I’ve never really been into hanging out at the local grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there’s some great things to be said about aisle three, but I usually leave it to my mom to find them out. Grocery shopping can be a pretty tedious task, and I can’t remember the last time anybody got excited about needing to grab extra milk. The store is always filled with different people who usually have the same goal: trying to find something – anything – to eat.
When you’re just trying to get a meal on the plate, it doesn’t make a difference where you buy your local produce, but for some, there’s more to it than just “buying groceries.” Grocery shopping can be an experience, especially when you pay attention to what goes into your body and where it comes from.
I’m no expert when it comes to natural grocery store strategy, but I can see there’s a certain crowd that each store tries to pull in. This is a little different from your local HyVee, who’s just trying to make sure your mom always has enough margarine in the fridge. These natural grocery stores, like Whole Foods and Fresh Market, are there for the people who want a little more than just aisles full of food. Each of these stores brings something different to the “all natural” table and it might be a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into before pushing that cart into the checkout line.
Whole Foods – Where you go when you’re on one of those trendy health kicks
Whole Foods is the kind of place where you can find just about anything and everything. That goes for people as well as products. They’ve got a practically unlimited selection of produce that contains anything from iceberg lettuce to imported belgium endive. With so many regular and organic alternatives, it’s hard to choose which kind of “I can’t believe it’s not milk!” product you want to buy.
The grocery store is complete with a coffee shop, gourmet bakery, cheese table and even a brick oven for in-store pizzas. The calm lighting and naturally open floor plan aims to showcase the wide array of services and products available.This vast interior welcomes all shoppers and entices them with sophisticated display pieces. Whole Foods wants all of their customers to feel like they are in the “first class” of the grocery store world – no matter who you are.
The store is home to all kinds of shoppers who want to feel good about what they put in their biodegradable paper grocery bags. Whether you’re trying to satisfy your needs for humanely grown chia seeds, or you just like pretending you like the taste of granola, Whole Foods will welcome you with open arms – all you need is a fully stocked bank account. The all-natural grass that your beef is being fed with comes at a price. Literally. If you really want the ability to hand make your own “nut-butter” flavor then you better be willing to fork over a few benjamins. But at the end of the day, most shoppers find the variety and sophisticated atmosphere a price they’re willing to pay for and walk out of the sliding glass doors feeling a little bit more “hip and urban” than they did when they walked in.
Trader Joe’s – Giving you a chance to figure this whole “natural” thing out
When you’re looking for the best bang for your all-natural buck, Trader Joe’s is the place to go. TJ’s, as it’s called by its most loyal shoppers, is home to the friendliest of natural grocery prices, while still providing a strong selection of basic grocery products. The folks at Trader Joe’s try to bring natural shopping to the everyday consumer and allow everyone to give “going natural” their best shot.
This is reflected in the stores setup: a typical grocery feel that uses the traditional structure of aisles and refrigerated display drawers. They don’t need fancy display tables or a live piano ensemble to give shoppers the organic and natural food they want. Despite the lack of variety found in other natural groceries, the savvy shopper can still find a small array of unusual items among the other daily produce at Trader Joe’s. This includes their own brand of many different items including alcohol, frozen foods, and canned goods. If you’re into eating seaweed chips or buying haricots verts without busting your bank account, then TJ’s has got you covered.
Fresh Market – When you want to pretend that you’re on the Food Network
Fresh Market will appeal to anyone who subscribes to Fine Cooking Magazine and likes pretending they know how to cook. Any wannabe chef will appreciate the high quality ingredients and welcoming atmosphere. If you think you’re ready to challenge Iron Chef Bobby Flay, then Fresh Market is going to be your second home.
This classy store brings the market experience indoors by creating a comforting and refined atmosphere that reminds shoppers what grocery shopping should be about. They use friendly and well-furnished displays and a setup that avoids aisles almost completely. Fresh Market puts an emphasis on the products they sell and the quality they serve. The boutique style of the store uses intimate scenery and furniture that is aimed at “transporting” their customers somewhere else. The store tries to provide a humble and familiar setting that you might find at your local farmer’s market.
A mediocre array of produce and overall variety shouldn’t be a problem seeing that almost all of the items are top condition. The crew up at Fresh Market knows that quality always trumps quantity. The fresh produce section contains several different items and also covers all of the usual bases. Right next to your favorite fuji apple is probably where they keep the satsuma tangerines.
The fresh bakery has both handmade breads and made-to-order pastries. The store also has a deli that has pre-made meals and dinners, for when you’re feeling too lazy to turn on your automatic oven. The Fresh Market staff bring fresh and natural ingredients to shoppers for a somewhat expensive, but relatively affordable price range. Most importantly though, they want to show shoppers an elegant way to shop naturally without taking a trip down to the Riverside Market.