A Mixed Bag
Jan 07, 2015 04:38PM ● Published by Dia
By Catherine Adcock
By February, Southlake and surrounding towns will be home to a virtual cornucopia of specialty and natural foods grocers—Central Market, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, The Fresh Market and Sprouts. You might be tempted to think they’re all the same, but like siblings, each one has its own traits and quirks. Lucky for you, we shop each store regularly, and we’re here to help sort out the kale from the chard in this increasingly competitive field.
Sprouts Farmer’s Market — Southlake
The Gist: The fastest-growing grocery chain in the United States combines the value and feel of a farmer’s market with the added convenience of traditional grocery-store aisles.
Best To Shop When: You recently crunched the numbers and couldn’t believe the staggering amount of money you spend on food. It’s time to cut costs, and you want a healthy, down-to-earth and friendly place to do so.
Sprouts Says: “What’s unique about Sprouts is that we’re positioned at the intersection of health and value,” Donna Egan, Sprout’s director of communications, told us. “For years, healthy food has been largely unaffordable for the average grocery shopper. What Sprouts has done is offered everyday low pricing on those fresh, natural and organic items.”
Did You Know? Sprouts is known for its produce, and prides itself on heavily sourcing from local farms, perhaps one of the reasons it keeps prices lower than competitors.
Special Tip: For the gluten-intolerant, Sprouts gathers all the gluten-free products into one section, rather than spreading them through the store.
Don’t Miss: Visit the Old-Tyme Butcher Shop, where real butchers will help you find the best cuts of meat—and don’t miss the over 20 varieties of in-store hand-ground sausages.
Can’t Live Without: The Bulk-Foods Section. It’s not just about value in this expansive section of self-serve bins; it’s about variety—with bins for everything from gummy candies and dried fruit to quinoa and flax seed. And there’s something about measuring out your own food—and the lack of extra packaging—that makes you feel better about the purchase.
Whole Foods Market — Colleyville
The Gist: Founded in Austin in 1980, Whole Foods came to Colleyville in July 2014. The store is considered to be the final word on what healthy and sustainable means and drives eco-friendly standards in the industry.
Best To Shop When: You’re finally ready to treat your body as the temple that it is while still honoring your taste buds—and when you really want to know exactly where your salmon came from.
Whole Foods says: “The overarching theme about Whole Foods Market that makes us different than ordinary grocers is that element of choice,” says Dennis Berryman, Store Team Leader. “We started a produce-rating program and animal-welfare rating system in our meat department. Even our cleaners have a rating system. For people for whom the eco-system is important, or for people who are are concerned about what’s in the food, it’s their choice. We don’t tell shoppers what to buy, but we want to offer that choice.”
Did You Know? Want to get on the health-food train, but don’t feel like you can afford the ticket? Be sure to check out the value tour at the store (or take a virtual value tour online), keep an eye out for their weekend sales and pick up the store’s bi-monthly value book for extra savings.
Special Tip: Whole Foods definitely goes the extra mile when it comes to convenience. Don’t want to spend your time wandering the aisles? Call the concierge desk to have the shopping done for you for a nominal charge. Need to get some shopping done sans kiddos? Head to Whole Foods at 11 a.m. on Monday during story time. The kiddoes will be entertained with a reading and a snack, while you knock out your grocery list in record time.
Don’t Miss: The soon-to-be certified Neopolitan Pizza Oven, which cooks pizzas at 900 degrees in 90 seconds. Each pizza is built to exacting standards set by the experts in Naples, and the pizza bakers are specially trained. Kids will love the wonder of a fast-food style pizza, and you can revel in all of its delicious flavors.
Can’t Live Without: The BBQ Bar. We regularly walk right past the gourmet salad bars and delicious ready-to-eat concoctions for what is, possibly, the most wonderful thing we’ve ever found in a grocery store—a place where we can fill our lunch pail up with mouth-watering ribs, brisket and sausage.
Central Market — Southlake
The Gist: This Texas-grown H-E-B offshoot provides everything that home chef could possibly need inside a traditional grocery store.
Best To Shop When: You’re ready to get out of your rut of a dinner routine, or you simply want to wow your next dinner guest with newfound culinary prowess—Central Market has your back with inspiration, information and ingredients.
Central Market Says: “Here in Southlake, we are a neighborhood grocery store,” says Heather Senter, public relations representative for Central Market. “People come here for their staples, but we’re dedicated to helping customers in being cooks. If an ingredient appears in a recipe, we’re going to have it.”
Did You Know? Central Market delivers on variety, ensuring the home chef will have plenty of options. If you haven’t’ experienced the Central Market cheese aisle, be prepared for an overwhelming selection of more than 400 varieties. That’s to say nothing of the 20 varieties of shrimp, 255 types of pepper and dozens of varieties of apples, just to name a few.
Special Tip: Tired of trips to more than one grocery store? Here you’ll find a selection of traditional grocery store staples in addition to the specialty products.
Don’t Miss: All the home-town paraphernalia, including an outdoor playground for with a Green Dragon, and of course, the sweet and tart Green Dragon apple available in the produce section.
Can’t Live Without: Love Dip, available in the dip bar. The recipe of herbs that go into this creamy dip is kept hush-hush and for good reason—love never tasted so good.
Trader Joe’s – Opens in Southlake in Feb. 20
The Gist: This California born chain prides itself on offering high-quality gourmet and specialty goods you can’t find anywhere else—at low prices around.
Best To Shop When: You want to cheat on your go-to meals and snacks, but don’t want to feel guilty about it. With low-prices, a curated selection of delicious goods, and even a “Reduced Guilt” line of low-cal items, Trader Joe’s has you covered.
Trader Joe’s Says: “When we were founded, we started packaging innovative, hard-to-find, great-tasting foods under the ‘Trader Joe’s’ name. That cut our costs and saved you money. Still does. And that’s important, because ‘value’ is a concept we take very seriously,” says Trader Joe’s Website (Trader Joes does not comment on store openings and declined an interview).
Did You Know? Looking for something specific? If you see something that looks suspiciously similar to your favorite name-brand item, chances are it is, in fact, that name-brand item, from the same source, but with Trader Joe’s packaging.
Special Tip: Don’t get turned off by Trader Joe’s small foot-print. What it lacks in space, it makes up for the highest amount of must-haves per square foot that we’ve ever seen. Be prepared to stock up on snacks and finger foods that you never knew existed—and had no idea how much you needed—like Cookie Butter, Almond Cocoa, Pirate’s Booty and more.
Don’t Miss: Famous for its low prices on high-quality vino, Trader Joe’s provides an excellent selection of tasty local and imported beers as well. Whatever your poison, you’re likely to find a new favorite (or three).
Can’t Live Without: Trader Joe’s Reduced-Guilt Greek Yogurt Spinach Kale dip. At 40 calories a serving, never has something that tasted so unhealthy been so good for you.
The Fresh Market — Opens in Southlake Jan. 14
The Gist: Opening Jan. 14 in Southlake, this North Carolina–born store combines high-quality and specialty goods with every amenity taken care of—all served up with healthy slice of Southern Hospitality
Best To Shop When: You’ve got a dull headache from rushing through the day, and a grocery store trip is sure to trigger a migraine. The Fresh Market’s abundant amenities, soft classical music and beautiful displays (we dare you to find an overripe piece of produce) will sooth your senses.
The Fresh Market Says: “We define ourselves as a gourmet specialty market with a focus on high quality products and customer service,” says Rachel Booker, Fresh Market new store hire coordinator. “Our stores are smaller in size. We have dimmed lights, classical music, beautiful floors and coffee samples all-day. Our stores focus more on interaction. You feel like you’ve walked into grandma’s house, and you know us, and we know you. It’s not like you walk in the store and can’t see the end of it. “
Did You Know? While you might not find the largest selection of any given item at The Fresh Market, what you will find is products of the highest quality, and a focus on locally and regionally sourced products. Be on the lookout for special tags noting products that originated within 100 miles and 300 miles of Southlake.
Special Tip: Unsure if you want to purchase something? From produce to bags of chips, every item in the store is sample-able, just ask one of the staff to open it up for you. Are you a sample lover? Be one of the first 1,000 customers when the store opens on Jan. 14 and snag a free reusable shopping bag.
Don’t Miss: From fresh cookies for kids to complementary umbrellas and grocery walk-out service, this store doesn’t miss any opportunity to make you feel well taken care of.
Can’t Live Without: Kitchen Sink Cookies. These delicious concoctions roll all your favorite cookies into one, with rolled oats, white chocolate, dark chocolate, nut and raisins rounding out the ingredient list.