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QUOTE(Mrs. B @ May 26 2006, 08:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

P.S. Fava's not so good. Keeping fingerst crossed for Dupont on Sunday.

I found some beautiful favas for $1.99 a pound at Magruder's in Vienna today.

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For the record: This was a mere rumor, probably based on the fact that Balducci's pulled out of plans for a store on 7th.

I just got off the phone with someone at Balducci's who is fairly new and formerly of Whole Foods. They're expanding, she claims.

Did anybody catch the Post Express story last week about grocery stores? (did I miss it up-thread maybe?) Anyway, scroll down to the last comment because it was submitted last Friday by Magruders' VP-COO Gary Bortnick:

We(Magruders Grocery) are very interested in the space on 7th Street. We have improved our ready to go foods over the last few years and we have changed our variety at our small store in Cleveland Park to address our customers needs. For instance adding fresh Gelato, which we produce at the store has been a tremendous hit. Magruders is Washington's oldest grocer.The building at 7th St.has obstacles to overcome but their is not a grocer in the city who could provide the quality produce, meat and ready to go foods that we can sell at low prices.

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Magruder's Mayhem

I went to a Magruder's for the first time tonight - the one sort of on Seminary off 395. Can someone explain to me what the appeal is?

First off, the store was hot and muggy. Nothing says "fresh" like hot and muggy.

The clientele were mostly, how shall I put it - economically disadvantaged. NOT that I have anything against the poor, but generally lower income families will be shopping for cheaper food, and cheaper food generally means lower quality.

The produce was mostly wilted or rotted! I'd NEVER seen anything like it. The weird thing, though, was that I found some of the best off-season asparagus I've ever encountered amid the sad, yellowing flat leaf parsley.

Most of the selection was of the "low-brow" variety. I.e. fake maple syrup instead of real maple syrup. Oddly, though, for every "type" of food, for every 100 varities of crap, there was always one single item that was of superior quality.

The meat was iffy and there was an unsettling amount of discoloration on most of the cuts, although I did find the flat iron steak for $4.59 (which was, after all, the entire reason behind my excursion).

The deli didn't look particularly fresh. The woman working it had the thickest hairnet I've ever seen, and was defintely working the pipes under a salad bar before waiting on me. She looked like the cafeteria lady at a prison for deviant cafeteria workers.

Some of the stuff they had was remarkably esoteric, like veal and beef kidneys. I didn't know there was such a discerning market out there to demand that kind of renal diversity.

It was one of the most surreal grocery buying experiences I've ever had. I don't believe I'll be going back, though. It was too dirty, hot, muggy, uncomfortable, etc.

So what exactly is the Magruder's "catch" or gimmick that makes up for the deficiencies I found? Are all Magruder's like this, or just this particular location?

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Magruder's Mayhem

If you're uncomfortable with the produce at Magruders, are you going to be any more comfortable with the meat? Particularly if you're going there because they've got the lowest price on the cut you're looking for? :unsure:

Have you tried the meat, particularly the hanger steak, from Cheesetique? Different cut, I know. And it needs some proper trimming when you finally cut it from the vacuum pack, but it's only $6.95/lb, IIRC, and it's all organic. Another good meat option is the occasional sale on skirt steak at Whole Foods, which I think clocks in at $5.95/lb. Also organic.

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If you're uncomfortable with the produce at Magruders, are you going to be any more comfortable with the meat? Particularly if you're going there because they've got the lowest price on the cut you're looking for? :unsure:

Have you tried the meat, particularly the hanger steak, from Cheesetique? Different cut, I know. And it needs some proper trimming when you finally cut it from the vacuum pack, but it's only $6.95/lb, IIRC, and it's all organic. Another good meat option is the occasional sale on skirt steak at Whole Foods, which I think clocks in at $5.95/lb. Also organic.

I went to Magruder's because of the location (I'm just on the other side of 395) rather than the price. I would much rather be getting my flat irons from Whole Foods. ;)

Only bad thing about Cheesetique is that it's not exactly one stop shopping.

Although, given only a few months to live, I would gladly generate the rest of my homecooked meals from Cheesetique.

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Magruder's Mayhem

I went to a Magruder's for the first time tonight - the one sort of on Seminary off 395. Can someone explain to me what the appeal is?

I haven't been to that one, but I once walked into a Magruder's--I think it was in Falls Church--and found fresh banana leaves--three of four of them for maybe $2. I'd never seen fresh ones before. Frozen banana leaf is hard enough to find. On subsequent trips, I haven't seen them. But there might be red bell peppers for 99 cents a pound. Okay, you have to dig through the pile to find a few that aren't wrinkled. It's not one of my regular stops, but they occasionally will have amazingly low prices on Fran Keysela Spanish wine, or maybe nothing at all. I agree about the meat, though. Very unappetizing. The one in Vienna is marginally less grungy.

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The produce was mostly wilted or rotted! I'd NEVER seen anything like it. The weird thing, though, was that I found some of the best off-season asparagus I've ever encountered amid the sad, yellowing flat leaf parsley. <snip> Oddly, though, for every "type" of food, for every 100 varities of crap, there was always one single item that was of superior quality.

I believe you've already answered your question.

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I believe you've already answered your question.
So they offer extremely low quality products at a dirt cheap (operative word being DIRT) price, but they'll also toss in an angstrom of premium, top-notch stuff on the off-chance a discerning guy like me might happen to be digging deeply into their selections?

I'm not sure I jive with their business plan.

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Interesting discussion indeed. I shopped at Magruder's this weekend for the first time in a long while - for flat irons also. While I was there, I picked up some MD crabmeat ($8.99 for a lb.), some nice peaches ($.99/lb) and some blueberries ($2/pint). I concur that Magruders could do a better job with the presentation of their produce, but I don't mind hunting for the pearls. Going forward, I'll stop by for sale items and hard-to-find cuts of meat (the flat irons were good, BTW), but that's about it. They don't have a good overall selection, nor do they have great prices on non-sale items, IMO.

The international markets (Super H, Grand Mart, and to a certain extent Shopper's Food Warehouse) seem to be the best fit for me, because I hate paying a high markup for non-specialty products as is often the case at WF, Wegman's, or even Safeway. Speaking of limes, a few weeks ago I was planning to make a key lime pie -- WF had 1 lb bags of key limes (aka Mexican limes) for $3.99. The local latin market had 2lb. bags for $2! Unbelievable. They're probably picked from the same trees. I agree that places like WF are "prettier" and all of the produce is perfectly presented, but IMO their stuff is simply not 3-4x better to justify the price. I don't begrudge them for charging what (apparently) the market will bear, but they won't have me as a customer. On the other hand, I if they can convince people to regularly spend $4-$5 per pound for tomatoes, maybe I should buy some stock... :unsure:

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When I lived near the Foxchase shopping center a few years ago. I would only buy can goods or frozen foods from Mcgruders. That store was just dirty! I think this store is being replaced by a Harris Teeter. Thank God for those how still live in the area. Who cares if they are locally owned, It was an awful place to shop.

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Magruder's Mayhem

I went to a Magruder's for the first time tonight - the one sort of on Seminary off 395. Can someone explain to me what the appeal is? [EDIT]

It was one of the most surreal grocery buying experiences I've ever had. I don't believe I'll be going back, though. It was too dirty, hot, muggy, uncomfortable, etc.

So what exactly is the Magruder's "catch" or gimmick that makes up for the deficiencies I found? Are all Magruder's like this, or just this particular location?

I ventured into the Magruders in Annandale a couple months ago....Yuck! Now, granted none of the big three grocers in Annandale are particularly savory anymore, (although the Safeway seems to have decent produce) like the Giant with the stinky fish counter and the filthy deli, but that Magruders is just gross! Dirty old equipment behind the deli counter, etc. On the plus side, I did notice some unusual brands, but it was more like the same old stuff in different packaging. The highlight of the trip was bagging a drinkable Petite Sirah for $3.99!

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Magruders is quite different from store to store. The one out off of Little River Turnpike is a horribly stocked store that has not had a face lift since Ford Pintos were exploding on our streets, but the new store in Rockville is better stocked and has much better produce and meat, and is definitely a tidier store.

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Magruders is quite different from store to store. The one out off of Little River Turnpike is a horribly stocked store that has not had a face lift since Ford Pintos were exploding on our streets, but the new store in Rockville is better stocked and has much better produce and meat, and is definitely a tidier store.

I stop off at the one in Chevy Chase (DC) quite often for beer and the occasional wine deal. As you could guess from the economic class of the neighborhood, it's much nicer than the ones so far described.

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I shop at the Vienna Magruders all the time. I generally get produce and fruit there, pork products (great prices on butts) and eggs. Most of the other stuff is average price or more than the other markets. Their specials are generally good, but I usually do not care for their red meat. The vegtables are generally 1/2 of what the other markets are, but the fruit is better and banannas are 1/2 of what the others charge. Great Wall may be able to replace Magruders for me in the future, but I find that both stores are less clean than safeway and giant. I hit the major markets for 1/2 price specials. Wegmans and Harris Tweater are not really near me (other than there is a rumor of a HT coming to Tysons).

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Magruders is quite different from store to store. <snip> the new store in Rockville is better stocked and has much better produce and meat, and is definitely a tidier store.
I wonder if part of that isn't because they're new to the space? I thought the one at the old WA St. address in Town Center had the perpetual scent of rotten produce.

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I wonder if part of that isn't because they're new to the space? I thought the one at the old WA St. address in Town Center had the perpetual scent of rotten produce.
I agree that it is most likely more tolerable because it is new. The Town Center location did smell, but usually had a better selection of produce than many of the other super markets in Rockville. That shopping center had one of the worst parking lots I have ever seen.

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Time to change the header as it is now 9 stores. I had a chance to stop in this weekend to check out the newest location in Kemp Mill. I figured Saturday would be a great day to go, since it probably wouldn't be too busy. :blink: The store is well stocked, and the produce looked good. They've added some nice lighting and the store is layed out well, and they even managed to effect some changes to the entire shopping plaza. This was confirmed this evening when I had the chance to hear one of the owners speaking at a community meeting. It was interesting hearing viewpoints from the owners perspective, and it was nice to be reminded that this is a local, family owned chain. I learned that their produce is typically 30% of their sales, which is quite high compared to a Giant or Safeway.

My mom has been a Magruder's shopper for years, and even would shop at the one in Glenmont. I tried to go there a few times, but couldn't stand the filth and disorganization, and was not expecting much when I heard that they would be coming to Kemp Mill. The owner shed some light on that situation, and I believe that the same will not happen to this locale. Plus, the community is too strongly vocal to let them get away with anything if they appear to be slacking off, even for a bit.

For those looking for Kosher foods, I was informed that at opening, they stocked this location with the largest selection of Kosher items they have ever carried. They want to see what will sell, and what will not. So, if you have been looking for a specific item, give them a try. Also, if you're looking for a Kosher turkey for Thanksgiving, they said they'll have both frozen and fresh.

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