Rating the Best Supermarket Chains in Massachusetts
Market Basket, Bellingham location.
by Eric Hurwitz. Updated 12/18/16.
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Going to the supermarket can be as annoying as the
donkey in Shrek. Running kids, frantic adults, clueless people standing
in the middle of the aisles with their shopping carts, cell phone
addicts spilling out their meaningless life stories in front of
everybody, and checkout people with odd body piercings and perspectives
on life can make for a stressful time.
Fortunately, the local grocery stores have really stepped it up in the
past several years (save the behavior of a few select customers),
open indoor spaces, pleasing aesthetics, a better variety of food, and
hiring people that most likely don't have police records. This upgrade
can take away from some of the annoying "givens" in a market, and
ultimately make for a more pleasant supermarket shopping experience.
All major chain markets have some exceptional to offer, so you will not
find any overall negative ratings here. Let's go shopping right
now at some Massachusetts-based supermarket chains...
Editor's Top Pick -- Best known for its rock bottom
prices, Market Basket has also greatly improved its inventory over the
past several years by adding more top quality name brands as well as
organic products. We have also found the hired help to be quite
friendly and helpful. For many, Market Basket is a savior as the
chance to save significantly on weekly groceries is significant
compared to other local grocery stores. This writer finds it easy to
save $45 every week on groceries when compared to another well-known
budget-friendly supermarket in the area. Sales will vary week to week
but to give you an idea, I have bought two jars of Teddie Peanut Butter
for a total of $6.00, 12 cheese sticks for $4.99, organic spcies for
$3.99 (compared to $5.99 elsewhere), a pound of "real" turkey (not the
slimy kind) for $6.99 a pound (typical to find it at more than $9.00 at
other markets) and organic pizza dough for $1.29. It's great to
Roche Brothers -- Roche
Brothers offers a clean, attractive
layout, highly-sought after quality specialty name brands and by far,
the best hired help of any of the supermarkets. They almost always
offer a pleasant hello and smile and even offer to take your groceries
to the car -- without being patronizing. They are truly nice
people! Roche Brothers offers a great variety of Stonewall Kitchen
products, locally-made and delicious When Pigs Fly and Nashoba
Bakery breads, New York City style Finnagle a Bagel bagels and fresh
Foley Brothers seafood, to name a few. It's really a pleasure
finding these hard-to-find supermarket grocery products and being
treated nicely. There's also enough organic foods (particulary in
the produce area) to construct a healthy eating week.
Big Y -- Big Y has the
best produce, fish and meat sections (no
signs of mold at all in the produce isle), as well as the most
attractive supermarket layout. In the Walpole supermarket
location, for example, a beautiful tile floor and non-intrusive
lighting make the beginning of the journey enjoyable (wonderful bread,
deli, seafood and takeout areas). There's even a moderate-sized
dining area and free child care. Big Y was a little slow to pick
up on the organic foods, but has added quite a few items, as of
late. The meats are absolutely tops -- we recently had a t-bone
steak that was more tender than most fine restaurants. Big Y also has
neat gimmicks, like at the checkout counter where you can play a fake
slot machine to win discounts on your food.
Hannaford -- Next to
Market Basket, Hannaford has some of the
best grocery prices around, as well as more organic food choices than
the competitors. They even have health food store quality
supplements like Rainbow Light, Twinlab, Spectrum and Kyolic. There's a
terrific raw and roasted nuts/granola/trail mix bin area. Another plus
is Hannaford is well stocked, so you'll usually be able to leave
satisfied. The help is generally nice and professional and the overall
look -- while not quite up to Roche Brothers and Big Y -- is well
beyond the appearance of some pretty outdated chains outside the New
England region (we were recently in Florida and felt trapped in the
1960s at a grocery chain). We generally save $25.00 a week
shopping comparted to other markets (exluding the aforementioned Market
Basket, which is in a budget-friendly class of its own).
Stop and Shop -- Stop and Shop
is a New England supermarket tradition.
The chain seems to be well in tune with community involvement and the
newer stores have a shopper-friendly layout that can not be explained
in writing, but only experienced in person. That said, Stop and
Shop, at least in our region, needs to be better stocked. Its
pricing seems to be a bit higher than Hannaford's (evidenced by our
receipts), but has recently come on strong on reducing prices on more
items. Its Nature's Promise organic/natural
foods brand is tremendous and includes deli meats (with no nitrates),
regular meats including hot dogs, breads, condiments and dairy. The
Nature's Promise Brand is enough to attract us to shopping here, as
healthy eating is a priority in our home. While not quite up to the
organic foods at Whole Foods Market, the growing Nature's Promise
product line is the next best thing.
Shaw's -- Shaw's is similar to
Stop and Shop, a long-time New England
supermarket chain that assimilates well into New England
communities. Like Stop and Shop, they're not always well-stocked and
the prices seem a bit higher than Hannaford. On the plus side,
Shaw's has been nicely remodeled and aside from the stocking issue has
many great name-brands and unique items --including organic foods --
to make Shaw's a legitimate place to grocery shop.
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