Monday, September 10, 2007

Is Whole Foods still a grocery store?

In my previous post Where am I going to shop?, I lamented about the closing of the local Whole Foods that was replaced with a much large Whole Foods that is farther away. But being a good foodie, I was willing to give it a try. Over the last week and half I visited three times: Sunday of Labor Day weekend, a week night after work, and last Saturday as part of my weekly shopping. Before I talk about inside the store, let me first rile about its location. Its about as far away from a freeway as you can get in Orange County. Traffic around the shopping center where its located was bad on Sunday and the weekday (it was impossible right after work). Parking was terrible, and with more stores going in, including a Best Buy next door, will only get worse. So those three things put the store at a huge disadvantage. But lets go inside.
  • The produce section was larger and quality appeared the same with some more variety (they had more types of peppers)
  • The fish market expanded and now has a selection of whole fish
  • Whole Foods meat and poultry always seem good but expensive. This week, they were reasonably priced, so they get a nod as long as prices stay lower.
  • Alex, my favorite produce guy is still there, but he leaves for school next week
  • Didn't see a lot of regular paper goods and cleansers
  • They had a whole lot of places to buy prepared foods including Italian, Mexican, Brazilian, Japanese, ice cream, bakery goods, smoked meats, grilled foods, etc.
With all the prepared food stations, it feels and acts much more like a lunch time cafeteria that also has a small grocery store inside. So will I go back? Probably. The quality of the produce keeps me coming back and with the expanded fish section and hopefully lower meat prices, that will be enough for me to spend a larger portion of my Saturday shopping. What will keep me from going there is if the new Sprouts or Mothers stores that are proposed to move into Tustin offer what I am looking for in a grocery store and skip the cafeteria look and feel.
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