Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

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SamSpade
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Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

Post by SamSpade » October 30th, 2018, 8:41 pm

For a community of just under 100,000 people (and a county of about 170,000), this is a very competitive grocery market!

Stores I've been in here (and quick thoughts):
Overall: Beer/wine/liquor can be sold in mainstream stores but they appear to have clear statutes about walls and reduced hours of sales. In some smaller markets (Aldi) this secured area appears to not be required.

Eggs are very inexpensive in this part of the country and also the jumbo/extra large sizes seem more common. Many stores also still sell them in styrofoam.

Fried chicken seems to be self-serve in many stores in this part of the country.

Meijer - my first experience with Meijer. This store apparently opened in 2015 as a photo is included with the snapshot of their story/history at the front of the store. There is a distribution center in Pleasant Prairie, so it seems like Meijer could move into Chicago suburbs if it wanted to. It does already have locations in Illinois.

Meijer is a pretty cool store. The apparel is definitely more at the level of Walmart/Target, meaning the "second tier" labels of big brand clothing, unlike Fred Meyer, who is allowed to sell "real" Levis, "real" Gold Toe socks, etc. The store had 2 doors and is open 24/7 I think.

The food floor is OK, but I looked at the oranges and just said "yuck" and moved on. They have a large area in the meat department devoted to sausages, but my coworkers here tell me that is very much a "thing" in Wisconsin. Their deli area is very comprehensive with a lot of options. It was not operating when I was in the store. Dietz & Watson premium meats.

Self checkout was interesting, I had to slide things down through a little windowed area and if it didn't go through correctly, the system would stop. These look like the larger self checkout stations some Walmart neighborhood markets use, but was a bit more sensitive.

Meijer is also promoting its home delivery and store pickup options like most retailers at present.

Steinbrink's Piggly Wiggly - TOPCO supplied store. Interesting. Went wild with their donuts, adding things like peanut butter frosting, fruity pebbles, etc. Quite a selection. Boar's Head premium meats in the deli case. Warehouse shelving in the aisles (maybe kind of like what folks here say about Shopper's - used to be the "cheap"/warehouse store but now very mainstream). Playing SiriusXM Prime Country for their in-store audio network.

ALDI - Aldi here had a small in-store bakery. I was there so close to closing (Aldi seems to like closing at 8 pm) it was already pretty much put away. I realized quickly how cheap ALDI is when they have something you want, but again it's kind of a core/fill-in store model. Across the street? Walmart supercenter. This ALDI may have been a little larger than the one I was in when in Lincoln, NE and seemed to have a bit more interesting merchandise. They were cleaning the floor while the store was still open.

Pick n' Save - Pick n' Save and Roundy's stores are now one division with Mariano's (more on that to come). They are open 6 am to 10 pm. There are lots of signs about "Wisconsin proud," etc. Pricing seemed similar to that of Kroger operated stores out west. There is a weird mix of store-brand products. Most are Kroger, but anything in dairy or gallon sized (but not most bottled) water were marked with Roundy's and it's chair's signature as a guarantee. I saw on the Meijer product I purchased their family has a similar guarantee, so perhaps that's the origin of it. Roundy's must still operate a dairy plant. The store decor is basically one of the newer Kroger decor sets. Lots of big yellow signs (especially in produce) emphasizing low prices. No click list visible. The prepared foods area by the deli was pretty large and all service departments were marked to be open until 8. Everything was being torn up promptly at 8. Deli was Boar's Head I believe.

Coming tomorrow:
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
Festival Foods

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Re: Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

Post by storewanderer » October 30th, 2018, 9:57 pm

Fresh Thyme, a copy of Sprouts so close, you'd swear it was Sprouts. Right down to the double-thick plastic bags at the bulk foods bins. The bakery at Fresh Thyme did have very good, excellent, tall, rich cookies at just 99cents each in the single serve case, though. Sprouts does not have that.

Meijer is a good operator but the perishables are questionable. Meijer reminds me most of Super Kmart, but I think Super Kmart had better perishables overall (Meijer is probably better on deli, and toss up on bakery).

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Re: Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

Post by rwsandiego » October 31st, 2018, 12:56 am

Meijer has had stores in the Chicago suburbs for several years now. I'm not a fan, to be honest with you. Their stores are much nicer, IMO, than Walmart's but their merchandise seems to be a step or two below Target's.

We catered my mother's memorial service lunch from Meijer and it was very good. Mom loved gatherings at my brother's house and so we had deli from Meijer and chicken from Jewel!

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Re: Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

Post by SamSpade » October 31st, 2018, 8:31 pm

RE: Meijer - Guess "Bing and decide" failed me.

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market - It's funny you mentioned the $0.99 cookies. They caught my eye and I bought one. It was really superior to almost any grocery baked good I've had in some time. The one I chose was cranberry orange. The orange peel brought that flavor through and there was a good mix of cranberries, oats, and what tasted like real butter for the fat.

I am sure in this part of the country this is seen as an 'expensive' store. Many of the prices were comparable to stores in my home market, which seems to be higher on some things than this area, but lower on a few others.

Fresh squeezed orange juice was affordable; juice smoothie bottles average price (about $5). This store is less expensive than Whole Foods and carrying a lot of store-branded products. The deli area was smaller than some supermarkets, but you could order a fresh made sandwich (Boar's Head) and pizza. This seems to be organized a little bit like what Kroger was going for with Main & Vine (smaller / "curated" natural grocer). No espresso bar but a deep selection of bottled beverages.

Festival Foods - Happy to find a contract post office. This was helpful. They also have a dry cleaning drop off / pickup, bank, DMV tag renewal kiosk. All the deli meat was pre-sliced and on display. No premium meats that I saw. There is a hot bar with fried chicken by the piece and a salad bar. This is all located under what they call a "dining terrace." There is a register there so you could ring purchases up in the deli area without having to go to the front of the store. There is also a community room available. While the store itself had warehouse style shelving and "traditional" grocery market tile floor, everything else about the place was pretty upscale. They had a deep bakery, a decent looking produce section, good cheese, and some specialized meat selections. This store was being supplied by SuperValu as their store brand is Essential Everyday.

Bonus! Woodman's Markets - I almost skipped this place. The photos online were UGLY. Then, when I stopped nearby for dinner (trying a chain restaurant I've never eaten), the store is HUGE! I realized that I needed to at least step in. Once inside, I realized this was the largest grocer I've ever been in as far as I know. Even stores I've visited in Texas don't seem to compare.

Store has THREE doors. One is kind of on the end for liquor / wine purchases. The other 2 doors were about the span a typical Fred Meyer or Walmart might have between door A and B. This store has 26 aisles of dry / frozen groceries and pet items and an additional 26 short aisles that contain things like cards, party supplies, toiletries, soda pop, waters along with a produce section and a weird bakery area near the liquor. The back wall had no service meat or seafood other than a deli meat and cheese counter that is open 8 am to 6:30 pm. The cheese! Oh the cheese! (and other dairy) Prices were fair. The ethnic food selection was amazing and if I were a big "world foods" chef or from a particular part of the world, I'm sure I'd spend some of my grocery budget here.

The floor was dirty though, it dusted up my shoes so badly that they were becoming slick. :-\

I'm not sure how Pick n' Save isn't open more hours here, as all their competition pretty much are.

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Re: Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

Post by SamSpade » October 31st, 2018, 8:41 pm

SamSpade wrote:
October 31st, 2018, 8:31 pm
RE: Meijer - Guess "Bing and decide" failed me.

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market - It's funny you mentioned the $0.99 cookies. They caught my eye and I bought one. It was really superior to almost any grocery baked good I've had in some time. The one I chose was cranberry orange. The orange peel brought that flavor through and there was a good mix of cranberries, oats, and what tasted like real butter for the fat.

I am sure in this part of the country this is seen as an 'expensive' store. Many of the prices were comparable to stores in my home market, which seems to be higher on some things than this area, but lower on a few others.

Fresh squeezed orange juice was affordable; juice smoothie bottles average price (about $5). This store is less expensive than Whole Foods and carrying a lot of store-branded products. The deli area was smaller than some supermarkets, but you could order a fresh made sandwich (Boar's Head) and pizza. This seems to be organized a little bit like what Kroger was going for with Main & Vine (smaller / "curated" natural grocer). No espresso bar but a deep selection of bottled beverages.

Festival Foods - Happy to find a contract post office. This was helpful. They also have a dry cleaning drop off / pickup, bank, DMV tag renewal kiosk. All the deli meat was pre-sliced and on display. No premium meats that I saw. There is a hot bar with fried chicken by the piece and a salad bar. This is all located under what they call a "dining terrace." There is a register there so you could ring purchases up in the deli area without having to go to the front of the store. There is also a community room available. While the store itself had warehouse style shelving and "traditional" grocery market tile floor, everything else about the place was pretty upscale. They had a deep bakery, a decent looking produce section, good cheese, and some specialized meat selections. This store was being supplied by SuperValu as their store brand is Essential Everyday.

Bonus! Woodman's Markets - I almost skipped this place. The photos online were UGLY. Then, when I stopped nearby for dinner (trying a chain restaurant I've never eaten), the store is HUGE! I realized that I needed to at least step in. Once inside, I realized this was the largest grocer I've ever been in as far as I know. Even stores I've visited in Texas don't seem to compare.

Store has THREE doors. One is kind of on the end for liquor / wine purchases. The other 2 doors were about the span a typical Fred Meyer or Walmart might have between door A and B. This store has 26 aisles of dry / frozen groceries and pet items and an additional 26 short aisles that contain things like cards, party supplies, toiletries, soda pop, waters along with a produce section and a weird bakery area near the liquor. The back wall had no service meat or seafood other than a deli meat and cheese counter that is open 8 am to 6:30 pm. The cheese! Oh the cheese! (and other dairy) Prices were fair. The ethnic food selection was amazing and if I were a big "world foods" chef or from a particular part of the world, I'm sure I'd spend some of my grocery budget here.

Store brand was Shur Fine. At first I thought they didn't carry much, but this store stocks one brand top to bottom in a section of shelving, which is pretty cool so if you are brand loyal, you can go right to a section of shelf. Clearly they are not being paid for shelf space placement.

The floor was dirty though, it dusted up my shoes so badly that they were becoming slick. :-\

I'm not sure how Pick n' Save isn't open more hours here, as all their competition pretty much are.

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Re: Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

Post by klkla » November 1st, 2018, 3:19 pm

SamSpade wrote:
October 31st, 2018, 8:31 pm

Bonus! Woodman's Markets - I almost skipped this place. The photos online were UGLY. Then, when I stopped nearby for dinner (trying a chain restaurant I've never eaten), the store is HUGE! I realized that I needed to at least step in. Once inside, I realized this was the largest grocer I've ever been in as far as I know. Even stores I've visited in Texas don't seem to compare.

Store has THREE doors. One is kind of on the end for liquor / wine purchases. The other 2 doors were about the span a typical Fred Meyer or Walmart might have between door A and B. This store has 26 aisles of dry / frozen groceries and pet items and an additional 26 short aisles that contain things like cards, party supplies, toiletries, soda pop, waters along with a produce section and a weird bakery area near the liquor. The back wall had no service meat or seafood other than a deli meat and cheese counter that is open 8 am to 6:30 pm. The cheese! Oh the cheese! (and other dairy) Prices were fair. The ethnic food selection was amazing and if I were a big "world foods" chef or from a particular part of the world, I'm sure I'd spend some of my grocery budget here.

The floor was dirty though, it dusted up my shoes so badly that they were becoming slick. :-\
Interesting. I had never heard of this chain before. Their stores all seem to be that size. According to their website they have 17 stores with North Aurora IL be the furthest south, and Altoona WI the furthest north (which is closer to Minneapolis).

Their interiors make Market Basket in New England look modern,

They most have gotten a good deal on surplus 1970's brick-style floor tiles and wood paneling LOL

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb ... EnoECAUQBg

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb ... EnoECAUQBg

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Re: Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

Post by rwsandiego » November 1st, 2018, 6:35 pm

klkla wrote:
November 1st, 2018, 3:19 pm
SamSpade wrote:
October 31st, 2018, 8:31 pm

Bonus! Woodman's Markets - I almost skipped this place. The photos online were UGLY. Then, when I stopped nearby for dinner (trying a chain restaurant I've never eaten), the store is HUGE! I realized that I needed to at least step in. Once inside, I realized this was the largest grocer I've ever been in as far as I know. Even stores I've visited in Texas don't seem to compare.

Store has THREE doors. One is kind of on the end for liquor / wine purchases. The other 2 doors were about the span a typical Fred Meyer or Walmart might have between door A and B. This store has 26 aisles of dry / frozen groceries and pet items and an additional 26 short aisles that contain things like cards, party supplies, toiletries, soda pop, waters along with a produce section and a weird bakery area near the liquor. The back wall had no service meat or seafood other than a deli meat and cheese counter that is open 8 am to 6:30 pm. The cheese! Oh the cheese! (and other dairy) Prices were fair. The ethnic food selection was amazing and if I were a big "world foods" chef or from a particular part of the world, I'm sure I'd spend some of my grocery budget here.

The floor was dirty though, it dusted up my shoes so badly that they were becoming slick. :-\
Interesting. I had never heard of this chain before. Their stores all seem to be that size. According to their website they have 17 stores with North Aurora IL be the furthest south, and Altoona WI the furthest north (which is closer to Minneapolis).

Their interiors make Market Basket in New England look modern,

They most have gotten a good deal on surplus 1970's brick-style floor tiles and wood paneling LOL

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb ... EnoECAUQBg

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb ... EnoECAUQBg
My parents loooooooooooooved the Woodman's in Carpentersville, IL. The first time I walked in I thought it was an old store. Nope - almost brand new. That store had the dusty floors, too. Maybe they are like the restaurant chains that scatter peanut shells on the floor to encourage tossing the shells.

Your comments about Fresh Thyme being considered expensive made me laugh because 60 miles south in Chicago those prices would be considered discount.

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Re: Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

Post by storewanderer » November 1st, 2018, 10:28 pm

Woodman's seems to excel at selection, not so much at things like perishables or having a particularly clean store. I think they do some of the highest volumes in the industry, likely up there with WinCo if not even a little better. I also remember their pricing being very, very strong. I don't recall much if any private label but a strong focus on regional brands with the strongest mix and pricing anywhere. When I was there, they also did not accept credit cards. It appears they now accept Discover but no other card types.

It definitely would have been a mistake to not go in.

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Re: Kenosha: What a Competitive Grocery Market

Post by Bagels » November 19th, 2018, 3:09 am

A couple years ago, the Detroit Free Press investigated Fresh Thyme’s background and concluded it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Meijer (Meijer wouldn’t comment on the article, but has previously acknowledged it’s a major shareholder in Fresh Thyme). My guess is that they copied off of Sprouts thinking that they could build Fresh Thyme in the Midwest/East and later sell it.

Speaking of Meijer, sorry your experience wasn’t favorable. Some locations do sell better quality merchandise than Walmart (for example, clothing brands like Chaps, US Polo Association, etc.) - I never figured out the rhyme or reason as to which locations had the better merchandise.

And I’ve always found Meijer’s perishables to be of high quality, with among the best produce selection of any traditional grocery store. The seafood selection is also the best of any traditional Midwestern grocery store (which isn’t saying much LOL).

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