Author Archives: bganey

New Grocery Store in West Ashley….What Is it? (Update: It’s a Harris Teeter)

 

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According to Abigail Darlington of the Charleston Post and Courier (who unfortunately does not answer her e-mail,) a new grocery store is opening up in the Westwood Plaza on Sam Rittenberg Blvd.

But what is it? (Update: Thanks to Live 5 News, it’s been disclosed that it’s a Harris Teeter.)

The company that owns the shopping center won’t say until the ink is dry on the lease, so we have to guess.  Let’s consider:

Publix. There’s one just up the street. Not that.

Bi-Lo. Same thing. Just up the street. Not a Bi-Lo.

Food Lion. There’s a Food Lion just down the road by Costco. Highly doubtful it’s them.

Piggly Wiggly. They’ve been selling and closing stores, not opening new ones. Unlikely.

That leaves 2 very expansion-minded retailers:

Harris Teeter. The Kroger Corporation’s wholly-owned subsidiary has been buying up stores and opening new ones for the last year or so. The nearest Harris Teeter is over on Savannah Highway a good distance away. There is another location scheduled to be built up by the Wal-Mart on Bees Ferry Road. It very well could be Harris Teeter.

Walmart Neighborhood Market. Or not. It also could be Walmart. They are expanding very aggressively into the Charleston market, with locations already planned in Goose Creek, Summerville and Mt. Pleasant. I’m almost putting my money on it being a Walmart. There are just already so many Harris Teeters.

What do you think it is? Sound off in the comments below.

Rip-Off Report: Gallon of Milk at Walmart

On tax-free weekend here in South Carolina, I found myself shopping at both Sam’s Club and Walmart in North Charleston on Centre Pointe Drive.

I was at Walmart purchasing my usual stuff when I decided I needed a gallon of milk. I go back to the dairy case and much to my astonishment, the price of a Great Value brand gallon of milk was an outrageous $4.35 a gallon.

Rip-Off Milk Pricing

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT?!?!?

I put it back and did not buy.  Instead, I went next door to Sam’s Club, where the price of the same gallon of milk was a much more reasonable $3.02 a gallon.  Here’s my question: why the pricing discrepancy?  Both stores are owned by the same company.  One is a membership warehouse – I get that – but a 30% price difference?

Why?

Here comes Walmart again

The biggest opportunity in the Charleston area for grocery shopping is the lack of competition.  Sure, there are lots of stores. But there’s not someone challenging these old-line, neighborhood stores like Food Lion, Bi-Lo and Piggly Wiggly. These are stores that are conveniently located, but have no real competition.

They survive generally because they’re the only store in a given area. People just go there because they always have.  They go out of habit. Because there is nothing else in that immediate area.

That’s about to change.

Walmart has been seeing a lack of growth in their Supercenter stores and it’s easy to see why. These are enormous stores and shopping at them is a time-consuming task. They are crowded. They are filled with the lowest common denominator of society.  It takes a long time to park in a huge parking lot and go into a Walmart Supercenter.  If you just need to grab a few things, it really isn’t an option that makes a lot of sense.

So Walmart is branching out.  Since 1998, they have been building what they call “Neighborhood Markets.”  These are smaller stores, about 1/4 the size of a Supercenter. I have been in Neighborhood Market stores in other cities and they are fantastic.  Here’s a great write-up and review of a location that opened awhile back in North Carolina.

Walmart Neighborhood Markets are already open elsewhere in South Carolina. There is one that opened this year in Myrtle Beach as well as several in the Upstate. As of right now, I am aware of 3 that are in the planning stages for the Charleston market:

St. James Avenue in Goose Creek

Bacon’s Bridge and Dorchester Road in Summerville

Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant. This isn’t officially announced as a Neighborhood Market location, but the local HOA says it is and I believe them. The developer is still trying to get their plan approved.

I know, I know…Walmart is the great Satan, right? The destroyer of small business.  The evil ruiner of all that is good and right in the world. Low wages, etc.

I don’t care about any of that and you shouldn’t either.  The bottom line is this: as long as Walmart isn’t breaking any laws, they should be welcomed with open arms.  And here is why: the Charleston grocery shopping market is crying out for competition because we don’t really have any.  Bi-Lo, Food Lion, Piggly Wiggly, Harris Teeter and Publix all have a stranglehold on their locations and client base.  There is no one to *really* give them a run for their money.

We need these neighborhood markets.  I’m particularly excited about the one in Goose Creek, since it is the closest one to me.  it will set up shop across the street from Bi-Lo and Publix.  I can’t wait to shop there.

The Grocery Options in Charleston, SC

So what are the options for grocery shopping around here?  I break it down like this.  You have the following national chains:

There are 9 Walmart Supercenters in the Charleston, SC market.  1 Sam’s Club.  1 Costco.  1 Trader Joe’s. 1 Whole Foods.  4 Target stores with groceries.

Next you have the following regional chains: 14 Harris Teeter locations (now owned by Kroger) and 12 Publix stores.  1 Earth Fare.

And finally, the bottom of the barrel: 20 Bi-Lo locations, 15 Food Lion stores, 6 Piggly Wiggly supermarkets and 3 Save-A-Lot stores.  Stepping into any of these stores is like taking a trip back in time to grocery merchandising in 1975. Dated store interiors, unimpressive produce, high prices and expired dairy products are the norm.

So what on Earth is a person to do?  Where should you shop? How can someone trying to eat healthy on a budget survive?

It can be done.  Keep reading.

Welcome to The Charleston Grocery Blog

In the last 4+ years, I have managed to lose almost 400 pounds on my own through diet and exercise. This isn’t easy…and requires a lot of shopping, cooking and eating.  Since I do not eat out in restaurants, I prepare every meal I eat.

I spend hundreds of dollars a month and hours at a time grocery shopping. You know what? It’s all worth it.  I have become very good at it and have accumulated a wealth of knowledge about the stores and groceries available in the city where I live, Charleston, SC.

Enter the blog idea.

I moved to Charleston (or as everyone but the people who live here call it: “The Lowcountry”) 9 years ago.  Compared to up North, the grocery shopping options sucked.  The people who live here and don’t travel have no idea what they’re missing.  There is no Meijer. No Kroger. No Wegmans. And on and on. What’s your favorite grocery store? Trust me, it isn’t here.

But things have gotten better. A whole lot better. I have been doing this long enough to become an expert on grocery shopping. So I have decided to share this knowledge with the Internet. After all, why should all of this expertise go to waste?