Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sticker shock is everywhere on rare visit to Fairway Market in Paramus

I'm not ready to pay $31.99 at Fairway Market  in Paramus for a pound of lobster meat -- a price equivalent of four live lobsters. Are you?


I became a big fan of Fairway Market's Harlem store, which was a convenient place to shop every time I returned to my New Jersey home from visiting Manhattan.

My favorites included Fairway's extra-virgin olive oil, pasta sauces, store-roasted coffee beans and loose mesclun salad mix, which I stuffed into a plastic bag.

When Fairway opened in the out-of-the-way Fashion Center in Paramus in May 2009 -- after years of delay -- I started going there for custom-ground coffee beans, pasta sauce and other items, but the store didn't carry the goat meat that was available in Harlem.

I was puzzled that Fairway picked what is arguably the least popular shopping center in Paramus; the owners must have gotten a great deal on the rent.

And my wife told me she preferred the taste of ShopRite's antibiotic-free Readington Farms chicken to the naturally raised Murray's birds at Fairway.

I started going there less and less, and not at all after I discovered the superior coffee beans available at Starbucks.

I realized I could get just about everything else I need at Costco Wholesale, H Mart, ShopRite and other stores, often at much better prices.

And I didn't have to deal with Fairway's superior New York attitude.

Rotisserie chickens at Fairway Market in Paramus, above, cost more than at Whole Foods Market, also in Paramus, below.

Two rotisserie chickens at Whole Foods work out to about $7.50 each. Organic birds are $12.99 each.

New to me at Fairway are hot and cold food bars, like those Whole Foods Market has had since it opened. The prepared food costs $7.99 a pound. At an olive bar, you'll pay $8.99 a pound. I'm happy with the mixed Italian olives with whole garlic cloves I buy for $3.99 a pound at Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood.

Fishmonger: Clean shrimp yourself

On Friday, after visiting a friend who lives in Paramus, I decided to go to Fairway in search of wild-caught shrimp.

Fairway has a great seafood department, and sure enough I saw jumbo Gulf shrimp for $17.99 a pound (16-20 per pound).

That was a little high, but thought if the store deveined them for me, a job I hate, I would get a couple of pounds. 

But when I asked, the fishmonger just shook his head back and forth in a definite "no."

I moved on to the meat department, and asked if the store now carried goat meat. I was in luck.

I was told I could find packages of cut-up goat meat on the refrigerated shelves with chicken and other poultry and meat.

The previously frozen goat meat was $5.49 a pound, and I bought three packages for a total of $25.58.

Whole-wheat pasta

After a picked up the goat meat, I went looking for the whole-wheat pasta I saw in another shopper's cart, stopping for free samples of bread with extra-virgin olive oil and an intense pesto.

The rich pesto came in a 16-ounce bottle, but was about twice the price per ounce of the 22-ounce jar of Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto from Costco.

Fairway carries several brands of whole-wheat pappardelle, penne, spaghetti and other shapes, including Garofalo from Italy.

But all of them were more expensive than the organic and conventional whole-wheat pasta I buy at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, ShopRite and Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood.

Organic spring mix

Fairway also has a great produce department, but a 1-pound package of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix was $6.99, compared to $4.99 or less at my Hackensack Costco.

I saw a sign for bunches of peppery arugula for $1.49 each, but when I grabbed one, it was small, about 3 ounces; that works out to a pricey $6 a pound. I passed.

Fairway also refuses to reimburse shoppers for bringing reusable bags, unlike Whole Foods and ShopRite.

Thanks, Fairway, but no thanks. You should have stayed in New York.


  1. What makes fairway out of the way? It's 6.2 miles from your house.

    1. Costco is 2 miles; ShopRite, H Mart and Whole Foods are a lot closer than Fairway, and nicer places to shop.

      You sound like a stalker.


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