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Click pic to view comments Fortnightly face-off: Supermarkets vs C-stores
Posted: 22:50 Sun 21-03-2004.
Snackspot reports: Hmm, seems to have been 3 weeks now since our previous debate (on snacks targeted at men and women), which degenerated fairly swiftly - if entertainingly - into the feasibility of snacking in the bath/ shower/ other parts of the bathroom. (Though The Grocer reports only this week that Smirnoff are making their ailing Black Ice alcopop "less sweet" in a bid to "increase its appeal to male consumers".) Anyway, apologies for using the Jamie Oliver pic again for this week's belated head-to-head: One way or another, do you prefer shopping in a supermarket or smaller convenience store?

...(NB: "Convenience store" covers independent "corner shops" as well as the newer small supermarket outlets like Sainsbury's Central or the controversial Tesco Metro.) Do you agree with that NiceCupOfTea guy that corner shops often have a wider range of weirder products? Do you have other ideas on places where you'd like to buy food, like this one in a Gloucestershire pub? And do you have any sympathy at all for a ridiculous story I saw on local TV news London Tonight recently which worked out that groceries are nearly 5% more expensive in smaller city-centre Tesco and Sainsbury's outlets than in their larger supermarkets, apparently failing to realise that *everything* is traditionally more expensive in a convenience store?


Posted: 02:04 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Adrian" # permalink comment
Comment: There is always a price to be paid for "convenience". Anyhoo, I've often found that small grocers in market settings have the most astonishing array of eastern European biscuits (inevitably lemon-flavoured wafers). Convenience stores excell at getting new products in front of you - they usually put them right near the cash register and often the staff are told to point them out to you when you are making a purchase. Supermarkets don't put as much effort in.

I always like wandering through an Asian grocery - there's lots of weird and wonderful snacks to try, although I usually end up just buying Pocky.

Posted: 11:13 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Neil" # permalink comment
Comment: For Men?
Posted: 13:47 Mon 22-03-2004 by "idiotmanchild" # permalink comment
Comment: There are few experiences more frustrating than shopping in a poorly stocked supermarket. At least with a corner shop you go expecting to be disappointed but often end up with an embarrassment of freshly baked organic riches. The Tesco Metros can often be terrible , specifically the one on Liverpool Street in London which regularly runs out of milk for God's sake and where I once got involved in a hunt for tinned tomatoes that involved so many dead-ends and wrong turns I feared I'd strayed into an Umberto Eco novel by mistake. They say that civilisation is only three meals away from anarchy - well after seeing two suits wrestling over the last litre of semi-skinned I think we're a lot closer to the edge than most people realise. I tell you this now - one failed milk delivery and the people of the East end will resemble something out of the end of "Threads". I also have tales of the Sainsburys in Golders Green that are so horrifying they should be passed down like a fable from generation to generation as a warning about the hubris of man (and the importance of sandwich stocking etiquette). But they are for another time...
Posted: 14:12 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Mike Gray" # permalink comment
Comment: I don't know what I like more about "convenience" supermarkets - the stupidly high prices or the low range of stock.

Large supermarkets for me, definitely. I'm strangely partial to Safeway, mostly because I lived off whatever was in their special offer leaflet that week in my student days.

Posted: 14:21 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Nebbish" # permalink comment
Comment: Only a corner shop could sell a bag of fruit-flavoured boiled sweets in which the orange ones are actually barley sugars *bliss*, but supermarkets win I'm afraid, if solely because they usually have an entire aisle devoted to biscuits.
Posted: 14:36 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Mike Gray" # permalink comment
Comment: My gripe is not with corner shops, purveyors of imported oddness of all kinds (and I saw one the other day entitled which was advertising Kandy on it's billboard outside - is there something the Kaptain is not telling us?), but with the pitiful scaled down versions of the major chain supermarkets.
Posted: 14:37 Mon 22-03-2004 by "charl" # permalink comment
Comment: i prefer convenience shops for random discoveries, but the poor judgement of shopping behaviour in the new tesco metro in sheffield. they clearly misjudged the calling for cake decorating products in an urban supermarket resulting in loads of reduced stuff that's in date for another six months. i love it when a marziplan comes together.
Posted: 14:43 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Nebbish" # permalink comment
Comment: It doesn't last Charl. My local Sainsburys made a similar mistakes; after about a year the grinding beaucracy finally catches up and they stop stocking as much.
Posted: 14:51 Mon 22-03-2004 by Snackspot # permalink comment
Comment: I once got a really good PC as a result of Sainsbury's overstocking products that they clearly didn't have any idea what to do with. Tons of loyalty points too.

Anyway, one thing I do like about the tidgy supermarkets is when they have hot sandwich racks like at Tesco Liverpool St or Sainsbury's Tottenham Court Road. Some convenience chains have "bake off" stands selling warm petits pains au chocolat etc, but it's not quite the same...

Posted: 15:36 Mon 22-03-2004 by "charl" # permalink comment
Comment: you mean i've got a whole year of cheap fondant icing, nebbish? marvellous, i thought they'd be understocking by next week! and i love the idea of ubergeeky snackspot stopping off for some noodles at sainsbury's and just having to have a new pc. i'm surprised 7-11 never really took off here, they are good for warm snacks. and big drinks.
Posted: 15:42 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Alex" # permalink comment
Comment: Definitely "C-stores"

I've already stated my reasons in the Sainsburys vs Tescos thread a while back.

Which is that they stock 'rarer' and newer items.

Posted: 15:50 Mon 22-03-2004 by Snackspot # permalink comment
Comment: ;) I didn't just buy the PC on a whim, I spotted it there for 600 quid or whatever, went home and looked up the specs on the internet and realised it was a bit of a bargain (for 3 years ago)

also, if you're worried about paying over the odds in convenience stores, go for products which are "price-marked" (eg Tango bottles with "Only 59p" actually printed on the label) - C-stores hate these as they can't add their usual markup, but as a result you rarely see them in supermarkets, city-centre or otherwise

Posted: 16:18 Mon 22-03-2004 by "AMoulder" # permalink comment
Comment: newsagents are best cos sometimes it looks like they're advertising the popular adult video "only 5 schoolgirls at a time"
Posted: 16:39 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Nebbish" # permalink comment
Comment: Along with some obscure actual pornography. I once saw a copy of "Hard Northern Bitches" with a free video in a London newsagents. I'm still kicking myself for not buying it.
Posted: 16:46 Mon 22-03-2004 by Snackspot # permalink comment
Comment: perhaps it's a pet training course?
Posted: 19:18 Mon 22-03-2004 by "choccieman"
(apparently posting from 81-86-154-129.dsl.pipex.com) # permalink comment
Comment: Whilst I appreciate the occaisional visit to corner shops provides rare (and or just plain weird) products, for me the best has to be big supermarkets. Heck you can live in the things for nearly a week ;) (is that a challenge?) What category does woolworths come under? Coz they're pretty good (and getting better) at providing a wide range of choc.
Posted: 19:26 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Kaptain Korolev" # permalink comment
Comment: Personally the Kaptain will go for the chain store in preference to a local konvenience purveyor.

The Kaptain is a usual shopper of the Sainsbury's range of fooden shops. They always have a stock of his favourite rye breads and delicious condiments, and futhermore the fruit is both tasty and undamaged. Another prime reason to shop in the Sainsbury shop is that they employ a staff of 'buyers' who cannot do their job correctly, for example the Kaptain's local store still has a series of Christmas pudding treats left over from festive yuletimes. Looking at the range of easter kandy eggtastes on the shelves the Kaptain looks forward to some post Eastivius kash savings.

The Kaptain cannot finish though without mentioning the most krazy chainstore of all..... Lidl (pronounced Lee-Dell according to the Kaptain's germanic speaking uncle). Lidl brings back to the Kaptain some of memories of shopping in an Eastern European cut price environment.

The Kaptain doesn't advise 'shopping' in Lidl but rather going along to enjoy the kaos and atmosphere whilst also purchasing some strange own brand Lidl products for experimental eatings. On a recent sortie into Lidl land the Kaptain picked up 4 litres of pulped pears known in Lidl language as 'Pear nectar' and also several boxes of cereal falling under the brand name of 'Little Man'....... what fantastic products. The only downside to a Lidl adventure is paying for the goods, the Kaptain notices that the Lidlites only employ approximately two members of check-out staff no matter how big the store, so the shopper is often forced to endure a long wait. To the Kaptain though, this waiting only enhances the 'pre Perestroika Eastern block' feel of the Lidl shopping experience.

Posted: 19:27 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Cokeco" # permalink comment
Comment: I like supermarkets best. Convenience stores are often dingy underlit places where you wonder how long the food has been on the shelves. Although if we had 7-11's I may change my mind. They always had the best candy. However, even supermarkets in this country need updating. Being from Canada and now a UK resident for more than a year, I still miss Zehrs supermarkets. The lobsters swimming around in the tanks, the fresh pizza counters. The space, the freedom, the dill pickles!
Posted: 19:41 Mon 22-03-2004 by "cokeco" # permalink comment
Comment: Kaptain, I have a lidl near me and have tried that unholy slime that is pear nectar and I never will again. Also never set foot there on a Thursday when the new stock is put out... the OAP's will run you down!!
Posted: 20:32 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Mike Gray" # permalink comment
Comment: I'd forgotten about Aldi / Lidl and their ilk. Is anyone else fond of Aldi's "Dreemy" bars? They appear to contain random amounst of salt and sugar depending on which batch you get, giving the entire thing an exciting russian roulette style air.
Posted: 22:47 Mon 22-03-2004 by Snackspot # permalink comment
Comment: I don't know how many 7-11 stores ever opened in the UK, but Budgens turned them all into B2 shops after buying them in around October 1997: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/the_company_file/171835.stm
Posted: 23:23 Mon 22-03-2004 by "Philip Thompson" # permalink comment
Comment: Giant supermarkets for a big shop, Convenience stores for 'disoveries' of 'interesting' crisps and snacks... you won't find 10p crisps in a supermarket and they are so lovely.

I 'hate' Tesco Metro as they are basically a small overcrowded version of the supermarket but with none of the items you want.

Posted: 03:27 Tue 23-03-2004 by "elmsyrup" # permalink comment
Comment: Well, there's a great independent newsagent in my road that gets all sorts of things, but if the newsagent is a Dillon's or other chain it negates the independentness and they never get properly new things in. Isn't Woolworth's better than either, for new things? I don't think supermarkets in these here provinces are very good at all for novelty. You Londoners are so spoilt!
Posted: 10:30 Tue 23-03-2004 by "Nebbish" # permalink comment
Comment: Has the Kaptain tried any of Lidl's bizarre range of previously unknown spirits? I was tempted once but thought better of it.
Posted: 21:47 Tue 23-03-2004 by "elmsyrup" # permalink comment
Comment: I want to know what the Lidl/Aldi versons of almond liqueur are like, because my Amaretto habit is *so* expensive.
Posted: 23:36 Tue 23-03-2004 by "Peter" # permalink comment
Comment: I do like the obscure things that can be found at the local corner shop, (for local people) ranging from a variety of cheap and cheerful crisp brands with strengths from 'taste nothing' to 'blow your mouth off'. I have found the occasional bottle of cider which was only out of date by a year or two, nothing much. ;-)

Anywhere that stocks the 20p version of Space Raiders is fine with me!

Though for the boring, day to day items, supermarkets win hands down.

Posted: 15:43 Wed 24-03-2004 by "Patrick" # permalink comment
Comment: The aldi/lidl "Tolstoy spirit drink" not-quite-vodka is a thing of legend (and blindness).
Posted: 22:53 Thu 25-03-2004 by "Peter" # permalink comment
Comment: Likewise the Lidl version of Red Bull called "Sitting Bull", one sip of that and you will lose the power of speech (and the ability to taste anything for a while afterwards). 40766 2 00
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