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Area Grocery Stores

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Bad: Picking up a package of Whole Foods premade meatballs to make a quick dinner for the kids and getting them home to find the supposed fresh meatballs are turned. Bleah. They well within the "sell by" date. Ordinarily they would go straight back to the store, but it was 5:30, I had already dragged both kids to the store once and wasn't going to do it twice in one day. Into the trash.

Also bad: Food Lion. Nothing specific, just Food Lion. The one near my house seems to be managed by Carny rejects.

Good: fish guys at Gaithersburg Whole Foods who are as nice as can be.

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Good -- some of the deals to be had on produce at Snider's, as well as their pickles and sausage. Plus I just like supporting the independent guy (within reason).

TJ's for tortillas, pistachios, coffee, cereal. Whole Foods butcher counter in SS but $$$

The Safeway on Shady Grove Rd in Rockville where I get my lunch at least twice a week.

Thai Market on Thayer in SS -- source of blindingly hot Thai bird chiles

Bad -- the almost criminal produce prices at Whole Paycheck

Just about all the Safeway's near my house.

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The good: For any of you who shop at Sam's Club - they have a little-known policy (at least the one in Annapolis does) that if any fresh produce or fresh meats are returned for good reason, the customer receives double their money back. It has to be for a quality reason, but quantity doesn't seem to matter - they honored the policy when I returned a bag of potatoes because one was rotten. I told them I didn't expect a double refund, just wanted an exchange, but they gave it to me anyway.

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Also bad: Food Lion. Nothing specific, just Food Lion. The one near my house seems to be managed by Carny rejects.

Oh, jeez...<ROTFLMAO> I thought I was the only one who suspected...

In order to work at Food Lion in Frederick, you need to pathologically freindly, I mean like WAY beyond socially acceptable levels, and you must not have any teeth. You see, the union passed a rule limiting the number of teeth possessed by the non-management staff to not more than 10 collectivley, and since Earl, Earl, and Bubba each have one, and Lisa and Crystal have two each, and Lynnette, the head cashier has three, there's no more room.

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Good: the produce and the people who work in that section at the Whole Foods at Wisconsin and Albemarle. Although they sometimes start off with that deer-in-the-headlights look when you first approach with a question, they subsequently reveal themselves to be not only friendly, but also knowledgable.

Bad: anything supposedly fresh at the Connecticut/Veazy Giant. The way some of the check out employees talk to each other without once acknowledging me the customer except to take the money out of my hand. The long, long lines.

Bad: that I can't escape the Social Safeway without spending <$75, even when I go in "just for one thing."

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It isnt?? :P No wonder mine always tastes a bit "off". :wub:

OK, time to admit a stupid mistake. I buy stuff like cream of tartar and arrowroot and such in bulk at the Yes! Gourmet store just up the street and put it in whatever jars are handy around here. I have long had a jar, which originally contained marinated artichoke hearts, with cream of tartar labelled with masking tape. Fast Forward: the masking tape has long since fallen off and I went to turn a pint of blueberries into a sauce for ice cream. Yes, you guessed it: I thought the jar contained arrowroot and wondered why the stuff wasn't thickening at all. (Where's the emoticon for a DOPE SLAP?). Since it didn't taste of anything particularly odd, I just added some diluted arrowroot, once I realized my mistake. Coulda been worse. Also coulda tasted "fresher." We didn't die eating it and Craig didn't complain (although he may have considered it if he knew what I had done to those nice blueberries he brought home.)

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A trip out to Han Ah Reum yesterday (Aug. 24) proved to be a major bummer. A half gallon of skim milk, pull-dated September 3 was completely curdled when opened last night. Early this evening, I went to prepare six fresh duck legs, pull-dated August 29, and they were off. A twenty-minute bath in acidulated water did not remedy the problem. I carry a cooler with blue ice in my car for summer shopping trips, so it was not me. Drive all the way out to Merrifield from DC to confront them with their rotten duck for a $12 refund, or fuggedaboutit? Factoring in time and the cost of gas, I decided on the latter. My husband wants me never to go there again. Well, the new Great Wall supermarket down the road from HAR looks like it's just about ready to open. Maybe they'll sell fresh duck there... sigh.

Your comment raises a general issue.

I spend lots of time in Asian, Latino, African, etc stores. IMO it is always wise to exercise extra caution in any of the local "ethnic" markets. There are tremendous buys to be had, but also perils, especially obviously with perishables and even, it appears, with packaged, pull-dated items.

I think the employees/managers in these places often perhaps are newly-arrived and are still accustomed to the way things are done in the old country. If you've ever toured markets in these places (I'm a market freak and love those places) you may know what I mean. Big corporations like Giant and WF know about strong food handling codes, and litigation, and have a different corporate culture--they don't (as an example) leave milk out of the chiller for very long, whether it be in the trucks, the distribution center, or the store. Of course you pay for all that infrastructure. Han Ah Reum has less infrastructure and, let's face it, less employee training, not to mention less "sanitation culture"--one walk through the store makes that clear. Grand Mart is even worse IMO. In all these and other such stores you pay less, but when buying fresh items especially you need to be extra careful.

As the last of the cheapo bargain-hunters I'm an enthusiastic HAR shopper. I avoid GM generally, tho some have said some of their stores are OK.

I would add that HAR's Super H Division, which was set up to appeal more to the western shopper, is I think generally much better. My impression is one has a greater liklihood of not having problems there. While it's a long drive for many of us to the local Super H outpost, it's conventiently located near Wegmans Fairfax store, and thus is a great shopping-crawl opportunity.

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Big corporations like Giant and WF know about strong food handling codes, and litigation, and have a different corporate culture--they don't (as an example) leave milk out of the chiller for very long, whether it be in the trucks, the distribution center, or the store.

That's usually true for things like milk and meats (thank goodness, because I'm cheap and love to hit Giant's meat section midweek to grab discounted meat). However, I check pull dates on everything that has pull dates, and have regularly found other expired items in those big corporate supermarkets. The last thing I found was, of all things, Pounce cat treats that were several months past their use-by date. The manager didn't even know cat treats had use-by dates on them.

I shop at HAR's Wheaton branch weekly - I'm wary of the dairy section, but at least I can use my nose to make sure the seafood is fresh.

Attention White Oak Super Fresh: If you have vast amounts of shelf space to fill, why not try this new concept called variety? Does it make sense for a huge supermarket to carry ONE lousy brand of cocoa powder, and only in regular process? Does it make sense that I have to go to our tiny Calverton Giant instead - that's maybe 1/3 the size of your store - in order to get Dutch-process cocoa? Or diet Canada Dry ginger ale in cans? And why don't you carry chicken gizzards on a regular basis? Don't you know I'm addicted to the damn things? And why does your milk go bad so quickly?

Okay, I feel better now.

Edited by perrik

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While you make a good point, johnb, notice the many times people have posted about problems at Whole Foods. Myself, I just purchased last week at WFM, 2 Portofino "salad in the bag" as they were on special 2/$5. Sell by date Aug 28. Opened pkg 1 yesterday, and the lettuce was all wet and slimy. :P Pkg 2 does not look promising, either.

(I even had a cooler with me last Sunday when I purchased the salads, since I was bringing home fresh seafood)

This is not the first time I've had problems at Whole Foods...when will I learn?

Well, I'd be the last one to be out here flacking for Whole Paycheck--I hate those prices, and most everything else about the place drives me crazy too. But you gotta admire their ability to separate fools from their money. Safeway at least pulls their nearly expired meats fairly frequently and puts cents off stickers all over it. That's what I usually look for at the Safeway meat case--sometimes you get a good deal--depends on the whim of the clerk who puts on the stickers.

It's a jungle out there.

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And why don't you carry chicken gizzards on a regular basis? Don't you know I'm addicted to the damn things? And why does your milk go bad so quickly?

Okay, I feel better now.

FYI --

The Langley Park Giant (tucked in behind other stores at the intersection of Flower and Piney Branch) has one of the more, shall we say, eclectic meat selections I've ever seen in a chain supermarket. I'd bet that you can find chicken gizzards there, not to mention some of the biggest pig feet around.

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FYI --

The Langley Park Giant (tucked in behind other stores at the intersection of Flower and Piney Branch) has one of the more, shall we say, eclectic meat selections I've ever seen in a chain supermarket. I'd bet that you can find chicken gizzards there, not to mention some of the biggest pig feet around.

The Giant on 9th Street NW (near...M Street, I think) is similar. Humongous pigs feet as well as the entire Goya product line.

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With our recent move, the Italian Store in Arlington is now our local deli. Bought some ham, soppresata, and proscuitto last night to pack for lunch sandwiches. I chose the proscuitto San Danielle which I've never purchased or eaten before and it was wonderful! Soft, meltingly fatty, great flavor. Awesome paired with a fresh crusty baguette from Banh Mi So 1 in Eden Center.

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The other noteworty thing I found for the first time at Costco yesterday was Genova tuna in olive oil--the same brand they sell at Trader Joe's.

Never had the Genova tuna. How does Genova compare to Ortiz spanish tuna? Any idea?

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Seen this morning at Bethesda Balduccis: employee picking up an item of produce from the floor and carefully placing it back in the display, right in front of me. Yes, I wash everything when I get home, but come on. At least don't do that in front of the customer.

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it is deep rooted. but apparently i care about the store getting the prices right considerably more than the store does.

For certain, I know that both Giant and Harris Teeter will give you the item for free if it rings up incorrectly. Every couple of weeks seems rather infrequent for a person to come into WF to correct prices given that the regular supermarkets seem to have handheld scanners so that they can change it on the spot.

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My local Food Lion has stopped carrying Dukes mayonnaise in any size. :) Don't know where I'm going to get it now. That was the only thing FL was good for.

Edited by Heather

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I think Harris Teeter carries it, and HT's on my way home from the dentist (yecch) so I'll check.

I saw Duke's mayo at the HT at Pentagon Row yesterday afternoon, on sale no less.

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Once at the Balducci's in Old Town, I was buying a tin of cocoa nibs. The tin had a price sticker on them, and there had been other tins on the shelf with the same price. At the cashier, the tin's UPC code rang up at a higher price, like one or two more dollars. I pointed out the discrepancy to the cashier and pointed at the price sticker, and her response was to start peeling the sticker off the tin! I took the tin from her and went to find a manager. I found someone (not sure if it was a manager) and explained the situation and that this tin and others had this lower price sticker. The person explained to the cashier that she had to charge me the price on the sticker. :)

Edited by cheezepowder

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Giant, I am happy--well, not happy, but whatever--to know that I just don't have rotten luck that this keeps happening to me. Do you remember when the P Street WF first opened? Once, when I got home, I discovered that the bagger had left out a loaf of bread. I called to check on it, and the manager said, "Yes, I'm so glad you called! We have it right here. Do you live nearby? May I send a young man to your apartment to give it to you?"

Wow! What service! What consideration!

Now, I come home to find not only my bread missing, but double and triple charged for some things. Last time, it totaled about $7. I called and they told me I had to come back that night. "No because I'm miles away, I have no car, and it's 8 at night. I'll come tomorrow."

The next day, the woman takes my reciept and refunds my double cole slaw, my double chicken, my double tuna... Wait. I actually bought three cans of tuna. "I thought you said you wanted a refund," she accuses. Sigh.

In the end, she accidentally RE-charged it all to my credit card TWICE, removed it three times, and then pulled me out of the checkout line 15 minutes later because she'd neglected to get my name and address.

What a difference five years makes.

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Giant, I am happy--well, not happy, but whatever--to know that I just don't have rotten luck that this keeps happening to me. Do you remember when the P Street WF first opened? Once, when I got home, I discovered that the bagger had left out a loaf of bread. I called to check on it, and the manager said, "Yes, I'm so glad you called! We have it right here. Do you live nearby? May I send a young man to your apartment to give it to you?"

Wow! What service! What consideration!

Now, I come home to find not only my bread missing, but double and triple charged for some things. Last time, it totaled about $7. I called and they told me I had to come back that night. "No because I'm miles away, I have no car, and it's 8 at night. I'll come tomorrow."

The next day, the woman takes my reciept and refunds my double cole slaw, my double chicken, my double tuna... Wait. I actually bought three cans of tuna. "I thought you said you wanted a refund," she accuses. Sigh.

In the end, she accidentally RE-charged it all to my credit card TWICE, removed it three times, and then pulled me out of the checkout line 15 minutes later because she'd neglected to get my name and address.

What a difference five years makes.

this sounds worse than anything that has happened to me. last night, the bagger did neglect to include a big hunk of chocolate i had purchased, but word got around that i was standing at the customer service counter waiting to speak to the manager, so he was able to locate me before i had left the store. i felt that he was on my side. anyway, tonight i am going to try the upper georgetown branch, which is actually closer to home but not convenient to work. i need some time before i return to p street.

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While we're piling on, let me chime in with my frustrations with Wegman's in Sterling. Lately it seems that I can't go to the store looking for more than five items without not beign able to find one.

And I'm not talking about obscure items. Italian parsley. Leeks. Ham hocks. Diet Sprite.

C'mon. This place takes up half the land in Loudoun County and sells ten types of fresh mushrooms. Can't I get some parsley?

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C'mon.  This place takes up half the land in Loudoun County and sells ten types of fresh mushrooms.  Can't I get some parsley?

Italian flat-leaf parsley? I know they carry it (having bought it there previously, and fairly recently), so they may have just been out.

Most of the time when I can't find things there, though, it's because they've gotten clever with shifting items around, or locating them in really odd places. I don't expect them to necessarily copy Giant's floor plan, but I can tell you most stores don't locate tomato products halfway across the store from the other canned vegetal matter.

Edited by Principia

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Italian flat-leaf parsley? I know they carry it (having bought it there previously, and fairly recently), so they may have just been out.

I know - I've bought it there dozens of times. In fact they ususally carry all of those items. They were out of the parsley on at least two different occasions in the last month during prime shopping hours. They just fill in the space with more cilantro or spinach.

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They just fill in the space with more cilantro or spinach.

Yeah, and then your SO comes back from the store with cilantro, unable to discern the difference between cilantro and flat leaf parsley. :) You decide to start looking at a different set of cookbooks, because cilantro will never work with what you had planned! :o

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