Grocery Wars: Again?


Opening Day of Ralph's Supermarket/ April 25, 1942/
Opening Day of Ralph's Supermarket/ April 25, 1942/

Photo from USC Digital Archives

The LA Times reports that major food chains like Ralphs and Vons are lowering prices in an effort to win back price conscious consumers.

Trader Joes is where I usually shop. With no coupons, they still have the lowest prices. Bread, eggs, yogurt, jams, cereals, produce: they all cost less at TJ’s.

Even with coupons, Ralphs is a rip-off. Who has not done their weekly shopping and walked away spending less than $75?  When I meander down the aisle, every item seems to cost no less than $4.99.  Notice how they round it up to almost $5?

Ralphs is also a very inconvenient store to shop in. They have TOO MANY CHOICES and many aisles filled with junk foods, pet foods, organic foods and rip-off, overpriced produce.

Gelsons is expensive but very courteous. Vons tries hard but is often dirty and poorly managed. Whole Foods is full of entitled bitchy shoppers. Ralphs is mediocre with mostly high priced goods and no service.  Fresh and Easy gives you low prices and no choice and zero personality.

The only thing Trader Joes needs to work on: their crazy, overcrowded, exasperating, slow, accident prone parking lots.

3 thoughts on “Grocery Wars: Again?

  1. Andrew, I almost never shop at TJ’s any more, since the meat and produce are not particularly good, as in over the hill or too large a quantity. Don’t buy dairy so that is of no concern. Flowers are always seconds, meaning you won’t find them in first line flower shops.
    Wine is dreadful, beer selection better but I don’t drink beer, their spirits pricing is way too high, the condiments all seem to have way too much sodium, don’t buy bread.
    End up at Gelson’s on VN Blvd., finding everything conveniently located, parking always available front or back of store, great takeout deli as well as salad bar. Have not tried the hot food bar recently installed.
    Never go to Ralphs unless for my monthly bus pass, some non-perishable on sale, period!
    The Planet laundry and dishwashing soap I use is always cheaper at Gelson’s than either WFM or Ralphs, regular price. When on sale, really cheaper.
    Simply Lemonade when on sale the same as the competition, otherwise 40 cents higher, yet on sale about every 2 weeks, and its shelf-life is about 6 weeks, so I wait for the sale.
    Produce – enough said. Meat and seafood – enough said – you get what you pay for.

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  2. About your comment on the grocery stores out here in Van Nuys (well, the greater Los Angeles area, really.) I agree. Too often it’s a game of hit-or-miss. After a while you get used to the grocery store hop scotch. One store for produce, one store for prices; the better time to shop here, or there, etc.

    I don’t know if Ralphs or Vons (or the rest of their links in the chain) will ever get my business back. It irked me thoroughly when they allowed a strike for union workers to go on for so long through Christmas. I’m a union man myself and I can not understand Ralph’s crass corporate greed.

    I wanted to add that their choices aren’t really all that varied. One look at the product isles and you get the general idea. Ralphs buys exclusively from about three or four big food corporations that have the brand marks on a multiple of product labels. The simplest mark is the plain wrap made by Krogers. They’ve been around for years and they own way too many grocery store chains. Procter and Gamble will give them about four known products that are all the same under the label; Kraft Foods, ditto; et. al. with Beatrice Foods. Look up the names and you’ll see what I’m talking about. A sad little monopoly game they play making it look like they’re offering multitudes to the masses with a variety of shop fronts.

    As long as there is a Trader Joes here, a Gelson’s there, Whole Foods, etc. we’ll get by.

    In the meantime, I thought I’d pass along a few tips I’ve found to be handy. There’s one Whole Foods out in Valencia that is as large as a Ralphs, well kept, and always serviceable. It doesn’t have the elitist population of rude people that are bothering you at those two Sherman Oaks locations. The drive is about 25 minutes on the 405 during off hours. Check the business hours and plan ahead.

    I love Trader Joes, and I’m fortunate to live within walking distance. However, every once in a while I’m out of the neighborhood. So, if I’ve got an errand or appointment on the other side of town, I’ll try to find the TJ’s closest to that destination so I can go there on my way home. Sometimes you can catch an easy place to park nearby. The Trader Joe’s by Laurel Canyon and Ventura is near three different shopping areas, so there’s always a place to ditch the car, drink a Starbucks, blog a few notes. If you’re clever, I’m sure you’ve noted that the Dash is only 25 cents, runs every 20 minutes, and has a route that runs from Van Nuys City Hall right over to Hazeltine and Riverside (and right back.)

    If all else fails, spluge at Gelson’s. The extra two bucks will be worth your mental health in the long run on that one day you’re looking for a clean, unopened box of brown sugar. I’ve done it for just that reason. The Van Nuys Gelson’s doesn’t always have what I need, but the Sherman Oaks (Studio City?) one has never been a disappointment.

    Best Luck,

    Dan B

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