I Brave the New Niskayuna ShopRite

Okay, I wasn’t going to write a post about this. It’s only a grocery store, people! I’ve been muttering that and shaking my fist every time I see ShopRite traffic. Which is, like, all the time. But ShopRite is now my closest grocery store after the Niskayuna Co-op, so of course I’m curious. I even wrote a story about it for All Over Albany a while back. So when I needed bread and milk, I figured it was my opportunity to do a scouting mission. And then I couldn’t restrain myself: I had to take a couple of pictures.

Okay, first of all? It’s freaking insane. There are so many people there.  Cars circling the once-deserted parking lot. In fact, I got the only decent parking available:

If only I still had the bike trailer! Because you can only shove so much into a backpack, right? The other thing that struck me? I didn’t see a single person that I knew. Whenever I go to the store I run into friends, neighbors, or misc. acquaintances. Which makes me think that there were a ton of people who are basically bargain tourists.

I didn’t even look at prices. I figured that everybody’s prices are going to be nutty during the big showdown, so it’s not worth my time until things simmer down. And now I have to confess to you that I actually did a huge price comparison chart for myself a few months ago, and I’d planned to share it (because it was a lot of work, so why not?). But I was too depressed to share. Bottom line: Price Chopper most expensive, Hannaford a little cheaper, Wal-Mart waaayy cheaper.  I don’t know how I missed it before, but All Over Albany does an annual pricing showdown, and they’ll be adding ShopRite to the mix in the future. So I don’t have to.

So, I was checking out inventory. I loved the cheese selection, and they had good crackers, too. They had a ton of Applegate Farms products, which are good if you fall into the eats-meat-but-feels-guilty-about-it category, which I do. Oh! And the olive bar!

That was exciting.

But meanwhile, I was getting twitchy. There were so many people, and there were little clusters of people, like the filet mignon groupies, so it was difficult to navigate. Plus, am I the only person who hates that everything organic and “natural” is segregated? I’m sure that it’s convenient for people who’ll only buy from that aisle, but for me, I end up having to run back and forth between the two, comparing. It’s disorienting, but it’s what many supermarkets do.  I’m pretty brand-loyal for a lot of foods. It’s part of the reason why I’m not great with coupons. So I saw plenty of Muir Glen products, but I was somehow unable to find the basic canned tomatoes, which are a staple for me.  And I saw plenty of Cabot cheese, but I didn’t see Cabot butter, which is our clear favorite. But it’s possible that these were around, and I was just getting too disoriented, agoraphobic, and twitchy to stay much longer.

On the bright side, if you’re working with a gluten-free diet, they had a huge selection:

For gluten-free people, it’s worth a drive. And I found my well-loved but difficult-to-find Red Zinger herbal tea. I actually said out loud, “Yeah, baby!” when I saw it. I haven’t seen it in stores in years. Although lately I’ve become a Bengal Spice girl. Ummm, numm, nummm. . . .

Okay, wait! Now I’m distracted, and I have to go make myself tea! So in closing, I’m going to go with. . . pretty good. But I’m reserving full judgement until prices and shoppers settle into normalcy.

Meanwhile, for a more complete, foodie-oriented review, check out the post that Daniel of the Fussy Little Blog wrote for All Over Albany.

Also the TU’s Parent 2 Parent blog (God, I hate it when people say “2” instead of “to”–that’s new, isn’t it?) has a post about ShopRite becoming a teen hangout. There wasn’t much to the little cafe, actually. But of course the kids are hanging out there, because there aren’t too many places to go. They deserve a place, and it would be terrific for the whole community, I think. Coffee and snacks for mamas with little ones in the morning, business folks for lunch, kids all afternoon, families for dinner: yes, please.  Richie & the Fonz had Arnold’s, Brenda & Dylan had the Peach Pit, even Arthur & Buster have that ice cream place that they walk to all by themselves. Can some enterprising business person please open up a family-friendly hangout that doesn’t feel sticky everywhere like the Friendly’s always did? Seriously, people, can someone please get on that?


  1. Cheri

    Thanks for the pictures because each time I try to go in and actually look around, I can’t find a parking spot! Maybe I should park at your house and borrow your bike…

  2. Christine

    We actually just returned from a venture to Shop Rite. I’ve tried to go for the past couple of days, after work, only to find that there wasn’t a single parking space….so I left. Even after 7:30 at night, it was still a zoo, but we found a spot to park and took the plunge. It was an experience. I agree, a real “check it out” trip will have to wait until the chaos subsides! BTW….I love, love, LOVE the Bengal Spice tea! In fact, I think I’ll go have a cup!

  3. Claire

    I went on Tuesday, and I still haven’t recovered. Like you, I don’t enjoy shopping to begin with, and I had a bad cold and had worked till 11 pm the previous evening (which I would strive to repeat again on Tuesday), so I was exhausted. It was so incredibly crowded and overwhelming. There were some great sales, but I missed a few because I couldn’t bear to fight the crowds. I live in Latham, so that will give me a good excuse to not return.

    As far as the pricing comparisons: Price Chopper does tend to be more expensive than Hannaford. However, the really savvy couponers (unlike me) do better at Price Chopper because they have more catalinas, etc.

  4. Cheri-my bike is your bike.
    Christine-I’m making some now!
    Claire-I’m so bad at couponing that I had to Google Catalina to know what you were talking about. I did, however, go claim my free Boursin at Price Chopper today!

  5. Jill

    I’m waiting for things to really simmer down before I check out Shop Rite. I am anxious to check out the gluten free stuff.

  6. Claire

    I’m terrible at couponing, too. Now that my son is in preschool two mornings/week and I have a little extra time on my hands, I feel pressured to learn how to do it. It’s hard for people like us who don’t like to shop. I have to keep reminding myself that I contribute to our family’s finances via my part-time job, so I have to give myself permission to fail at this couponing thing (which I probably will!).

  7. Colleen

    I went also. I thought the floral department was nice, and the bakery had some neat creations- although I wish for once a bakery right near us would offer things for people with special bakery needs (i.e. vegan, gluten-free, nut free). But I agree the gluten-free isle was great! (although I didn’t find a couple of things I buy at Hannaford). My little guy was also THRILLED that they had a crab tank in addition to the lobster tank. We didn’t get to see much else because of the crowd. The employees were very nice. And I also thought it was neat that they had a parking spot for hybrid cars where they can plug in. Also, I am anxious to try out their service where you order and pick up your groceries at the door. I hear it is free while you have to pay for it at PC. All that said, I shopped at Hannaford last night to avoid a crowd and they have a price comparison chart of them, PC and SR and claim they are the cheapest.

  8. Jill–are you avoiding gluten? Didn’t know.
    Claire–I laugh, because I remember feeling that Moral Obligation To Be Useful when I had any free time at all. I did my first grocery comparison chart when I first stayed at home, thinking that I was going to be the most rockin’ SAHM ever–and then I wasn’t.
    Colleen–I didn’t even notice the flowers, but Cheri did the internet order thing and said it went very well.

  9. Claire

    I’ve been really happy with Hannaford’s gluten-free selection, as well as their natural foods selection in general. As far as prices, it seemed to me that some of their items are cheaper and then others at Shoprite are cheaper. It’s a cliche, but in general I think Hannaford’s every day prices are cheaper, but they don’t have great specials. That’s where Shoprite and Price Chopper will have them beat.

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