A Local Supermarket Comparison: Finding a Better Deal Proves a Difficult Task

Almost one month ago, New Section A held a charity auction at Hong Kong to raise money for victims of the disasters along the Gulf Coast and in Pakistan. Overall, the section raised over $11,000 with this awesome charity party and auction. Each student in the section was challenged to contribute an item or service to be auctioned off. Erica Hunt, affectionately called Chef E, decided to auction off her famous spaghetti dinner for two, which went to the winning bid of $30.

So how much will it cost Chef E to whip up this spaghetti dinner? Well that depends on where Chef E decides to shop for her ingredients. I think most RC students would agree that comparing prices among local grocery stores would be beneficial. However, it falls pretty low on priority lists containing such items as case write-ups, recruiting, student clubs and social activities. Since Chef E lives in SFP, I decided to compare prices at three local grocery stores within a mile of campus to find her the best deal.

I visited Shaw’s Brighton Hills, Super Stop & Shop and Whole Foods Market, on Sunday, November 13 between 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. There was a bit of variation between the length of the lines and fullness of stock among the three stores. The only problem is that the store with the most stock, Shaw’s Brighton Hills, had the longest lines and the store with the least stocked shelves, Super Stop & Shop, had the shortest lines. Shaw’s Brighton Hills and Super Stop & Shop carry most major brands, while Whole Foods Market is known for having the highest quality natural and organic products. It is likely that shoppers will not find “big brand” products at Whole Foods Market. For example, they don’t carry Pepsi so I substituted Adirondack Seltzer when comparing prices.

Whole Foods Market is probably the most “upscale” market of the three and even offers classes and wine-and-cheese tastings. Super Stop & Shop differentiates itself with its Peapod Home Delivery program which allows shoppers to buy groceries online. Delivery to kitchen counters is promised for a charge of $6.95 – $9.95, depending on the size of the order. Peapod Home Delivery has a $50 minimum purchase. Shaw’s Brighton Hills definitely provides a pleasant shopping experience and offers the Wild Harvest line of natural foods in addition to its Wine Market publication.

At the end of the day, there was only a 70-cent difference between the highest and lowest bills: $26.49 and $25.79. So, if time is of the essence you may want to shop at Super Stop & Shop. If you want a market with fully stocked shelves and a variety of brands, you might want to visit Shaw’s Brighton Hills. But, if you are health conscious and want fresh and exotic meats, you might want to shop at Whole Foods Market. With only a 2.8% difference between the highest and lowest bills, wherever you choose to shop you can do so with the peace of mind that there is not a much better deal waiting around the corner.

Shaw’s Brighton Hills
370 Western Avenue
Brighton, MA 02135
Distance from campus: .91 mile
Hours: Sunday-Saturday 7am-Midnight
Observations: Very clean store, fresh produce, fully stocked shelves, long lines, holiday sales
Total Bill: $26.49; the highest bill (2.8% higher than the lowest bill)

Super Stop & Shop
60 Everett Street
Allston, MA 02134
Distance from campus: 1 mile
Hours: Sunday-Saturday 7am-Midnight
Observations: Fairly clean store, fresh produce, under-stocked shelves, short lines, holiday sales, Peapod Home Delivery Online at
Total Bill: $26.31 (2.1% higher than the lowest bill)

Whole Foods Market
340 River Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
Distance from campus: .48 mile
Hours: Sunday-Saturday 8am-10pm
Observations: Very clean store, freshest organic and conventional produce, fully stocked shelves, short lines, limited variety outside natural and organic brand names
Total Bill: $25.79, lowest bill

November 21, 2005
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