Monday, April 03, 2006

Market Basket vs. Hannaford

When I lived in Groton, MA, I used to travel 20 minutes to shop at Market Basket in Westford instead of 7 minutes to the local Donelans. I remember the prices being lower, but when I moved to my current house in Pepperell 10 years ago, it was just too far away to justify. Besides, the local supermarket, then a Victory owned by DeGeronimo Brothers, was not as expensive as Donelan's and it was only 1/4 mile away (all of a 3 minute drive). A couple years ago, Victory was bought out by Hannaford. At first the prices were lower, but then I noticed that they started creeping up until they were definitely higher than before. I try to be a frugal shopper, but I make enough money not to have to worry about prices in the supermarket, especially one that is so convenient. Of course I tally our grocery bill in my expense spreadsheet and last year it finally topped $500/month (this includes consumables like diapers, shampoo, vitamins, batteries, light bulbs, etc., most of which I get a BJ's).

By chance last month, I was in Nashua during lunch and decided to pick up a few things at the Market Basket there.

(This picture, found on Flickr is of the one further down on Amherst St, as opposed to the one next to the A.C. Moore, where I was. This brings up another point, they don't even have a website to steal a graphic logo from!!).

When I walked into this one, it was like stepping back in time 30 years. The store had probably never been updated since opening, the floors were worn, it had stained drop ceiling tiles and the fluorescent bulbs were just mounted bare. But then I noticed that the prices were like they were 10 years ago as well. All varieties of apples were $0.99/pound as opposed to $1.49/pound at Hannaford's. And my favorite deli meat, Thin 'n Trim Golden Turkey Breast was $4.59/pound as opposed to $7.99/pound!! I was shocked at the price differences. So is it worth changing my shopping schedule from Sundays to some weekday so I can go from work (11 minutes from work, and then 25 minutes home)? I tried it today after work. Of course, I won't be able to see the difference in the grocery bill until I go there exclusively for a few months. But in my first trip, I did find lots of good finds. I used to get a bag of Adam's favorite Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips for $8.99 at Hannaford's (total rip-off, but they are his favorite), and they had a Market Basket brand of the same thing (no such equivalent at Hannaford's) for $5.49, and as every parent of young children knows, you must have the an endless supply of of the correct kind of chicken nuggets (we'll see if he will accept the store brand imitation). The big jug of Cedar's Hommus was $2.99 as opposed to $4.99. OK, this is just as cheap as Trader Joe's, but going there is another special trip (25 min each way, or 13 min from work and 25 min back.. you've got to add all the extra gas and car maintenance as well) which I only take about every 3 weeks.

Also, simple things like a bag of lentils which are cheap at $0.99 at Hannaford's was only $0.69 at Market Basket. The meat was cheaper too. And yes, there were a few things that were similar in price, not everything was cheaper (good thing I have steel trap memory so all these prices are seared into my brain). But the store also had a horrible ammonia smell that made me gag. What lengths will I go to save a few dollars? We'll see. If anything, the convenience factor will probably trump saving money, but I will give it a try. At least it didn't make me feel like I want to go incognito like at Walmart!

4/5/06 Update - I went to the Market Basket in Hudson, NH, and this store is definitely more to my liking. Newer, bigger, cleaner and same great prices. I had asked for 1/2 lb. of turkey at the deli counter, and he accidently sliced 0.83 lb. So he took off a few slices, printed out the 1/2 lb slip and put the extra slices back into my bag! Awesome!! This will be my new supermarket if I can swing it (13 min from work, but 30 min from home). Oh yeah, and it's pretty close to Walmart too...

Edited to add 08/14/08 - Since this post is over two years old, I thought I would update my thoughts on Market Basket. I now religiously go to Market Basket and my food bill has been consistently lower the last two years, even with the recent rise in food prices. I usually pick through the produce as opposed to buying the packaged stuff, and have not had many issues. When I go to Hannaford in an emergency, I'm always shocked at the prices. Market Basket is always crowded, especially on weekends, but it is well worth the trip.


Anonymous said...

Cool! Who knew that Hommus had a web page of it's own! being the cheapskate that I am, my mind instantly turned to the extra money we are probably spending because we have not gone comparison shopping for about 5 years now.

It's not as if we don'f have stores close to us....sure, Hannefords is closest...but Shaws and Market Basket are on the same road about 2 miles further.

The reason I focused in no Hommus was that the price you quoted for $2.99 for the big size is a great deal. I think I pay something like $3.49....

But right after I thought of the price, I instantly thought about going downstairs to eat some for myself. ( initial excuse was to see what we paid....but come on, I knew it was only a matter of a few milliseconds before I had to sample some for myself.

I guess my favorite flavors are Roasted Red Pepper (but only when they make it with big bits of pepper), then I guess anything with Garlic (I love garlic....I'm not sure ANYONE else likes me after that....but I digress) Then I love something called like Black Pepper Flavor. (whatever that is...i forget who makes it...apparently it isn't must be the COMPETITION!)

Here are some reviews of Hummus makers:

Oh well...maybe I'll do some looking into our food bill. I'm not sure we will ever make up for the rise in fuel bills....but I guess it doesn't hurt to try.

Anonymous said...

I just went to the fairly new Super Stop and Shop in Hudson...and wow was it a lot more expensive than I remember. I don't know if they perhaps lowered their prices for the opening..but I thought they were pretty good way back when they opened.

I only bought some cheese and Hommus (between my last comment and this one it sounds as though I live on a chickpea diet :-). The brie and swiss cheese I bought were really the same price as at Hannefords, but I think the Hommus had a gun to my at head because I paid something like $4.50 for it where I normally pay something like $3.49.

Anyways....I guess I was hungry, and it was raining and I was there....

Aaron said...

Market Basket may be cheaper than Hannaford, but I will continue to shop @ Hannaford for the following reasons:
1.) The Meat and produce quality is FAR Superior than Market Basket
2.) Hannaford Store's are generally very clean and shopper friendly...( stained celling tiles making the store look 100 years old, or amonia/dead animals smells that make me gag...such as that of most M.B's)
3.) Hannaford Inspiration products and new (1st in the nation) guiding star program is great, especially those sticking to a diet.
Keep up the good work Hannaford, and I'll continue to shop there!

Angela said...

Oh please, after nearly a year of going to Market Basket, I have been really happy with their produce and meat. At Hannaford, the only thin-sliced port they offered was "enhanced" with a 10% solution that contained way too much sodium. At least Market Basket offers the meat and just the meat for half the price.

Do you work for Hannaford's or something?

Anonymous said...

have to agree with the majority on this one Market Basket is much cheaper than Shaws. There produce is a sore spot for them imho. But every other department is of better quality and cheaper than Shaws. I really wish they would build one in Merrimack though is a drag having to travel to Nashua to do my shopping.