local grocery shopping: it’s a different experience

When we moved here to Hemet in May we had to readjust our grocery shopping habits.

In Gilroy we had Nob Hill, our regional upscale grocery chain. We had the mainstream and dependable Safeway grocery chain. We had Trader Joe’s. Oh, and I forced myself to shop at Walmart after after I was laid off.

Here in Hemet we have no upscale grocery chain. We have no mainstream and dependable grocery chain.

What we have in Hemet is Stater Bros. In fact there are six of them in the San Jacinto Valley. Stater Bros is a pivately held grocery chain with 168 stores mostly in Southern California. They are plain and utilitarian, but well stocked. They have excellent meat and a full-service meat counter. The newer, larger stores have bakeries and seafood departments. We shop a lot at Staters.

Then we have Winco. Winco is an employee-owned chain with 100 stores in Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon (hence Winco). The first time I walked into Winco I thought I had walked into Home Depot by mistake. But their focus is low prices, and they have a reasonable selection. We give Winco a fair amount of business.

We have our specialty stores as well.

There is Fresh & Easy. Fresh & Easy was originally owned by a British company with the concept of selling pre-packaged plastic-wrapped produce with self-checkout. The concept of pre-packaged plastic-wrapped produce may work in the U.K., but it certainly did not fly in California. They closed a number of stores, and sold he remainder to a private equity company. The new owners are doing a good job. The self-checkout remains, but they have fresh take and bake pizza, fresh microwavable ethnic lunch entrées (like butter curry chicken), and similar frozen entrées. Their tangerine juice is delicious. We like Fresh & Easy.

There is also Sprouts. The best way to describe Sprouts is Whole Foods in a space the size of a Trader Joe’s with much lower prices. We like Sprouts.

Oh, yes. We do have Walmart. But with the prices offered by the other stores I feel no need to shop at Walmart. Thank goodness.

It’s a big change, but we’re figuring it out.

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