Truth be told, I've become disillusioned of late with both Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. The former with its narrow aisles, uppity employees, rather high prices, and surprisingly un-tasty fresh foods (I'm talking about their insipid slices of pizza, lifeless chicken salad, and fishy crab cakes to name a few), the latter with frozen food products that seem to rival Banquet in both mushiness and lack of taste, the complete absence of any type of in-store bakery, not to mention that soccer moms and their kids tend to use the aisles as places to hang out, and then snarl at people with carts who are actually trying to shop. Do I sound a bit cranky? Maybe I am, but after years of shopping at both places, the bloom is definitely off the rose.
Enter The Fresh Market, a North Carolina-based chain of gourmet supermarkets that recreate the feeling of open European-style markets.
Open, airy, pleasant, clean (sparkling, in fact), with produce that beckons, and baked goods (cleverly placed throughout the store in addition to being located in an eye-popping in-store bakery) that are positively mouthwatering. We succumbed to the buy-one-get-one-free pie offer and were not disappointed. In our defense, the pies were small ones.
The seafood and meat counters were packed with delicious looking and fresh items. It was such a sensory overload that it wasn't until we returned home that I realized we hadn't actually purchased the crab cakes that I'd been drooling over. No problem! I'll be back.
Don't let the “gourmet” aspect put you off. This store has sales, great sales. Their fresh, beautiful, red (with no gray meat hidden in the center, a la large supermarkets, for shame!) ground chuck is on sale every Tuesday in June for $2.99/pound! This is but one of many Tuesday specials.
If a supermarket can have an aura, this one had a beautiful one. I had such a lovely, relaxed feeling while shopping here. Plus, the employees were nice! Very nice. Outgoing, pleasant, and not at all hassled or annoyed by my questions. They made me feel as if they were pleased to have me in their store.
Is this place the “be all” of grocery stores? Well, no. I have yet to find such a place, but that could be because I am continually in search of less than common ingredients and this often involves specialty or ethnic stores. But with money tight for nearly everyone these days, I'm going to spend mine at a place that offers good specials and makes me feel as if my patronage is both welcomed and appreciated. If you happen to live in one of the areas that has one of these stores, check it out.
This is not a sponsored post. I am just a really happy customer.
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