Local and organic meant little to these consumers - The Packer

Local and organic meant little to these consumers

08/15/2014 09:41:00 AM
Pamela Riemenschneider

Bob Sheppard, a former Dominick’s employee who also is in store operations for Mariano’s, said the store was one of Dominick’s strongest performers.

We also stopped at a recently-opened Shop & Save Market in Downers Grove. This location opened last year before the Dominick’s departure, but the Chicago-based chain also picked up some new locations thanks to the sale, said produce buyer Patrick Morales, who met us for the tour.

Shop & Save presents a very different environment than Mariano’s, with each of its stores strongly focused on the ethnic populations in surrounding communities.

The retailer focuses on price and a wide range of offerings for the different demographics for each community.

The Downers Grove store offered a lot of Polish foods, with much of its signage dual language Polish and English.

One thing these stores had in common would appeal to our panelists, however. They both featured very reasonable prices. Mariano’s, for example, offered bananas for 39 cents a pound and kale for $1 a pound. Shop & Save had a special on seedless watermelons, an amazing $1.49 each, and grapes for 99 cents a pound.

We wrapped up with a stop at Strube Celery & Vegetable on the Chicago International Produce Market and a tour through the facility guided by Lisa Strube, director of finance and administration, and a lunchtime stop at Eataly.

With its high end foodie-focused selection, I don’t think Eataly would be a regular shop for our price-conscious panelists, either.


What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.

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Jim DiMenna    
kingsville, Ontario  |  August, 18, 2014 at 02:29 PM

Nice article and thanks for the understanding. As we are all aware Local and Organics has a place in the market and in the shopping baskets of consumers. price and appearance are also a large part of a shoppers purchases. conventionally grown produce items will meet the needs of customers as well. We need to continue to offer the best quality and the best price from where ever we produce. The customers will support flavor, quality and appearance as often as they can I'm sure.

Chris Twitter: Freshguru    
Vancouver, BC  |  August, 18, 2014 at 03:19 PM

Chicago does have a very vibrant food scene.In Canada I thought buying conventional bananas at 99 cents and organic at $1.09 was good value (give or take 20 cents either way)! Would I buy more bananas at the .39 price point? No. Maybe one of the challenges is the fluctuations one sees in fresh produce pricing and the constant downward push on pricing presented by retailers. I do see the retailers in Canada climbing on board with local and with organics but also supporting imports. We need the shopper to feel that buying fresh produce equals good health, great taste, extra energy and good value for dollars spent on conventional, local and/or organic. Nice piece Pamela.

Randall Raokman    
Downers Grove, IL  |  September, 12, 2014 at 01:12 PM

The Mariano's that was rushed into operations was the one in Western Springs I assume. It looks it. It looks like a slap-dash coat of paint was put on and then the doors got opened. As a former shopper of that Dominicks I was seriously disappointed by what re-appeared. The Roundy's product offered by Mariano's is of an obviously lower quality than Dominicks had been carrying, and Roundys doesn't seem to be into low-calorie or helping diabetics with sugar-free and low-fat items; it all seems blue collar full-fat and high-calorie oversized items. Not impressed. Bring back Dominicks, or at least do a better remodeling job to help us buy into the high-priced low-end product selections. As for product, I too buy based on price. But there is simply just so much produce I can buy, and it doesn't store well. So, if the pricing seems ok when I'm actually in the store, I'll buy some, but I don't make special trips or stock up. I may freeze a few pints of blueberries, but that's the extent of it. Produce is a special product category.

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