by-side comparisons are revealing. (The Shaw's circular is on standard newsprint; the Star is on glossy paper.)

Management apparently believes that those of us living inside Rt. 128 want a more upscale experience and are willing to pay for it. Some of these inner city stores have almost no competition, however, and some low income residents may be at a loss.

So what does everyone think of these changes? I have mixed reactions. While I appreciate the (long overdue) physical store improvements, I'm not sure they are worth the higher prices. And Shaw's was the highest priced local store to start with.

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  1. How can all of the stores carry beer and wine?

    2 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      The one I shop at (N. Waltham/Lexington St) does NOT carry beer/wine

      1. re: C. Hamster

        They don't. The OP is completely wrong. The location on Route 30 (Comm. Ave) in Newton certainly does not sell any beer or wine. They also still (as of last week) had plenty of self checkout lines.

      2. Shaw's and Star have been part of Albertson's LLC for some time. Recently, Shaw's has been noticeably cleaner and updated, they also are on the same page with no more loyalty cards required. As for prices, well let's hope, it's certainly not my first choice for grocery purchases.

        1. The law is that 3 stores can sell alcohol. Are there more than 3 "modified" stores selling booze?

          9 Replies
          1. re: LeoLioness

            The Allston Star, at Packard's Corner, has a small separately operated liquor store within the market, which is the traditional method for getting around the law (which, I believe has been changed - isn't it now 5 stores per chain and being gradually expanded in future years?)

            Also, the self check lines have NOT been eliminated at that location, and I hope they never are. I prefer self-checkout whenever possible.

            1. re: Allstonian

              Oh, I thought the law went from 2 to 3, but I could be wrong.

              Interesting that the store-within-a-store is exempt. I was in the Twin City Plaza Star/Shaws and they had one of those, where you pay for booze separately "inside" the store.

              1. re: LeoLioness

                Allstonian is correct, it's now 5 per chain, increasing a few a year for 2-3 years. Don't remember what the final maximum will be.

                1. re: kimfair1

                  Thanks! I voted against that law the last time it was on the ballot (because I fear it will put all the supermarket-adjacent liquor stores out of business) so I haven't paid close attention to the current laws.

                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    Not to get off topic and to each his own (that's certainly the point of a democracy) but it seems awfully shortsighted to have voted against the law simply because you feared supermarkets would put some nearby package stores out of business. What about supermarkets selling seafood, how is that fair to the fish monger around the corner? Or the supermarket meat department taking business away from the nearby butcher. Or the supermarket selling toys like your local, mom and pop, main street toy store? etc. It always annoyed me to no end that I cannot pick up a bottle of red wine with my steak like you can in nearly every other place in the country. Just because something has been a certain way for a long time, doesn't make it the best way. /end rant.

                    1. re: Gordough

                      If there was a fish monger or toy store or butcher next to virtually every supermarket in MA, I might think differently about how I shop. But that's not the case. How many "main street you stores" can you name? How many boutique butchers are there in greater Boston?

                      Supermarkets aren't going out of business for lack of alcohol sales. But those small businesses sure will and I'd rather not see that, no matter how wildly inconvenient it is to walk next door to the market.

                      1. re: LeoLioness

                        There is a liquor store next to every supermarket? That is news to me. In my town and in the contiguous towns there are at least 8 grocery stores. Only one that I can think of has a liquor store "next door" or within reasonable walking distance (say 5-10 min or less).

                        and yes, my town has 2 full service supermarkets and at least 2 mom and pop toy stores along with dozens of other "main street stores" many of which sell items available in the supermarkets in town, some in adjacent/immediate vicinity store fronts too.

                        1. re: Gordough

                          Where I live there is, hence I voted as I did.

              2. re: Allstonian

                I researched that a bit and apparently the maximum allowable by law went from three to five a few years ago, and is scheduled to expand to seven in 2016, and nine in 2020.

            2. Experience from the Waltham/Lexington street store
              Mixed feelings:
              1) Self-checkout: I was initially really upset that they took this out, as I usually just get a few things and want to breeze on out of there. But, in all fairness, they have setup extra express lanes and always have extra people working them quickly. So it hasn't been that annoying. My husband pointed out that alot of stores get ripped off quite a bit via the self-checkout, so I can understand the owners not wanting them

              2) Pricing: It's a mixed bag. For fresh fish, they have some of the best prices around and the quality on many of the varieties is excellent. I usually only purchase organic produce, and their prices are pretty competitive for that, compared to WF and Wegman's.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Science Chick

                During a recent visit to the Prudential location I stood in line for about 10 minutes at an "express" checkout line to buy ONE lemon. Despite the "15 items or less signage" everyone in line in front of me had full carts and the cashier didn't care to enforce it. One more reason not to shop there.

                1. re: jules127

                  I'd shun them for putting up a sign that read "15 Items or Less".

                  1. re: jules127

                    The only time I've ever seen a cashier reject a customer it took even more time to argue than if they'd just shrug their shoulders, which since cashiers are timed I'm sure they just don't bother.

                    In my younger years when I worked at shows the cashiers would always complain about ppl who would bring on 93 cans of cat food and claim it as 1 item

                    1. re: jgg13

                      I believe the objection was grammatical. It should be "or fewer".

                      I was told by a supermarket manager that when there are multiples of the same item, the total qualifies as one item. 93 cans of the same flavor = one item. 20 cans of "mariner's meow" and the 15 cans of "poultry purr" = 2 items.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        That was *not* the case when I worked at Shaws in the early 90s. At least it wasn't supposed to be, but as I said so many people would be adamant that it should count that way that they tended to let them through.

                        1. re: jgg13

                          At some stores, they can punch in the number of replicate items, such as cans of tuna for example, and then just scan one of them. Hence, the "one item" logic behind multiples of the same.

                          1. re: Science Chick

                            The problem with that is they still need to count them. No matter how you look at it, having 92 cans of cat food *is* slower than a single can.

                            Express lanes should be for people with simple orders. 92 cans of cat food is not a simple order.

                            1. re: jgg13

                              I can see both sides of that argument, but I'm wondering what you'd say about someone who has half a dozen oranges in a produce bag. Is that six items or one? What if they're not in a bag?

                              1. re: BobB

                                depends on if the items are charged per item or per weight. The moment the cashier needs to either a) scan multiple items or b) count how many are in there it counts as multiple items.

                2. No big changes in the suburbs. The Melrose Shaw's has moved products around ( no idea why!-maybe to make the shoppers go up/down every aisle and spend more money!). Still have self check registers, and no beer/wine sales.