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    Post #1 - December 16th, 2007, 1:50 pm
    Post #1 - December 16th, 2007, 1:50 pm Post #1 - December 16th, 2007, 1:50 pm
    The best normal grocery store in Chicago? As in, not a froufy upscale one, not a distinctly ethnic one, one just operating in the all-American Jewel/Dominick's space but doing a much better job than those behemoths?

    Yes, that is what Strack & Van Til is. Let me give you an example. As I walk in, a young black woman is pushing two carts back to the cart corral. I say, can I have one? She smiles, and says sure. Then suddenly she lunges at me-- and grabs the sales flyer a previous customer had left in the cart, so that there won't be trash left in my cart while I shop. Try to imagine the dead-eyed employees at many another grocery store even registering that the trash was there, let alone bestirring themselves.

    There's a real 1950s feel like that to Strack & Van Til even though it makes various accommodations to modernity like the usual boxed baby lettuce mixes and so on. There are a lot of funky old brands tucked into corners which make a visit a Lileksian snicker-fest:

    Image
    Daddy Ray looks like he just took his seventh wife.

    Image

    Image

    Image
    And Jerry Mathers as The Wiener!

    Okay, I kid because I love, but I really do love the incredibly friendly service, the generally good pricing (lots of specials and no preferred card bullshit), and... uh... the lack of crowds. Okay, that one worries me a little. So please, discover my favorite grocery store, go there. We've got a 27-page thread on why people hate Jewelnicks, the answer is right here:

    Strack & Van Til
    2627 N. Elston Ave
    Chicago, IL 60647
    Phone: 773-252-6400
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  • Post #2 - December 16th, 2007, 3:19 pm
    Post #2 - December 16th, 2007, 3:19 pm Post #2 - December 16th, 2007, 3:19 pm
    Phyllis and I love this store too. Prices and selection are very good, and they have really nice outer skirt steaks around $5/lb! Good selection of ethnic/latin stuff as well.
    Lacking fins or tail
    The Gefilte fish
    swims with great difficulty.

    Jewish haiku.
  • Post #3 - December 16th, 2007, 3:29 pm
    Post #3 - December 16th, 2007, 3:29 pm Post #3 - December 16th, 2007, 3:29 pm
    I have been there when it is packed, so it maybe depends on when you go. I agree that it's a better option than Jewelnicks.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
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  • Post #4 - December 16th, 2007, 3:45 pm
    Post #4 - December 16th, 2007, 3:45 pm Post #4 - December 16th, 2007, 3:45 pm
    leek wrote:I have been there when it is packed, so it maybe depends on when you go. I agree that it's a better option than Jewelnicks.

    It's been unpacked the times we were there, which made me feel the same concern as Mike, because there's something very likable about the store.

    Why isn't it our "go-to" store? Hard to explain. If we're in that area for some other reason (Jo Ann Fabrics, MicroCenter, Target), we go and we like it and we say "why don't we come here more often?" But when we're not there, we forget it's there. The Jewel at Ashland and Wellington is probably about seven minutes closer to us, and we're used to it, we know where everything is, and they've never done anything to royally piss us off, and habits are hard to break. I am going to try to be more conscious of S&VT. This thread helps. One nice thing is they have Oberweis milk and ice cream, which Jewel doesn't.
  • Post #5 - December 16th, 2007, 4:03 pm
    Post #5 - December 16th, 2007, 4:03 pm Post #5 - December 16th, 2007, 4:03 pm
    Mike G wrote:The best normal grocery store in Chicago? As in, not a froufy upscale one, not a distinctly ethnic one, one just operating in the all-American Jewel/Dominick's space but doing a much better job than those behemoths?


    Ahem...
    I've said it before and I'll say it again:
    A & G Fresh Market
    5630 W Belmont Ave
    (between Central Ave & Parkside Ave)
    Chicago, IL 60634
    (773) 777-4480
    I love restaurants. You're sitting there and all of a sudden, there's food. It's like magic.
    - Brian Wilson
  • Post #6 - December 16th, 2007, 4:50 pm
    Post #6 - December 16th, 2007, 4:50 pm Post #6 - December 16th, 2007, 4:50 pm
    I like A&G a lot too, and was there right before T-giving to get all my produce cheap, but I would classify it in the ethnic category, as it has lots of Greek, Eastern European and Mexican specialties-- and can be a little spotty on American staples at times. (For instance, after I went to A&G, I swung by Whole Foods to get fresh herbs like rosemary and sage, which they don't have at A&G, even right before Thanksgiving.)

    But when we're not there, we forget it's there.


    That is a problem; the location is pretty much hidden in plain sight, so to speak.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #7 - December 16th, 2007, 5:16 pm
    Post #7 - December 16th, 2007, 5:16 pm Post #7 - December 16th, 2007, 5:16 pm
    http://www.strackandvantil.com/
    Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Spaghetti and Meatballs! (Beauregard Burnside III)
  • Post #8 - December 16th, 2007, 7:09 pm
    Post #8 - December 16th, 2007, 7:09 pm Post #8 - December 16th, 2007, 7:09 pm
    Mike, in my case, you are preaching to the choir. When the Cub Foods that formerly occupied this space shut down (and Cub was not nearly as well-run as S&VT), and when the Jewel at Belmont and Pulaski closed down, I was left with Tony's as my only "white bread American" general grocer; and let's face it, while Tony's does carry a lot of mainstream (non-Mexican) stuff, and has many great things going for it (shall we recount the joys of their roasted chickens?), it is still basically a Mexican-American store. Sometimes a Hoosier boy needs something big, well-run and middle of the road non-hyphenated American. S&VT is all that, and it is now our regular food-shopping destination (with Tony's still part of the rotation). The meats, cheeses and seafood at S&VT are a big step up from Cub Foods' selection (and Jewel/Dominick's). And here's the biggest thing: They have 379 checkout lines (more or less) and they keep at least half of them staffed at all times. I have never had to wait for a cashier. I mean, literally, never had to wait in line at S&VT. Why do Jewels, etc. have 19 checkout lanes if they never intend to have more than three of them staffed? Irksome. The fact that S&VT actually bothers to staff its checkout lanes would alone be enough to keep me going back, even if they weren't so friendly and well-stocked. If I need something they don't have, I will make the necessary special trip elsewhere to obtain it; but I won't waste my time anywhere else on the (many, many) things S&VT does provide.
    JiLS
  • Post #9 - December 16th, 2007, 11:37 pm
    Post #9 - December 16th, 2007, 11:37 pm Post #9 - December 16th, 2007, 11:37 pm
    I've only been there once, but I liked it. Wish it was closer for me. It blows away Jewelnicks.
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #10 - December 17th, 2007, 12:27 am
    Post #10 - December 17th, 2007, 12:27 am Post #10 - December 17th, 2007, 12:27 am
    These days my "normal" grocery stores are Meijer and Shop & Save. Neither of them is exactly normal, since Meijer is the only place I know of where you can fill your complete grocery order (including many international items), and buy auto parts, plumbing supplies, tools, CDs, housewares and shoes, all at 2 in the morning, and Shop & Save is like a regular supermarket with a Polish deli and an international foods market tacked on.

    Both have very good prices compared to Nick-Your-Jewels. I thought Strack & Van Til a bright, clean, well laid-out store, but kind of pricey when I visited.

    Meijer's is a schlep for city folks, but those of you who head out to Niles to shop at H-Mart anyway might want to check out the Niles location of Shop & Save.
  • Post #11 - December 17th, 2007, 5:49 am
    Post #11 - December 17th, 2007, 5:49 am Post #11 - December 17th, 2007, 5:49 am
    If any of you are ever out in the hinterlands, you should give Woodman's a try. They are a Kenosha based small chain of 7 stores with an outlet in Carpentersville on Randall Road and in North Aurora at Orchard and Oak across from the North Aurora Auto Mall at I-88. Think the size of Meijer but all food, a few small aisles to housewares and cosmetics but mostly food. Best is that they carry everything Wisconsin, brats, sausages and 6 cases of cheese. Worst, despite being new, the place looks like a dump. They brag about being "employee owned" so I guess that means neglect but their prices are way way cheaper than Jewel and they have such a huge selection of everything you could want. Unfortunetly they also fall into category of having 30 checkout stands and only 3 open. There is no self check and they do not take credit cards, but you come out having spent way less than anywhere else.
  • Post #12 - December 17th, 2007, 8:03 am
    Post #12 - December 17th, 2007, 8:03 am Post #12 - December 17th, 2007, 8:03 am
    LikestoEatout wrote:There is no self check and they do not take credit cards


    What grocery store doesn't accept credit cards?!
    That alone would prevent me from shopping there.
    I love restaurants. You're sitting there and all of a sudden, there's food. It's like magic.
    - Brian Wilson
  • Post #13 - December 17th, 2007, 8:26 am
    Post #13 - December 17th, 2007, 8:26 am Post #13 - December 17th, 2007, 8:26 am
    johnny wrote:
    LikestoEatout wrote:There is no self check and they do not take credit cards


    What grocery store doesn't accept credit cards?!
    That alone would prevent me from shopping there.


    As I said, they are "employee owned" so they really shave the bottom line. All checks or cash and there is an ATM in the store. Forgot to mention they have a Binny's sized liquor department with a huge selection of beers. It's basically a seperate store with it's own entrance, no credit cards here either.
  • Post #14 - December 17th, 2007, 9:18 am
    Post #14 - December 17th, 2007, 9:18 am Post #14 - December 17th, 2007, 9:18 am
    johnny wrote:
    LikestoEatout wrote:There is no self check and they do not take credit cards


    What grocery store doesn't accept credit cards?!
    That alone would prevent me from shopping there.


    Woodman's does take debit cards. Whenever I'm in Wisconsin I at least stop to pick up some New Glarus or Bell's beer. Costco is another chain that doesn't accept credit cards (except for American Express), but does take debit cards.
    When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!
  • Post #15 - December 17th, 2007, 9:58 am
    Post #15 - December 17th, 2007, 9:58 am Post #15 - December 17th, 2007, 9:58 am
    Woodman's is decidedly odd-- great meat and cheese selection, surprisingly weak bread and produce, and so on-- but I always stop in when I'm near one because I know I'll find some things I'll never see anywhere else. This summer, I picked up some Michigan cherry cider that we all loved.

    Isn't the credit card thing in part because they're employee-owned and sort of co-op like? EDIT: Whoops, I see someone said that above.
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  • Post #16 - December 17th, 2007, 10:22 am
    Post #16 - December 17th, 2007, 10:22 am Post #16 - December 17th, 2007, 10:22 am
    HI,

    I remember once Steve Drucker commenting on credit card fees, especially American Express, are a significant expense in high volume, low margin businesses. He made an interesting statement: they were your default business partner.

    I don't mind paying cash or check at Woodman's if that savings of 1-2% or more is passed onto me. In the northern suburbs, those who are aware of Woodman's use it as their monthly stocking up store.

    The Michigan Cherry cider is almost always available in the produce area. We like it, too. It's funny about the bread section, I have never seen so much variety of bread from so many sources. Most of it is of the Wonder Bread variety, though lots of new-to-me sources! You get a sense in other big box grocery stores there are only a few sources for commercial baking. At Woodman's you meet the little guys, too, who cannot afford to buy shelf space at Jewel or Dominicks. It is all their regional sourcing I like about Woodman's.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #17 - December 17th, 2007, 10:38 am
    Post #17 - December 17th, 2007, 10:38 am Post #17 - December 17th, 2007, 10:38 am
    LikestoEatout wrote:North Aurora at Orchard and Oak across from the North Aurora Auto Mall at I-88.

    So you take the Orchard exit, and it's close by?
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #18 - December 17th, 2007, 10:55 am
    Post #18 - December 17th, 2007, 10:55 am Post #18 - December 17th, 2007, 10:55 am
    It's funny about the bread section, I have never seen so much variety of bread from so many sources. Most of it is of the Wonder Bread variety, though lots of new-to-me sources!


    That's the thing, they have a million kinds... of uninteresting bread.

    Actually, the meat and cheese is like that too, a million kinds of uninteresting, but then some interesting things sprinkled in.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #19 - December 17th, 2007, 11:41 am
    Post #19 - December 17th, 2007, 11:41 am Post #19 - December 17th, 2007, 11:41 am
    My friend shops at the Plainfield Strack and Van Til and sings the praises of their loss leader coupon deals. I've yet to get there. But Woodman's I can't say enough about.

    That's the thing, they have a million kinds... of uninteresting bread.

    HA! I skip the bread area, the fresh meat and the deli section altogether.

    Other than that, Woodman's is a *destination* shopping experience for us, odd as we are. We leisurely wander the liquor department ,exclaiming over the great selection of regional beers (O'Fallon Smoked Porter for being a recent purchase) as well as the shelves of cheap brandy--which we've always figured to be a nod to Wisconsin snowmobilers. While we generally go to the Algonquin or Kenosha stores, we've been been to North Aurora. Classier looking department and sampling on the weekends! (Although Tommy Bahama rum is just weird branding.)

    Then we sprint through the bread and produce areas; although bok choy and other Oriental veggies seem to be a little cheaper than my local stores. A cursory glance at the fresh meat, which I can generally get at a better price at my local Italian owned groceries, and then it's the sausage and cheese department, which is always amazing.

    Up and down the packaged goods aisles for things I usually can't locate anywhere else and better prices for the things I do normally buy. Their frozen food department is huge--with an emphasis on pizza. I'm not a fan of frozen pizza, but my husband likes their prices and is fine with them. LTH purists would probably be aghast at what goes in our cart--Snap-E-Tom juice, Linda McCartney frozen mac and cheese, frozen beef pasties, flavored cheese curds, Kaboom! cereal, Betty Crocker date bar mix. But, it's mainly things my husband, daughter and I have food memories of from childhood.

    They pull the stuff out of the cart for you, are pleasant and never heave gigantic sighs about asking for paper bags instead of plastic..so my using my debit card is fine with me. I think we spent over 100.00 in liquor and equally the same in groceries last week in N Aurora. That's a big deal for us to plunk down in one trip, but it will carry our cravings awhile.

    I prefer the Kenosha store--no sales tax and slightly cheaper liquor, but I recommend any of them.

    Woodman's Store
    7145 120th Avenue
    Kenosha, WI 53142
    (262) 857-3801

    Woodman's Store
    2100 Randall Road
    Carpentersville, IL 60110
    (847) 649-9005
  • Post #20 - December 17th, 2007, 1:18 pm
    Post #20 - December 17th, 2007, 1:18 pm Post #20 - December 17th, 2007, 1:18 pm
    Hi,

    The pasties! There isn't just one vendor or just one kind, there are several vendors with different filling combinations. Woodmans's just orders lots of stuff, then lets the consumer figure out what is best for them

    Just yesterday, I was talking to someone about the Co-Op grocery store in Hyde Park. It was suggested they were talking to Treasure Island. Actually, Strack and Van Til may be a better avenue to explore. There are Strack and Van Til shops just over the Indiana border, so it would not be an orphan to provide for.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #21 - December 17th, 2007, 1:44 pm
    Post #21 - December 17th, 2007, 1:44 pm Post #21 - December 17th, 2007, 1:44 pm
    Cogito wrote:
    LikestoEatout wrote:North Aurora at Orchard and Oak across from the North Aurora Auto Mall at I-88.

    So you take the Orchard exit, and it's close by?


    Yes, after you exit to the north there is a stoplight in less than 100 yards that is the entrance to the North Aurora Auto Mall to the right and Woodman's is to the left set back a little behind a McD's. If you miss that turn the next light is Oak Street and there is an entrance off of Oak. They are open 24 hours and the liquor department is open 8 to 10 weekdays and Saturday, don't know the Sunday hours.
  • Post #22 - December 17th, 2007, 3:03 pm
    Post #22 - December 17th, 2007, 3:03 pm Post #22 - December 17th, 2007, 3:03 pm
    Cathy2 wrote: You get a sense in other big box grocery stores there are only a few sources for commercial baking. At Woodman's you meet the little guys, too, who cannot afford to buy shelf space at Jewel or Dominicks. It is all their regional sourcing I like about Woodman's.

    ...

    The pasties! There isn't just one vendor or just one kind, there are several vendors with different filling combinations. Woodmans's just orders lots of stuff, then lets the consumer figure out what is best for them

    Regards,


    Woodman's, unlike a lot of the Chicago chains, puts out (and moves) a lot of merchandise and I would argue has a firmer grasp on what the average consumer wants than most on the industry.

    The breads really don't impress me that much BUT they have a lot of brands that cannot afford to buy shelf space from the large chains. (I have seen estimates that upwards to 80% of chain margins are attributable to large slotting fees charged by the Big Three supermarket chains (Krogers, Safeway, Supervalu)).

    I have to admit that I did not even notice whether the Carpenterville store even carries beer and liquor .
  • Post #23 - December 17th, 2007, 3:19 pm
    Post #23 - December 17th, 2007, 3:19 pm Post #23 - December 17th, 2007, 3:19 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:The breads really don't impress me that much BUT they have a lot of brands that cannot afford to buy shelf space from the large chains. (I have seen estimates that upwards to 80% of chain margins are attributable to large slotting fees charged by the Big Three supermarket chains (Krogers, Safeway, Supervalu)).

    I have to admit that I did not even notice whether the Carpenterville store even carries beer and liquor .


    What stikes me about Woodman's is that for the most part, it's the vendors stocking the shelves. I shopped in North Aurora 3 times before I noticed the liquor department which has a door at the south entrance. C'ville is probably the same. Yes, they carry so many brands and many are small Wisconsin based products. I love the Badger brand pretzels.
  • Post #24 - December 18th, 2007, 2:58 pm
    Post #24 - December 18th, 2007, 2:58 pm Post #24 - December 18th, 2007, 2:58 pm
    I used to go to the Cub Foods where S&VT is currently, mostly because it wasn't as crowded and I thought it was a better alternative to Jewelnicks. I was excited for the S&VT and the first time my wife and I went there, we were blown away by the service. That being said, it was our only visit. It seems to be a little too "American" of a grocery store. We were underwhelmed at the quality of the produce and I wouldn't buy the meat there. The ground beef was a weird pink/orange color which reminded me of mass produced, hormone-filled, corporate farms product. I just can't go to a grocery store and not be able to shop for meat or produce. Actually, that's 80% of what I buy since I don't bother with a lot of the canned or processed goods. So, it's still Costco/Whole Foods for some meats, other specialty meats I go to a butcher or meat market (Paulina's for instance or sometimes August or Bari), and then try to hit Stanley's for produce (what I don't get at Whole Foods). The back-up plan, unfortunately, is Dominick's on Chgo Ave. I still need my Diet Coke from time to time...

    It's a shame Chicago doesn't have a grocery store like Byerly's in Minneapolis or even a Sweet Bay, like the Northeast. It would be nice to have good produce, quality meats, and the "American" staples like soda and chips without running to three different stores. Heck, I'd shop exclusively at Whole Foods if they had these other items, regardless of cost.
  • Post #25 - December 18th, 2007, 6:58 pm
    Post #25 - December 18th, 2007, 6:58 pm Post #25 - December 18th, 2007, 6:58 pm
    tyrus wrote:It's a shame Chicago doesn't have a grocery store like Byerly's in Minneapolis or even a Sweet Bay, like the Northeast.


    It is a real shame that Chicagoans did not patronize the handful of Byerly's stores that WERE here several years ago. I found Byerly's to be a great one stop destination for our groceries. With margins being what they are, apparently it wasn't profitable for Lund's / Byerly's to continue to service the Chicago market---- Their distribution center was 400 miles away.

    Not being able to have our needs met at any one store, we patronize Costco ( for everyday meats ), Zier's ( special occasion meats ), Sunset ( general groceries--Cheaper than Jewelnick's BTW ), Whole Paycheck ( produce ), Marketplace ( Deli ).

    We are back to shopping the way people did prior to the invention of the supermarket!
  • Post #26 - December 19th, 2007, 9:21 am
    Post #26 - December 19th, 2007, 9:21 am Post #26 - December 19th, 2007, 9:21 am
    cito wrote:We are back to shopping the way people did prior to the invention of the supermarket!

    This is such an interesting and insightful point that I had to write a post just to say it's an interesting and insightful point.

    Analogous to how (as Mike says) S&VT's location is hiding in plain sight, your observation is one of those hiding-in-plain-sight ideas.

    Nobody saw it coming, but we undid one of the great inventions of the twentieth century. D'oh.
  • Post #27 - December 19th, 2007, 10:19 am
    Post #27 - December 19th, 2007, 10:19 am Post #27 - December 19th, 2007, 10:19 am
    LikestoEatout wrote:What stikes me about Woodman's is that for the most part, it's the vendors stocking the shelves.


    Ther areas traditionally stocked by vendors - bread, chips, etc - at Jewel and Dominicks (and other grocery chains) are stocked by vendors at Woodman's. Most of the staple items, frozen items, etc. at Woodman's are stocked by Woodman employees. (I have seen this personally as I generally shop at Woodmans from 2-5 am as I don't have a life.)

    Now, do realize that MANY manufacturers and reps have jobbers that go into the store throughout the day and on weekends who are responsible for 1) making sure that their products get the shelf space that they are paying for and 2) cleaning and refacing their product. If a jobber goes in and sees a "stock out", they may go back to the stock room and get some more product out there.

    My uncles used to deliver potato chips for a division of Snyders to a particular hypermart. Each delivered three TRUCKLOADS of potato chips five days a week to the ONE store. They would stock the shelves and unload the balance of the truck to the storeroom. Three times each day, they would reface the shelves and move the stock out of the storeroom.
  • Post #28 - December 20th, 2007, 5:35 pm
    Post #28 - December 20th, 2007, 5:35 pm Post #28 - December 20th, 2007, 5:35 pm
    i am also a faithful shopper at S&VT, and i'd hate to see them close so soon.

    living in logan square, i like that this place is so close & i have basically stopped going to jewel all together (never went to dominick's), though i still have to supplement my shopping with small trips to trader joe's &/or sunflower market (heck, there is another place that has me worried.....does anyone shop there???).

    i get most staples at S&VT, though i can't find the oatmeal i prefer, and some of the gourmet/ethnic items, as well. but i don't mind going to a few places, just part of the fabric of putting together interesting meals.

    the ham salad has become a fave of mine, and i usually always pick up some seafood &/or meat. never have had any issues with quality, in fact, i buy more stuff from their butcher than i ever did at jewel. maybe because the staff is so friendly?

    i also buy produce, and it doesn't seem any worse off than the usual places....better than stanley's in terms of longevity, and decent prices for the most part.

    and of course, no "discount card" is a bonus & seeing what is naturally on sale is a plus.

    happy shopping,
    miss ellen
  • Post #29 - December 21st, 2007, 9:01 am
    Post #29 - December 21st, 2007, 9:01 am Post #29 - December 21st, 2007, 9:01 am
    smellen wrote:...though i still have to supplement my shopping with small trips to trader joe's &/or sunflower market (heck, there is another place that has me worried.....does anyone shop there???).

    I won't mourn the loss of Sunflower Market if it goes away. On our one trip there (the one on Clybourn--I don't know if there are others), I came away thinking it was trying to be two things and failing at both. It was a Trader Joe's that wasn't as good as a Trader Joe's, and a Whole Foods that wasn't as good as a Whole Foods. The confusion of identity was matched by a general cluelessness on the part of the staff, who seemed like they had been imported from some other operation altogether. (You want to believe that eating organic and healthy makes one happy and healthy, or at least not misanthropic. When the staff disproves the theorem, that's a problem. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods seem to get this.) To succeed, I think Sunflower Market should try to find a unique niche and be great at it, rather than trying to be two different things at once (a Whole Joe's?) and coming off like an ersatz version of both.

    But to do that, Sunflower Market would have to have an identity that grew organically (if you will) from the inside, rather than being imposed from the outside, and I don't sense a "there" there that could allow this to happen.
  • Post #30 - December 21st, 2007, 9:27 am
    Post #30 - December 21st, 2007, 9:27 am Post #30 - December 21st, 2007, 9:27 am
    I came away thinking it was trying to be two things and failing at both. It was a Trader Joe's that wasn't as good as a Trader Joe's, and a Whole Foods that wasn't as good as a Whole Foods.


    I do see your point, actually.

    Though it has one major pro in my book, and I can also say I've only been there a handful of times & to my knowledge, that is the only location in Chicago area:

    - an easy to navigate parking lot! Hey, what a novelty!!!

    I cannot say how much I loathe that horrid inside parking lot at Trader Joe's down the street.

    The layout keeps changing over time, almost every spot has a large pole in some part to get around, and the last time I tried to go there, it had snowed quite recently, and whatever they used to surface that lot, produced the most annoying noises every time you had to turn (which is just about every 2.5 seconds). I seriously had to stop, get out of my car & look to see if I had a flat tire or something else wrong, as the noise was so obtrusive.

    Not to mention my car was fogging over inside, and then as I tried to leave because I couldn't find a space that my car (a small mazda protege) could easily get into, the late afternon sun was actually shining outside, and hitting right as you try to turn & head out, so the guy directing the in/out flow of traffic was barely visable. Good times!

    It was such a joke. So instead of going all the way down & out and trying a 2nd attempt (which I contemplated), I went down the block, parked right in front of Sunflower & found my oatmeal and a few other things I needed.

    Heck, maybe TJ's can move into that space if Sunflower doesn't make it.

    Cheers!

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