If you had asked me “What’s the best supermarket?” when I was living in London, I would give you two answers: Waitrose (quality) and ASDA (value). Now that I’m back in Southern California, it’s irrelevant. So one must decide in their lifetime (preferably now) what’s a good supermarket. In Southern California, you’ve got the big three: Albertson’s (owned by SuperValu), Ralphs (owned by Kroger) and Vons (owned by Safeway). Then you’ve got the bit players like Fresh & Easy and Stater Bros. So what’s the best supermarket in Southern California? First, I’ll tell you the worst supermarket in Southern California.
Worst Supermarket in Southern California: Ralphs
Why am I hatin’ on Ralphs? It’s hard to arbitrarily hate a supermarket, but I have grown to hate Ralphs. First, the prices are astronomical. A gallon of milk at Ralphs costs about 50 cents more than other supermarkets in the area. Second, their store brands are of sub-par quality and not worth the price. Don’t get me started with their stick-figure mascots:
Who did Kroger trust to run Ralphs marketing campaign? Some no-name elementary school? Amateurs.
…and now for the moment you’ve been waiting for. The best supermarket in Southern California is…
IT’S A TIE! Fresh & Easy and Vons
Why did I choose two supermarkets as opposed to one? Both have strong qualities that I like in a supermarket. Fresh & Easy has good value at almost excellent quality, especially their ready meals, which they blow all competitors away (even Trader Joes). If a supermarket’s got awesome ready meals like Tikka Masala and Jambalaya rice, then you’ve definitely won my heart. Vons products have excellent quality, especially in its dairy (Lucerne brand) and store-brand products. I give Vons a commendation for its O Organics label for being a more reasonably-priced organics brand. Did I forget to mention their store layout rocks?
I’m sure you want to know if I’ve got any reservations on these choices. Of course I do. Fresh & Easy doesn’t promote itself as much as it should, relying on word of mouth and Tuesday inserts. Mind you that Fresh & Easy is owned by Tesco, one of the world’s largest retailers (in some cases, second to Walmart), so they need to make a good effort to spread the brand. In addition, Fresh & Easy should keep their aisles stocked more often and add just a little bit more products. Just a little bit. As for Vons, their prices are a bit expensive for a mainstream supermarket and they should have more locations (the one in my city closed recently, but they haven’t renovated the location in years).
There you have it. Do you think I’m justified in these conclusions? Am I too harsh on Ralphs? Let me know in the comments.