Thursday, January 14, 2010

Grocery store opening: highlight of the week

I'm not complaining but since becoming a Domestic Project Manager (aka Stay at Home Mom), the caliber of my daily excitement has definitely changed. For today's big outing, Sidney and I went to the newly opened QFC grocery store here in Ballard. I was trying to think of a place that was:
  • free
  • had parking
  • would be interesting to an infant
  • sold croutons.
VoilĂ !

I do all the grocery shopping for the family and while I once loathed it, now it is an outing I look forward to. First it's incredibly stimulating to Sidney and that makes me feel better about her being strapped into her infant seat for that length of time. Second, I get to pick out the food I like since I'm the picky eater and have specific brands of things I prefer. Third, the day I discovered Whole Foods is the day I felt like a young girl in love again. For the record, we seldom buy groceries at Whole Foods but it doesn't stop me from going there and cruising the aisles like a star-struck groupie. If there is a heaven, it looks like Whole Foods. It's probably because everything in that store is either organic, natural, cage-free or was spoken to nicely before it became food.

But today we went to a brand spankin' new QFC. We were there midday so besides parents and young children there were a great number of "retired folks" milling about. Nothing wrong with that except don't get stuck behind them in the aisles or at the sample table. A sample to avoid: the freshly made California roll. They have an amazingly compact sushi station there with Asian-ish looking folks putting stuff together but it just didn't taste fresh. On the plus side, they have an enormous wine section and their bakery is impressive. I also marveled at how energy efficient their frozen food aisle is. Usually you'd want to camp out there on a hot day but when we strolled down, it was roughly the same temperature as the rest of the store. Nicely done.

There were lots of extra employees on hand since I think they just opened a few days ago. (Nope, actually yesterday.) So they were still painting a mural in the parking garage and getting some things figured out. One major drawback is the parking. Though they have it under the store, it's tight. You think the Ballard Trader Joe's lot is small, this is worse. I would not suggest heading into the underground unless it's not very crowded like at midday or late at night. Thankfully they had several of their extra staff members who were extremely friendly and cheerful down there to help direct traffic. One guy (I kid you not) offered to fetch an elderly shopper's car, valet style, as she was coming down into the parking area with groceries. And she took him up on it.

So good for you QFC, I don't know if you can maintain that level of service, but more power to you. But if we're going to compare prices, I was shrewdly eyeing items we constantly buy: formula, diapers, wipes, cereal, yogurt, croutons. And sorry to say QFC's prices are higher for the exact same brands as our current favorite store, Ballard Market. This QFC does have some organic/natural selections but not enough to substantiate markups on everything. The boutique grocery stores have better artisan and organic selections with still better prices--so it looks like despite all the bright and colorful aisles, we'll still be trolling the aisles of our old store.

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