Grocery stores

There are good Giants and crappy Giants. Same goes for Safeway. And Shoppers Food Warehouse. I guess the difference is age but sometimes I notice the products, the quality of the products differ too. That’s just wrong. I should find the same quality of garlic or apples or salad in one Shopper’s or Giant no different than another Shopper’s or Giant. But sometimes, crappy building, crappy produce. Is it just me? Anyone else noticing a difference ’round here?

24 thoughts on “Grocery stores”

  1. The Rhode Island Ave Giant is the worst-managed store. Ever. It’s truly unbelievable hob bad the service is, how dirty it is, and the attitude of everyone who works there. I always shopped at Giant, since I was a kid. A few trips to that store and I stopped going, there or to any Giant. I go to the Teet now. Good service, clean, and a little more expensive.

  2. The Giant at 8th and O NW is just foul with near-rotten, picked through, and smashed produce. I went there last night and the strawberries already had mold and the anemic peaches had flies buzzing all around them. Even the bagged lettuce is perpetually nearing or past its expiration and a few hours from being liquified and snotty. Move from there to the terminally dysfunctional check out lines for your 30 minute wait and you’ve had a classic DC shopping experience. Still, it’s nice to walk to a grocery store… but, bring your own cart because they’ve run out of those too.

  3. Produce in the city is pretty bad in general. This is something that doesnt make much sense to me. Why is it so hard to get good produce?

    I have always hated going to Giant, as overall their stores are the least clean, have a terrible selection, and very few specialty items. However, the Safeway on RI is even worse. Poor service, badly arranged and produce that isnt fit for a mule.

    I wonder if the new safeway on NY ave will be better?

    Oh, we all know that the produce at Fresh Fields is the best, but i am not paying 3$ for a damn tomato.

    The Teet is right in the middle of the bunch, and gets most of my business.

  4. Yes, the quality of the produce (and other foodstuff) is directly related to the income base of their consumers. Compare the Giant at 8th/P with the new Giant in Columbia Heights to the Giant in McLean … where is the money and where is the freshest, top quality produce? Safeway is no different. I used to live in Falls Church and the produce from the Safeway on 29 was terrible — but go to the Safeway in Reston and it was the best around. They know most people don’t have a choice … so they can but lower quality produce but sell it at top price at the lower customer income stores – where else are they going to shop?

  5. Please avoid anon comments. Inital posts or choose “other” under “Choose an identity”.

  6. GS- if you think that the Giant on Rhode Island is bad, you haven’t been to the Safeway on Benning and Bladensburg. That is truly an experience to be savored in terms of poor produce and crappy service.

    Generally, my experience is that buying produce in the City is something that is best avoided. I generally schlep out to the Virginia suburbs to buy my produce since the selection there is better and the prices are lower.

    —-Anon internet coward—–

  7. Anon Internet Coward….
    much better. I don’t care what you call yourself, call yourself the Queen of England or the Viceroy of Abandoned Black Umbrellas.

    But what do you call crappy service? It has been so long since I have experienced good service from non-commissioned salespeople in this city I barely remember what it is like. Would you like a side of ‘tude with your fries?

  8. I’m not the same anon as the non-anonymouse internet cowards. That aside, crappy service to me is, not enough people working at the store. The last time I went to that safeway was a Saturday afternoon. There were only two registers open and each had about twenty five people in line. The cashier was somewhat surly, although with that many people in line that is to be expected. I don’t think that she said anything to me other than the price and that with a somewhat annoyed tone of voice. Hell, I’m thrilled if I don’t have to engage in chitchat with someone I don’t know, but at least acknowledge my presence.

    I just found that Safeway to be somewhat dingy and with a poor selection in general.

    Formerly the -Anon internet coward-, now the Viceroy of Abandoned Umbrellas. (I represent umbrellas of all colors and shades.)

  9. Have you guys tried Murray’s up on Georgia. It looks like a FANTASTIC place to buy produce. Just driving by it makes me want to take a shower. I am also pretty sure that Bates Market buys its fresh produce from Giant on P St. because I bought a bag of what I thought were plums there the other day and they just turned out to be rotten tomatoes. Left them in the lunch room at work and someone still took ’em though.


  10. Justin,
    Is it possible that one of your coworkers exclaimed, “Perfect, this is just what I need for my experiement, buhwahhhahaha!!!!!!!” Or someone may have just shoved them in the trash. And why the heck you buying produce from Bates?! Come over to G&G, at least stuff won’t jump out from the shadows and getcha.

  11. Unfortunately, I could name several DC grocery stores that are the pits. Safeway at Hechinger Mall is the worst I’ve experienced, but that doesn’t mean it’s the worst in town. My last time at that Safeway, most of the produce bins were empty or nearly so. The little produce available was clearly rotten.

    In spring and summer, I just say no and buy most of my produce at the Brookland farmers’ market.

  12. I was just kidding. But I did have a co-worker once who would leave stale cookies and bad produce out just to see if it would go and it always did. I work at the USDA, I can have all the GMO and 1000 times more potent pesticide-treated produce I want. Why do you think I always have that “glow” about me? Its the chemicals lighting me up.


  13. Although Rhode Island Avenue Giant is bad its, 10 times better than 8th and O Giant. In general however the quality of grocery store (and I have confirmed this with my people in the business) is directly related to the number or percentage of people who drive there. Or can at least buy groceries in quanitites that would fit in cars. Whole Foods of course an exception becuase they make such huge margins on stuf, but for the most part grocery stores have to move volume to be able to spend more on overhead,or upgrades, cleaning freshening up produce nice displays etc. Final note we drove the 3.8 miles to the Teet (stealing that) in VA two nights ago and were shocked when we walked right up to an open cashier at 7:30. Thats easily a 40 minute wait at the 8th and O Giant. And while its more expensive and you can’t walk the trip probably took the same amount of time.

  14. I can’t remember where – I think NYT — but I just read an article debunking the myth that Whole Foods is more expensive. THey pointed out that for a lot of things (cereal, cheese, wine, grains, seafood), their quality and selection is far superior and less than the average price at competitors. I buy a lot of meat there; the chicken is the same price as Giant (and way better) and there’s usually stuff on sale that makes it ccompetitive. Their salad bar is more expensive, their prepared foods are pricey too, and their non-sale produce is definietly more expensive. So if you’re forced to go there for everything, probably more expensive. But as a filler, I find it to be really good. And despite the crowds, at least they don’t have 75% of the registers closed, like the awful 7th Street Giant. And mmmm, lemon Italian soda…..

  15. The Bladensburg Safeway has the BEST pharmacy staff ever. They’re friendly, accurate and politely discreet when you’re picking up embarassing pharmecuticals.

    The Soviet Safeway on 17th St., NW has good staff, but the customer volume is so high most products are picked through like a plague of locusts had just visited. Plus there’s the constant cell phone users in the store. Make a list, but don’t call home to ask your honey what you need.

    I’ve found that if you order produce through Peapod delivery, and have it delivered in the 6-8am slot, it’s always fresh and green. When you get delivered later, I think the constant opening and closing of the truck all day in the heat wilts your greens. Peapod meats and produce have always been good.

  16. Funny… I’ve always thought the Rhode Island Giant (the one in Brentwood, right?) was pretty nice. Better produce than any other big supermarket in the city. The lines can sometimes get long, but the clerks move pretty quickly. Yeah, its not Whole Foods, but sometimes I just want some damn Cheetos, not “Andalusian Root Vegetables Fried in Organic Brazilian Peanut Oil”…

    = JM

  17. I used to just do dual shopping — produce/meats/etc from Whole Paycheck, and then the Cokes and chips and stuff from the 8th and O Giant. I stopped going to 8th and O after the nth time of 20-30 minute checkout lines, and just drove over to the one on Rhode Island, which seemed to be a definite step up from the local one — the checkout lanes were better staffed, even if the produce was still pretty shoddy. Still, since I was just going for the weekly Coke-n-chips run before gaming, it worked out okay.

    When my car got stolen, I walked to the 8th and O and it was a nice walk in good weather. It’s a pity that store was as abysmal as it was.

    Shopping tip for 8th and O: Go on Saturday night, circa 10pm. Everyone’s out clubbing; nobody’s at the store.

  18. I actually drove to the new giant in Columbia Heights thinking it would be good. No such luck. The meat selection was horrible. I left without buying anything and won’t be going back. I am actually looking forward to the Harris Teeter, although I’ve never been in one before.


  19. I actually quite like the Giant on Rhode Island Ave. I find the produce to be pretty good, the store well stocked, and the staff to be friendly and helpful. Where the problems come in is the clash of cultures at the cash registers. You end up with an unwed mother buying hotdogs and chitlins with food stamps, deaf college kids buying coke and cheetos, and me with my hummus and nutella – all converging in the same place at the same time. It’s amazing that this Giant actually carries the food that each of these demographics are shopping for! The hang-ups in line that I’ve experienced were not for lack of staff (most of the check-out stations are open most of the time) but for instances where someone is checking out and discover that their foodstamps don’t cover a particular item, and rather than paying for that particular item in cash or just abondoning it alltogether, they decide to replace it with the similar item that is covered by food stamps meanwhile everyone in line has to sit and wait while this person ventures out into the store to find the right item!

    I also have to give props to Giant for their new line of organic food “Nature’s Promise”. It’s good quality stuff and reasonably priced!

    -Shawn in Brookland

  20. I’d given up on decent produce in DC, until a friend told me about Washington’s Green Grocer. They deliver, the price is better Whole Foods, and there’s still dirt on the potatoes when I pull them out of the box. And the less time I have to spend in the filthy Safeway near my house, the better

  21. Here’s that NYTimes article:

    But I do the same as another poster: I go to the Whole Paycheck (but I’ve long thought that it’s that way if you try to do all of your shopping there, not if you’re just picking up seafood or their superior produce) and go to the Giant in Brentwood – the 8th and O st Giant is awful – to do the rest of my shopping.

    The Brentwood Giant isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t buy much in the way of seafood there. Produce there seems OK to good, and yeah, Nature’s Promise is very nice; glad they’re doing that.


  22. Columbia Heights Giant is normally pretty good although you won’t find jack on a sunday afternoon or at the first of the month (when the food stamps and social security checks go out). The worst part is that I’ve never had anything less than a 30 minute wait and that’s with almost all of the registers open!

  23. I have to jump in on this one. I hate grocery shopping in the city. I live but a short walk from the Columbia Heights Giant and I have shopped in all of the aforementioned stores. The newer stores (Columbia Heights & Brentwood) are way too big for me. And I will echo what others have said about the service and product quality.

    What this city is missing are green grocerers, butchers, cheese shops, wine sellers, etc. My favorite place to shop (excluding cleaning and paper products) is Trader Joes. The stores are chocked full of goodies including seasonal produce. I am able to feed my family of four (this includes children) inexpensive, interesting and often organic food. The stores are small, but I am able to buy most of our staple items in half the time I spend in a Giant or Safeway. Once a month I go to a place like BJs (Costco-like) to buy the paper products or cleaning supplies. We do the chip run equivalent at Giant to buy a certain brand of mustard, Coke or some other odd thing.

    I hope Trader Joes does well in Foggy Bottom and considers expanding east to Columbia Heights or Shaw. They would get $600-800/mo from us.

  24. To me, the Giant at 8th/P is just a big convenience store. I pop in there on a Fri or Sat night every few months if I find myself out of booze. Maybe pick up a 2 liter or something. Its not great, but I’m glad its there, although I don’t really know how the lines can sometimes be that long with a store so small. Poor management, maybe.

    The RI Giant is where we usually shop, & I don’t have any complaints really. Its about the same as the Giants & Safeways we used to shop at in Falls Church (better than the SW on 29, though). Every time we go, they same to have more organic, ethnic & vegetarian stuff, so I think they are adapting to their clientele, & I think that’s good.

    Whole Fools is a staple for unique beer, cheese, etc. We combine grocery shopping w/ other errands, so if we’re in Falls Church, we might go to Shoppers, or if we’re in Bailey’s Crossroads we might go to Trader Joe’s. And of course MOM, when in Alexandria. But we have cars, of course. I think not having one limits you severely around here. The Wegman’s that fell through in Gallery Place would have been nice.

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