Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fresh or frozen? And from where?

Fairway MarketImage via Wikipedia

The latest sales flier from Fairway Market in Paramus is filled with a lot of information -- some of it totally useless. And when the flier raises questions, it doesn't always answer them.

For example, the flier that came in the paper today offers wild-caught salmon for $9.99 a pound. However, shoppers can't tell where the fish is from and whether it is fresh or had been frozen, or even what kind of salmon it is (king, sockeye and so forth). The flier is silent on these questions.

This also is the case with the prime beef that is on sale frequently at the Paramus store (rib steak is $8.99 a pound). Prime is the highest of three USDA grades, but merely denotes the fattiest beef. There are no details in the flier on how the cattle were raised and what they were fed, so it's likely they were raised conventionally with antibiotics, growth hormones and animal byproducts while confined to feed pens.

One good buy is two pounds of Sunset-brand, herbicide-free Campari tomatoes for $4 -- about a dollar less than Costco's price for the same tomatoes. Another consistently good buy is the weekly, freshly roasted coffee selection for $4.99 a pound. The sale starts Friday.

Fairway's flier is filled with photos of the baker, butcher, cheese monger, coffee roaster, organics director and even the rabbi that certifies kosher meat. Two employees appear on the same page with their chins resting in their hands. How cute. What is the shopper to conclude? Do they stand behind the quality of the food they sell? Can you take any item back for a refund, as you can at Costco and Whole Foods Market? The flier doesn't say.

The flier trumpets: "The World's Greatest Food Store." I don't think so.
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  1. I put it to you that the majority of Fairway shoppers don't give a hoot about antibiotics or hormones and whatever byproducts their $8.99 ribeyes munch on, they mainly care about price and flavor. And its snooty shoppers will pay that extra couple of bucks for wild caught salmon whether it's sockeye or cohoe, although they might balk at ribeye salmon, but there's really no point in explicating further in their flyer. In fact, that might alienate some shoppers. I think it's safe to assume if they don't say it's sockeye, it probably isn't sockeye, especially if wild caught sockeye normally costs more than wild caught other types of salmon. Because if it was more of a value they'd say it.

    Fairway may or may not be the "greatest market on earth," but it's better than Whole Foods and has more stuff than Trader Joe. And I say that because I'm one of those snooty Fairway shoppers, and not because two years ago, in exchange for a couple pounds of nova or the equivalent thereof, I swore on a stack of bibles that I'd never say a disparaging word about Fairway, a point of which I have recently been reminded.

  2. Maybe Fairway should run a special flyer for just the Paramus store. They can decorate the flyer with pictures of the rude, unhelpful and lack of personality-having employees that work at the store.


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