Sunday, August 21, 2011

ShopRite or ShopWrong?

Premiere of “Kimchi Chronicles"Image by KOREA.NET - Official page of the Republic of Korea via Flickr
Marja Vongerichten, center, at the premiere of "Kimchi Chronicles."

Not all ShopRites are created equal and some are trying to get by on low prices alone.

Customer service varies at ShopRite supermarkets in North Jersey -- from responsive to indifferent.

The ShopRite in Hackensack is closest to my home, and the one I often go to when I need to pick up a few things I can't  find at Costco Wholesale, where I buy most of my food.

On Friday, I stopped in for lactose-free milk, coffee filters and ShopRite Pure Instant Tea.

As usual, the store was out of organic lactose-free milk, not that it's a bargain at $4.99 for a half-gallon. Nearby, I found Lactaid 100% lactose-free 2% milk under a sign that said $4.19.

It rang up at $4.09, plus another 60 cents off, compared to $3.19 for Target's store brand of conventional lactose-free milk.

I found three displays of ShopRite No. 2 cone coffee filters, but all three price signs were missing, meaning I had to take one to the customer service counter to scan it. 

It was $2.99 for 100 filters, so I bought 100 Melita No. 2 brown filters, on sale for $3.

Treasure hunt

The woman at customer service had never heard of ShopRite's Pure Instant Tea, a black-tea powder that makes great iced tea with cold water ($2.49).

She called someone, and he told her I would find it in Aisle 5 (coffee, tea, filters), where I had already looked.

After more searching, I found the jar in Aisle 4, but when I went back to customer service to tell her, I was told she was on a break. From what, giving customers the wrong information? 

On Friday night, I drove to Palisades Park for a Korean soft-tofu-stew dinner and on the way home, stopped at the ShopRite, looking for Jersey peaches.

All the store carried were peaches from South Carolina. Some of the apples looked bruised and unappetizing. I bought bananas for 49 cents a pound and beat a hasty retreat.

Jersey peaches and corn

The next day, I went to a Jersey wine festival at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, but after less than an hour, gave up fighting others for a sip or two of wine from each of 10 wineries, and went into the farm store.

I found my Jersey peaches, which turned fragrant after a night on my kitchen counter ($3.59 for a quart), and fat, heavy ears of farm-grown bi-color corn (three for $1.59).

I steamed the corn for about 4 minutes, and ate the first two with a sprinkling of salt and the last one with nothing. They were sweet and wonderful, one of my favorite summer flavors.

Marja at H Mart

Korean-American Marja Vongerichten, star of the continuing PBS series "Kimchi Chronicles" and wife of Chef Jean-Georges, signed their book and greeted shoppers this afternoon at H Mart in Ridgefield.

After I said hello to her and praised the series, I walked around the biggest of the Korean chain's supermarkets in Bergen County, sampling tofu, cold noodles, rice in curry sauce and flavored yogurt drink. 


  1. You've heard of belling the cat? One of these days ShopRite is going to bell the Victory. Ding! Ding! Ding! "Here he comes guys! Hide the organic lactose intolerant milk, take down that farm-raised in Indonesia sign from over the salmon and put up the "genuine wild caught sockeye" sign and triple the price, put some jars of aleppo pepper where he can see them and put an "out of order" sign on the customer service booth."

  2. Some ShopRites seriously have to get their acts together.

  3. I have noticed the disparity in customer service at different ShopRite locations myself, some of them are downright rude. The store itself isn't what it once was. That being said it is probably the king of supermarket chains in North Jersey.

  4. I agree.

    ShopRite was the first chain in North Jersey to market antibiotic-free chicken at a lower price than organic, and is the only one to sell naturally raised Nature's Reserve beef from Australia.

    It's not as strong in seafood, though its live lobster prices are usually the lowest, and I recently bought soft-shell crabs there I was happy with.

    The produce still is a problem, though you can get some good stuff in some of the stores.

    I also like its imported items, most from Spain and Italy.

  5. I'll bet those soft shell crabs weren't very happy.

  6. Long before I saw them cooling their claws on ice.

  7. Overheard in the ShopRite on River Street:
    Customer Service rep to store employee: Ding! Ding! Ding! Here comes Victor. Quick, take the rubber bands off the lobsters' claws!


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