In my small town we have two food/multi-purpose markets in the town center. One is a nationally recognized chain owned by a large public company. The other is a local grocery called the Village market that has been in existence for more than 70 years. Both offer different value propositions and I shop at both for different reasons.
When it comes to pricing the big box supermarket cannot be beaten. So for basic staples the big box is where I do my shopping. The clerks are quite pleasant, the store is clean and bright and there are many choices. But for things like fresh produce, a butcher that grinds meat on the premises, (unlike the supermarket), and overall higher quality ingredients, we go to the local grocery. The people there are even more pleasant and they go out of their way to pack your bags and even help take them to the car if that’s what you need. They have a better salad bar, better fresh soups and their selection of fish is also better than the supermarket.
And to no one’s surprise the local grocery is of course more expensive than the supermarket, at times substantially so. It is bothersome since to get the best deal and the best quality products, you actually need to go to two markets that are well within walking distance of one another (almost nobody ever actually does this however). The parking lot is much easier to navigate at the local grocery although it does tend to get quite full (it is solely dedicated to the grocery), whereas the supermarket has a vast parking lot that is seemingly never full since it shares space with a number of stores.
The owner of the grocery is quite visible in town, donating food to many causes and helping out residents in a number of ways. And while I am certain that the grocery is quite a profitable enterprise I don’t begrudge its success since it continually delivers on the promise of ‘being large enough to have what you want – small enough to get to know you.’
I don’t know what would be the ‘promise’ of the large supermarket, other than we have a lot of stuff and we are low-priced and we have cool scanning so you can check yourself out.
But what I am most happy about is that we actually have a choice and they are so dramatically different. I like having choices don’t you? – Especially when the choices are so easy to contrast and compare.