Best & worst grocery stores 2010

The average American consumer makes about two trips a week to the supermarket. Apparently, all of this time spent wandering grocery store aisles has made shoppers certain of what they like -- and don't like -- when it comes to where they fill their carts.

For the fourth time, we asked our readers to tell us which grocery stores they love and which they hate. In this latest edition, we found it was a toss-up on stores like Aldi, Food Lion and Kroger. Depending on location, it seems these three retailers had just as many fans as detractors.

And while none of the stores on our list received a unanimous thumbs-up or thumbs-down, our picks for the Best & Worst Grocery Stores 2010 were the ones that had the strongest leanings one way or the other.

Keep reading to see the top and bottom five, as well as actual quotes from readers.
(It is important to note that our ranking is based solely on individual consumer opinions and personal experiences and may or may not be reflective of your experience or every store location.)


No. 1: Wegmans

Headquartered in Rochester, New York, Wegmans was founded in 1916 by the Wegman family. Wegmans operates 75 stores: 48 in New York State, 13 in Pennsylvania, 7 in New Jersey, 6 in Virginia and 1 in Maryland.

Sample Reader Comments:

sweet sue 14218says:
"Wegmans is absolutely the best food store I have ever shopped in. [It has] lowest prices, friendly and helpful staff and the store is always spotless. Another good thing is they have plenty of cart corrals to put your empty cart in to keep them from hitting anyone [else's] car."

Neesko says:
"One of the highlights of visiting my son and family in Rochester, N.Y. is going to Wegmans. [On my] last visit, I [took] the tour of the [flagship] store. Wegmans, please come to Virginia -- especially Virginia Beach!"

ELH007 says:
"I shop at Wegmans all the time. Their prices, for the most part, are cheaper than Tops and Wal-Mart. Besides, their produce and meats are better and fresher. The stores are always clean. I love Wegmans."


No. 2: Publix

Founded in 1930, Publix Super Markets is the largest and fastest-growing employee-owned supermarket chain in the United States. There are 1,017 store locations: 729 in Florida, 178 in Georgia, 42 in South Carolina, 41 in Alabama and 27 in Tennessee.

Sample Reader Comments:

carlospr says:
"[Publix is] always clean, from top to bottom. Top quality, reasonable prices. THE BEST!"

DebDebGa says:
"Love Publix, love almost everything about it. [The employees are] always eager to help and assist. [They have] brands and items not sold by the big box stores. Close to home. Excellent return policy. Love the sales and samples. I only go to the 'other' supermarkets when I am in them for other reasons. I am loyal!"

Imsosure1 says:
"I love Publix! It's always clean and brightly lit. It's organized. I don't ever feel like I'm getting ripped off, and I love that I don't need some kind of membership card to get a fair price. The employees are always super helpful and seem to enjoy being at work. I never wait in a check out line with more than one person before they quickly open another lane. And they have a good selection of organics and healthy choices. [It's also] neatly organized, so I can find what they have easily. There are enough Publix around that I can always find one, too. Go, Publix!"


No. 3: ShopRite

All ShopRite owners are members of Wakefern Food Corporation. The cooperative is comprised of 45 members who individually own and operate supermarkets under the ShopRite banner. Today, Wakefern and ShopRite together employ more than 50,000 people throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

Sample Reader Comments:

BENSON138 says:
"ShopRite of Staten Island, N.Y. has always been my favorite grocery store they always have the best deals, I love the Bakery Department, they are so friendly, with great selections. They have wonderful sales each week. The store on Hylan Blvd., will always be my place to shop."

Nez 727 says:
"You can never beat ShopRite prices anywhere else in Northern New Jersey. Stop&Shop prices [are] way too high! Acme [has] bad meat, plus super-high prices. Pathmark is about as good as ShopRite, but ShopRite has their Can-Can sale, which I always stock up on all canned foods. You can never beat their prices. Never! [I] cannot wait until the new ShopRite [opens] in Bayonne. I hope [it] is as big or bigger than the one in Harrison, N.J."

bl3ss3dangel21 says:
"ShopRite has always been my favorite grocery store. They always have the best deals. Love it. Middletown, N.Y. -- whoop whoop!"


No. 4: Trader Joe's

In 1967, the first Trader Joe's opened its doors in Pasadena, Calif. As of May 2010, Trader Joe's had a total of 341 stores in 25 states and Washington, D.C.

Sample Reader Comments:

BarbaraM5008 says:
"I love shopping at Trader Joe's in California --- excellent prices, fresh products, great serviceI"

eillieyum11 says:
"[My favorite store is] Trader Joe's -- it's natural, organic, fresh, kosher, inexpensive, and healthy."

"Love Trader Joe's! Excellent milk and dairy foods at great prices. Delicious Nantes carrots not available elsewhere. Have also received many new ideas from their sampling table ... best one was shrimp and tomato pesto appetizer salad."


No. 5: Meijer

Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Michigan, based retailer that operates 189 supercenters throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky

Sample Reader Comments:

Sunnyphilly4 says:
"I love Meijer's stores. We drive a truck and when [we are] in any of the states that Meijer is in, we go out of our way to stock up. Their produce is great and prices are reasonable. The stores are a pleasure to be in."

MPHJ says:
"I love Meijer! I have been shopping (or going) there for over 40 years. Their chain has really grown over the years and has kept up with the times with clean stores, great food and produce with decent prices and good sales regularly. I started with them in the lower central Michigan area and they have grown to include northern Indiana and parts of Ohio. It was started in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area by Fredrick Meijer and he has given a lot back to the communities. He has long since passed on*, but his endowments, scholarships, gardens, parks and recreation areas live on forever. Good food store chain!"

[*Editor's Note: Hendrik Meijer and his 14-year-old son, Frederik, entered the grocery business in 1934. Hendrik passed away at age 80 in 1964, but Frederik turned 90 this year and continues to live out his golden years in Michigan.]

jimoaklanduniv says:
"If you are fortunate enough to live close to a Meijer, you will find low prices, good quality and good service. The BIG thing is that they also donate a lot of food to food banks, programs to feed hungry children. etc They do this discreetly, without fanfare."


No. 1:

Samuel Robinson and Robert Crawford merged their store with four Philadelphia grocers in 1917 to become the American Stores Company. In the 1930s, most of the grocer's storefronts became ACME. Today, ACME operates 125 supermarkets in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Sample Reader Comment:

DABOO JJ says:
"I HATE Acme markets! They are ALWAYS higher than their competitors down the street, and seem to not even care! Especially the one in Hockessin, Delaware. They seem to think that since the majority of the population is mid-to-upper income, they can just charge whatever they want! I talked to someone in my neighborhood about this, and they told me they did some research, and the Acme Market in Hockessin , Delaware is the highest priced Acme on the East Coast! I wish I had enough time in the day, I would rally a group to protest right out in front of their stores!"


No. 2: Shaw's

In 1860, George C. Shaw opened his first store in Portland, Maine. Today, Shaw's Supermarkets employs approximately 30,000 associates in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Sample Reader Comment:

egb67 says:
"Avoid Shaw's like the plague. They're 35 - 60% more expensive than Market Basket (Dimoula's) and they treat their people like crap. DiMoula's is wholly American and treats its people well. Moreover, they've got a better feel for the local community and they actually respond to the local needs. The local Shaw's (near me) is so much more expensive than ANY other store in the area (except for Whole Foods) that I haven't shopped there in more than five years."


No. 3: Weis Markets

Weis Markets, Inc. was founded in Sunbury, Pa. in 1912 by Sigmund and Harry Weis. Today, it operates 164 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia.

Sample Reader Comment:

Remjmus says:
"This store [in Macungie, Pa.] is a mess. Has been since the day it opened. Right at the front door as you walk in sits a display of oranges, all brown and moldy. Some are still orange, but won't be long. Same thing down the produce isle. You pick up fruits and vegetables that are rotten. And you tell the people stocking, you should not put that out like that and they continue to stock it anyway. Lots of overripe fruits and vegetables. I picked up a jar of pickles the other day and checked the date and they were from August of 2009. Same in the eggs and packaged cheese. I would love to shop at my neighborhood store, but as a result I will go somewhere else. I have complained to management many times. [I have also] gone online to the Weis store [site] and made complaints and obviously it is the policy of the store to stock it even it is rotten out of date."


No. 4:Giant Eagle

In 1931, the five families combined forces to form Giant Eagle. It now has more than 200 stores throughout Western Pennsylvania, Central and Northern Ohio, Northern West Virginia and Western Maryland.

Sample Reader Comment:

Lizbethlady says:
"I am disappointed in Giant Eagle. I find prices high. Often when there is a price break, it isn't recognized at checkout. You have to watch each item as it is being entered. Also, the produce is not the freshest. I will not buy any meat there as I once asked for ground pork and watch through a window as the butcher put it through a ground beef one. I refused to take it."


No. 5: Pathmark

Pathmark was founded in 1968, and today is a subsidiary of A&P. The regional chain currently operates 141 supermarkets in the New York-New Jersey and Philadelphia metropolitan areas.

Sample Reader Comment:

REDSYD1 says:
"Pathmark started out well and went downhill. Sale items impossible to find, bad carts, dirty aisles and super rude checkers. Once, when I was reaching for a bag to bag my own groceries, the checker started up the conveyor belt which caught the skin of my forearm giving it a painful pinch. The checker's response was 'So, sue Pathmark.' I told the manager and hope the twit was fired."


Was your favorite (least favorite) store left out? Tell us where you like (and hate) to shop on our message board.
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