Image default
Food

Comparing the various corner stores and small groceries

There is a street wisdom that these little urban corner stores jack their prices to take advantage of what is basically a captive audience (or maybe to balance shoplifting loss). I set out to see how much this might be true by comparing prices on a few staples at 10 neighborhood stores across the area.

To set the parameters: I compared prices on 4 items (1/2 gallon of whole milk, a loaf of bread, a box of Cheerios, can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Sou) at 10 stores across the area. My assumption was that each place would have these items, or something comparable . I also took notes on the general feel of the places, and what other aspects differentiated them (good or bad).

I’ve always kind of lumped together the little stores that dot the neighborhood, but in getting inside this subset of the 20 or 30 that serve the area, it became clear that there is a vast qualitative difference between the best and worst of them. The main difference isn’t necessarily pricing, though, but the selection offered of goods offered and environment of the store.

[sep]

Comparing the various corner stores and small groceries. Click to view larger.
Comparing the various corner stores and small groceries. Click to view larger.

NOTE: The originally published graphic had the price of regular milk incorrect for Union Market at $2.99.

For reference above, the Virginia State Milk Commission reports that the average statewide price for a 1/2 gallon of whole milk in October 2014 was $2.60, with a range of $1.99-$3.24.

The Market on Main Street sells a 1/2 gallon of milk for $2.39, generic bread for $1.00, Cheerios for $3.99 (12 oz), and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup for $1.19.

[sep]

A funny thing is, the bulk of the “corner stores” are actually on corners. These are usually the smallest of the bunch and are essentially convenience stores – quickie marts slinging beer and chips and candy and lottery tickets. Night & Day, Clay Street Market, Ocean Grocery, Blue Wheeler, and Mari’s Mini Mart all fall into this category, with 2 or 3 rows of goods and walls of coolers. Still, some of these stores are better/worse than others.

Blue Wheeler on Marshall Street, Mari’s Mini Mart on Q Street, and the Ocean Grocery at 25th & Venable are poor examples of markets. In all 3, the majority of the dry goods for sale did not have prices marked, and they had extremely limited selections of goods (even for small stores). What they did offer, though, was priced in line with the other stores in the area. They are basically easy places to stop for cigarettes, beer, and chips/sugar.

Clay Street Market is a cut above. Their weekly delivery of fresh, local produce from Tricycle Gardens is something that each of these stores should be trying to get in on.

Another store worthy of mention is Union Market, though they are a difficult comparison. Their selection of specialty items, including organic, local, and gluten free are unavailable anywhere else in the area, and they offer a selection of every day produce.

The best of the small stores surveyed is the Stop & Go at Mechanicsville and Fairfield. The Stop & Go has a wide array of dry goods, including a broad selection of canned food and useful cold-weather clothing, with all of the prices clearly marked and competitive in each category. This was also one of the stores with no loitering on the sidewalk out front.

Head and shoulders above all of the neighborhood markets, though, is Chimbo on Chimborazo Boulevard. Taking advantage of it’s larger size, Chimbo is an actual working grocery store with a selection of items and produce unmatched by any other store in the area excepting the Market on Main Street. The store has a stellar produce section, meats, dry goods in a variety of sizes and brands, a security guard, checkout lines, carts, parking, and is clean. You can feed a family by shopping at Chimbo. In addition, their prices are among the best in the neighborhood – better than the Market on Main Street at times.

[sep]

Part of the produce section at Chimbo
Part of the produce section at Chimbo

Related posts

Patio open at Union Market

Church Hill People's News

Union Market is back!

Church Hill People's News
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

44 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
KimboCompton
KimboCompton
5 years ago

RT @chpn: Comparing the various corner stores and small groceries http://t.co/UhN4sUJqy1

Beth Hungate-Noland
Beth Hungate-Noland
5 years ago

Beth Hungate-Noland liked this on Facebook.

ModernJT
ModernJT
5 years ago

Part of why I LOVE my ‘hood. Ppl who care this much RT @chpn: Comparing the various corner stores and small groceries http://t.co/g28BLbh402

RichmondGL
RichmondGL
5 years ago

RT @jmurden: I recently went into a bunch of corner stores and took notes http://t.co/zSBO7JKsuc

Nikola Zaharakis
Nikola Zaharakis
5 years ago

Nikola Zaharakis liked this on Facebook.

Melissa Ansley Brooks
Melissa Ansley Brooks
5 years ago

Melissa Ansley Brooks liked this on Facebook.

Heather Lewis
Heather Lewis
5 years ago

Heather Lewis liked this on Facebook.

Michael Jones
Michael Jones
5 years ago

Michael Jones liked this on Facebook.

ann
ann
5 years ago

I DO like Chimbo! Thanks for this breakdown, John.

Alvin Saunders
Alvin Saunders
5 years ago

Alvin Saunders liked this on Facebook.

Bonnie Boaz
Bonnie Boaz
5 years ago

Bonnie Boaz liked this on Facebook.

Martha Wingfield
Martha Wingfield
5 years ago

Martha Wingfield liked this on Facebook.

Cati Grape
Cati Grape
5 years ago

Cati Grape liked this on Facebook.

Erin Wall
Erin Wall
5 years ago

Erin Wall liked this on Facebook.

tbw
tbw
5 years ago

Thank you John. This is fantastic! The geek in me loves the data. And it helps people understand the state of food access in our neighborhood

Elaine Odell
Elaine Odell
5 years ago

For local, organic produce, the Get Fresh/Tricycle Garden stores (including Clay St Mkt) are a blessing. But, don’t forget the Union Market for a terrific selection of in-season, organic produce sourced from Virginia farms. Lately, the local apples have been especially awesome! Enjoy em while they’re still available!

BAF
BAF
5 years ago

John, you have Food Circus in the chart but no elaboration in your narrative unless I totally missed it. What’s it like?

Tommy Waterworth
Tommy Waterworth
5 years ago

Man, That’s some empirical data right there. I feel compelled to call out that we’re really comparing apples to oranges here. There’s virtually no comparison FOR CHIMBO and Union Market stands alone in its high end offerings and crushes the competition in regards to prepared food and beer selection.

Emily Klinedinst
Emily Klinedinst
5 years ago

I’ve been pleased with Crenshaw’s as a corner grocery.

Church Hill People's News
Church Hill People's News
5 years ago

Tommy – Very true. That, the delivery, welcoming environment, and produce earned Union Market their score compared to the other markets of similar size. Not sure why their cereal or soup has to be priced like one of the sketch markets.

Church Hill People's News
Church Hill People's News
5 years ago

Emily – I though about including them, and the grocery at Cool Lane, but ran out time.

If you’d wanna go by and get the comperable prices and post back, that’d be awesome.

Barbara Altieri
Barbara Altieri
5 years ago

Barbara Altieri liked this on Facebook.

Mona Youssofi
Mona Youssofi
5 years ago

Mona Youssofi liked this on Facebook.

Jeb Wash
Jeb Wash
5 years ago

Blue Wheeler is convenient but don’t go there looking for healthy food. And if you purchase milk from there, make sure that you look at the expiration date.

Emily Klinedinst
Emily Klinedinst
5 years ago

I’d love to! Don’t know if I’ll have time today since I’m getting ready for company, but soon. They’re also just really nice friendly people in non quantifiable ways, too 🙂 Miz Flo always remembers my name and what cigarettes I want.

REALRICHMONDVA
REALRICHMONDVA
5 years ago

RT @jmurden: I recently went into a bunch of corner stores and took notes http://t.co/zSBO7JKsuc

Ginny
Ginny
5 years ago

Blue wheeler does usually carry chicken noodle and will stock items by request too.

Susan Park
Susan Park
5 years ago

Susan Park liked this on Facebook.

tiny
tiny
5 years ago

I don’t think the corner stores are trying to be anything more than a convenience store. It’s like comparing 7/11 to food lion in a way.

Emily Klinedinst
Emily Klinedinst
5 years ago

Reporting in from Peter Paul! (Crenshaw’s)
1/2 gal. 2% milk: 2.99
Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup: 1.49
Bread:
1.49 Farm Fresh white
2.49 Wonder
2.99 Nature’s Own Honey Wheat
No cereal.

1 12-pack cans Miller High Life, The Champagne of Beers + 1 pack Maverick cigarettes (reds) = 13.20 including tax.

Stephanie Ganz
Stephanie Ganz
5 years ago

Stephanie Ganz liked this on Facebook.

Shannon Campbell Ward
Shannon Campbell Ward
5 years ago

Shannon Campbell Ward liked this on Facebook.

Kathy Greenier
Kathy Greenier
5 years ago

Kathy Greenier liked this on Facebook.

Nancy Chaplin
Nancy Chaplin
5 years ago

I like Chimbo and appreciate the info. No mention or inclusion that Urban Farmhouse has a market – expensive but welcome to organic and local. I was disappointed when they switched most of their inventory to wine, how ever. Any comments on the UFC?

Lianna Woods
Lianna Woods
5 years ago

Lianna Woods liked this on Facebook.

The 424
The 424
5 years ago

We’re big fans of the Chimbo, but I wish they had some swag. I’d love a CHIMBO t-shirt!

Tyler Brown
Tyler Brown
5 years ago

I believe Chimbo also offers customers a ride back to their house (with their groceries)

Barb Mccormick
Barb Mccormick
5 years ago

Barb Mccormick liked this on Facebook.

Ayana Obika
Ayana Obika
5 years ago

Ayana Obika liked this on Facebook.

Emily Klinedinst
Emily Klinedinst
5 years ago

^So, pretty typical.
I’m there at least three times a week. Even though the “Church Hill Supermarket” a few blocks south of it has a larger selection (because they have a larger space) I don’t go there unless I have to. Crenshaw’s is just … nicer.

Rita Justice Austera
Rita Justice Austera
5 years ago

#19: that’s awesome Chimbo offers a ride home. My shopping buggy is not always welcomed on a full bus.

Rita Justice Austera
Rita Justice Austera
5 years ago

I’vebeen in the Night & Day a few times for cat food..yes’ my cats have me well trained. It has a freshed cooked take-away in the back..haven’t tried that yet. It can be a little dodgey but feel reasonably safe as I travel there on foot.

Union Market
Union Market
5 years ago

Great info and thanks for the review! We do our best to fulfill product requests from customers and always aim to keep our prices competitive. Unfortunately, on certain products we just don’t have the buying power to get the best prices, but would still like to make those items available to our customers. As we head into our second year, we will continue to expand and hone our product selection while trying to find the best prices for our customers. We truly appreciate all of the support from the neighborhood and beyond over the past year. We wouldn’t be here… Read more »

44
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x