Area Supermarkets

One of the biggest happenings this past summer in the Capital Region was, believe it or not, the Grand Opening of a new supermarket. That’s right; everyone turned out in Latham on August 18th to find out what The Fresh Market was all about. I know because I was there, too! Apparently the managers were stunned at the numbers of folks lined up that Wednesday; they had never seen anything like it before. (Little did they know that the same thing occurred when Wal-Mart and Krispy Kreme came to town.) Hmmm, what does that say about our area? In this case, I suppose our community was thankful that a beautifully landscaped gourmet food market had finally come to a half-abandoned industrial plot right at the intersection of Routes 9 and 155.

Anyway, the medium-sized supermarket is well-laid out and attractive, but the prices are ridiculously marked up. Just the week before at my usual grocery store I had purchased an identical two-pound bag of mussels in the same blue netting for $2.00 less. A small can of chipotles in adobo sauce was 70 cents higher at the new store! But, on the bright side, you can get things at The Fresh Market that are hard to come by anywhere else: lamb shanks, for example, as well as frisée lettuce, harissa sauce, small imported olives, and fresh croissants. One time recently, we were buying fish and noticed lovely slices of smoked salmon which were delicious on bagels the next morning. There are also some pretty tasty barbecued spare ribs in their prepared food section. Since it’s only minutes from our house and because we don’t want that piece of land to revert to what it was before, we’ll continue to patronize the place at least for specialty items.

Normally I go to Price Chopper. It’s a decent grocery store with good prices (as their name says!) and I think that having The Fresh Market as competition has actually forced them to up their game. All of a sudden I see things like ground lamb in the meat cooler and crème fraîche at the cheese counter. The other big thing that Price Chopper has going for it is the 10 cents off a gallon of gas patrons get for every $50 they spend, a real draw in these times, of course. In fact, I’m surprised the gas deal hasn’t driven its other big competitor, Hannaford, out of business around here.

The other new market in town is Pioneer, otherwise known as the Troy Food Co-op. After years of waiting, we members were so happy a few weeks ago when the store finally opened. It is nicely laid out with large aisles. We’ve been especially impressed with their local meats, like pork chops, which have no hormones. Pioneer also has a cheese counter that was supposed to rival Albany’s Honest Weight Food Co-op, but it has a long way to go in that department. There are some good local cheeses, but very few offerings from abroad. Cashiers told us to use the “suggestion box” to get the managers to order what we’re looking for. So, we’ll see what comes of that…

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