Martin’s is open

Emmy -- September 12th, 2007

I know that a lot of you try to avoid the big chain stores, and I’m trying to do better myself. But, I’m addicted to coupons and they sent them to me in the mail! So, I made a trip there this afternoon. I have to admit that even for the mass chaos that there was the store was awesome! With the exception of Chick-fil-a I’ve not been to a store where the employees were nicer. I even had an employee ask if he could help me take my groceries to the car. I haven’t been asked that anywhere but Red Front! They had a wonderful selection of organic items; more than any other chain in this town. They also had cloth bags available for purchase (I bought several). The prices were pretty good, even for the organics. Overall, I have to say I was impressed and I will shop there again.

I also predict that Kroger will be out of business within a few months.

69 Responses to “Martin’s is open”

  1. Emmy says:

    Oh and they also have a cash back to schools program attached to your bonus card. Even if you don’t have children, think about signing up a local school.

  2. finnegan says:

    I plan to check the store out when it’s slightly less crazy and crowded. My friends that went today said it was packed.

    I like Martin’s, but was secretly hoping for a Trader Joe’s.

  3. Emmy says:

    I’m hoping for a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Maybe once Kroger’s gone, they can come!

  4. Emmy says:

    I want to apologize for my poor punctuation! I may have been an English major… but I can’t write it or speak it properly!

  5. finnegan says:

    Having lived in Austin, the hometown and HQ of Whole Foods, I associate WF with snobby rich jerks. I have had way too many bad experiences and paid for way too many overpriced items at WF to ever miss it. I doubt I’ll ever shop in a WF store again.

  6. whackette says:

    Emmy, where is this? I got something in the mail but it didn’t say where it was or when it was opening.

  7. Emmy says:

    Ah, see I’ve never been in a Whole Foods, I just heard they had good stuff!

    Megan, it is where Toys-R-Us used to be out next to the mall and Target in the Kohl’s shopping center.

  8. David Troyer says:

    what is the wine selection like?

    have to scope out the competition ;-)

  9. Emmy says:

    Well I didn’t go there, because I had my kids with me and I was pushing one of those giant carts with the car on the front. I was already crashing into enough! I did notice that they were having a small tasting and a lot of people were carrying it out.

    Oh and they had sushi in the deli.

  10. Emmy says:

    Oh yeah and they double coupons every day and have triple coupons on occasion. I’ve also been told if you scan your card at the computers throughout the store they may have coupons for you based on items you’ve bought before.

    I filled a prescription there as well and got a $25 gift card (was told it was good on gas or in the store). The pharmacist was very friendly.

    Can you tell I liked it there?

  11. Deb SF says:

    Y’all may want to wait till the crowds thin a bit, and till the cashiers get a little more experience (some of them, anyway!). The young lady who rang up my order didn’t know what honeydew was, and had never heard of the zucchini the woman in front of me was buying. She also kept waving the various foods over the scanner, looking for the UPC barcode, and kept accidentally scanning things twice. I felt for her; the longer the line, the more flustered she became. But don’t teenagers eat veggies anymore? She had to ask me whether that oniony looking thing with all the cloves was garlic ;-)

    I don’t think they’ll take much business from the Food Lions in town, but I think Emmy is exactly right; Kroger now has major competition. Martin’s offers some new and different choices, and looks very spiffy. Many of their price tags included direct comparisons with Kroger and Food Lion. Their mass mailings even included a CD with coupons you could print and bring into the store. And they had computer stations here and there throughout the place; type in the product you’re looking for, and they’ll print you out a postcard-size map of the store, showing the location– which aisle and which side. One of their most popular loss-leaders was a free half gallon of Breyers ice cream (if you had the coupon).

  12. Bubby says:

    We’ve had September 12 on the calendar as “Martin’s Day”, but it really means “no more Kroger”.

  13. finnegan says:

    I went, and can say that they have a good meat, seafood, and organic section, but it’s still just a grocery store. And I don’t eat that much meat or seafood in the first place.

    I guess I’ll probably make it out there once a month or so.

    I certainly won’t be buying anything at Martin’s that I can get at the farmer’s market. In my book, local trumps organic any day.

  14. Grozet says:

    Martin’s beer selection was an improvement over many of the other grocery stores in the area. Smithwicks, Boddingtons, and Dark Becks are a welcome sight.

    However, the depth of this selection ends at the above mentioned beer. Nearly everything else could be found at Kroger’s or in one of the local Food Lions that stock weird imports at weird times.

    It sort of reminds me of Cville and their Harris Teeter. The difference is Cville’s Harris Teeter is way overpriced and their beer selection is magnificent.

  15. Emmy says:

    I agree with that Finnegan. I buy all my produce at the Farmer’s Market now and will continue to do so. I’m attempting as much local buying as possible. But, there are some things I can’t get in those places and so Martin’s will get my business just based on how they treated me. I must be getting old, because I actually notice and care about that stuff now.

  16. Justin says:

    Nice employees? That’s because local and regional managers are probably breathing down their necks.

    In a month or three, you’ll see more slobbish type employees who don’t give a crap about you.

  17. Emmy says:

    Maybe, but the employees at Chick-Fil-A are still just as nice as the day they opened. I don’t even like their food, but I eat there from time to time because of how nice they are there and how much they care about their customers. I think some companies still care about how their employees behave and I’ll wait and see how Martin’s does. My best friend’s husband works there and I can bet he’ll always provide good customer service.

  18. “In a month or three, you’ll see more slobbish type employees who don’t give a crap about you.”

    That is NOT because management is looking over their shoulders, it’s because in 3 months a new show will be coming to town and offering the “nicer” lower wage employees better and nicer management/employers. Ask yourself “Where did the majority of nice people go from Target?
    “…Chik-fil-a…a better and nicer employer…plain and simple.

  19. Laura says:

    The customer service at Martin’s is real. I had a consulting job in Winchester years ago and shopped at the Martin’s on my way out of town. They were always more than helpful, and that store had been around for many years.

    I was in the Stanton store last month and same thing…the produce guy spent 5 minutes with me explaining how to pick out the best melon!

    So what’s the problem with Kroger? I’ve always liked it and will continue to go there, too.

  20. Benjamin says:

    I was impressed with the olive bar, gourmet cheese selection, and the wide variety of produce. As a vegetarian who loves to cook and eat I welcome this change. I agree with comments about Kroger’s. Unless it makes some price changes it will be tough to compete.

  21. Jen says:

    I can’t find the information on the Whole Foods website now, but I remember looking a few years ago to request a local location, and at that time they had a minimum median income for the area a store would move into. Again, I don’t remember the exact figure, but 3 years ago it was a good deal higher than the Harrisonburg median income at the time.

    Here’s what they list as their guidelines now for a retail location:
    * 200,000 people or more in a 20 minute drive time
    * 40,000–75,000 Square Feet
    * Large number of college-educated residents
    * Abundant parking available for our exclusive use
    * Stand alone preferred, would consider complementary
    * Easy access from roadways, lighted intersection
    * Excellent visibility, directly off of the street
    * Must be located in a high traffic area (foot and/or vehicle)

    Do we have 200,000 people in town and county by now?

    Whole Foods does offer a lot that our local stores don’t, but they also charge a whole lot more too. The traditional (non-organic) produce at WF in C-ville is much more expensive than the same produce here.

    If Trader Joe’s offered a franchise, you can bet we’d have one open by now. I request a local store at least 2 times a year on their website, but have never heard anything from them.

  22. finnegan says:

    Jen, I’ve also requested a location at the TJ’s site a few times. I haven’t heard anything either. There’s at least a half dozen locations in Virginia, but most of them are in NoVa. The closest TJ’s is probably Reston.

    That bit about WF and the minimum median income is exactly the sort of snobbery I’m talking about. I hope they never come to H’burg.

    My guess is that the population for the city and county combined is close to 110k, and the median income for this area is around 32k – 37k per household. But that’s just a guess based on 2000 census data for the city and county combined, and inflated a bit to make up for the last seven years.

  23. Frank J Witt says:

    Just returned from Martin’s…empty handed. Seems you need a Bonus Card. With everything they have on special, it would be easier to the items THAT ARE NOT ON SPECIAL. Way too many little shelve tags. Love the variety in the produce section, however, the prices are not in line with the local or even produce from C’ville. Huge selections at the walk-up bars and it is Quiet in the too. None of the speakers from above.

    I would not want the job as greeter, though. Both entering and exiting the store, customers did not seem to care if these employees were even there.

    I am curious as to how long and how many employees will be serving in the fresh made item areas of the store. Even a company as large as Sheetz found out, it is hard to prepare as you go. Sheetz walk out on its freshness Made-To-Order (MTO) concept for the same reason. You need knowledable and trainable people to make orders as they come thru the door, not just make 10 of this and 15 of that.

    I belevie Martin’s will survive with the “Chains are better” mentallity the majority of this city enjoys. I wish I had more time to enjoy the local flare myself. I’ll leave the chains to the others…except for Hams on Sundays !

  24. Emmy says:

    In reading that list from Whole Foods, I now hope we don’t get one. Seriously, they want college educated customers? Everyone has to eat. I don’t have a degree, but I still eat!

    As for Kroger, I never darken their door. I just won’t spend that much more for food that is no different than what I could get anywhere else.

  25. JJ says:

    Finnegan,
    WFs considering income and college education in the demographics is an important part of their market research and a smart move on their part.

    The educated populace has, in large part, initiated and sustained the mass organic movement of the past 2 decades. Not only were they smart enough to demand healthier alternatives but they could afford (or more importantly were WILLING to afford) the higher costs.

    The educated masses also understand the power of the buying dollar (as, obviously do you). What I mean is that they understand the importance of supporting local and/or organic farmers and local businesses in contributing to the sense of communal wellbeing, and their importance to the local economy.

    Contrast that to the obese yahoos of Rockingham County who waddle into Wal-Mart every day. Do they give a rat’s ass about where ther dollar goes? Do they care what Wal-Marts historically do to towns and local businesses? Do they care if the toy they purchased there was made with child labor? Or where that food came from or what’s in it? No, and these buying trends are almost always linked to educational level.

    In fact, I would argue that, the poisoned pet foods and poisoned toys from China are A DIRECT RESULT of people like our locals who shop at Wal-Mart. When these folks demand something for nothing, and are willing to pay for things without questioning their origin what do you expect.

    Where you spend you money is a choice, and as they say, you get what you pay for.

    (I’m not sure how I could have written this without sounding snobbish so I’ll apologize now. It was not intended to be.)

  26. In defense of Whole Foods, a place I have been to and have no opinion about: They say they need a market that has a large number of college-educated residents. They didn’t say they don’t want customers who don’t have a degree, just that they need a large number of educated customers to have success. Given what Jen says about how much they charge, and that often (not always, I know) college-educated people make more $ and thus have more to spend on pricey groceries, that component of the WF list makes sense to me. Actually the whole list is reasonable. They’re not being snobby (in this case, anyway); they’re being realistic about who their customers are.

    Years ago, before Target came to the burg, I wrote an opinion piece in eightyone about wanting a Target and not having one because the area’s median income was too low, according to Target’s guidelines at the time. Companies have to look at things like income and education level in making their decisions. Of course now that we have a Target, I rarely go.

    I do go to Martin’s, but not every time I shop. It’s fabulous, but no Ukrops (can you tell I lived in Richmond for 11 years?) and kinda big for when I just need 10 things.

    For great reusable grocery bags, check out: http://www.go-againbags.com. I bought 20 for $20 and gave half of them away. I love ’em and the baggers at every grocery store I shop at loves ’em, too. They’re compact but sturdy and hold a lot of grub. You just have to remember to return them to your vehicle after you unload your groceries in the kitchen.

  27. Emmy says:

    Yeah, I was kind of kidding about the college degree thing. I understand what you are saying, but it sounds like I’d prefer a Trader Joe’s too.

    Thanks for the link to the bags, they look a lot like the ones at Martin’s, but I bet they are made out of something better.

  28. Jeff says:

    Finnegan and Emmy,
    The fact that WFs considers education and income in their market research is an important one for their demographics and customer base.

    Educated folks, by and large, have initiated and sustained the mainstream acceptance of the mass organic movement of the past 2 decades (notice that I did not say they started it-I’m referring only to the recent movement). Not only have they demanded healthier alternatives as we become more aware of the additives and poisons in our foods, but as higher income folks they can afford (more importantly they are WILLING to afford) they higher costs associated with niche commodities.

    Educated people also, for the most part, understand the importance of their spending power. Of course this is a generalization but it is typically people with higher educations that understand the importance of sustaining local, healthy economies and are WILLING to pay for that extra sense of communal wellbeing. (Spending habits of Americans have been studied and there is a link between healthy eating and quality of foods and education/income levels).

    Contrast this to the obese yahoos who waddle into Wal-Mart everyday. If the cared about their spending power they wouldn’t be there in the first place. Do they worry about the impact that Wal-Marts historically have on local business and economies? Are they concerned about whether or not that toy was made with child labor? Or that Wal-Mart is the world’s largest importer of goods from China? Or what additives or poisons are in there processed foods, so long as it saves them a nickel? Of course not.

    In fact, I would argue that the poisoned pet food and toys that came from China were a DIRECT RESULT of these people’s buying habits! What do you expect when you demand “something for nothing” with an obvious disregard for the product’s origin or manufacture?

    Where you spend your money is a choice and you always “get what you pay for.” Educated people know this…..

    I would rather be associated with a snobbish group that is concerned about the world in which they live, then with the uneducated masses of this town that are helping to destroy it.

  29. Emmy says:

    Well I shop at Wal-Mart from time to time as well. I guess I’m right in the middle of the mess :)

  30. Jeff says:

    Did you know that Wal-Mart is changing their logo from “Always low prices” to “Save money. Live Better.” They announced this yesterday.

    The sad thing is that in many cases you don’t actually save money, and “Live Better?” We already live better then anyone on the planet has EVER lived! But the shoppers won’t care, they’ll just consume, and consume, and consume…

  31. Jeff says:

    And then bitch and moan and acted shocked when more toys and products are recalled……………

  32. Emmy says:

    I’m one of the few people who doesn’t complain when things a recalled. I know exactly what I’m paying for and know the risks I’m taking. I do shop at Wal-Mart for certain things because it is cheaper. I simply do not have enough money to be but so picky about certain things. I’d love to be able to avoid it all together. I know exactly why we have so many recalls and so many other problems. I know that it stems from the “want it fast and cheap” mentality. I’m trying to make changes where I can, but in some areas, Wal-Mart still has my business.

    I shopped at Food Lion for a while because even thought it is a chain, it still wasn’t Wal-Mart. Then, I found bugs in my meat. They also sell my detergent for almost $2 more per bottle than Wal-Mart. They were also incredibly nasty to my pastor when he approached them about renting the empty Food Lion in Waterman Square.

    So, I moved on to Red Front. Their items are better quality, and more often local, but their customer service has tanked and they are still pretty high on some of my main items.

    I don’t know the answer. I’m really trying, but any more I can find some reason to hate just about every company.

  33. Bubby says:

    We are fortunate to have many small produce farmers in the area. During a recent visit by friends from Los Angeles we served freshly picked sweet corn and cucumbers – they’re still talking about it.

  34. Frank J Witt says:

    I’m really glad that Wal-Mart is the ONLY company selling recalled products…right Jeff?

  35. Thanh says:

    Deona,
    Thanks for the info about the Go-Again Bags! They look great and I think I will do the same – buy 20 and give most away. I currently use canvas bags, but they are flimsy and don’t stand upright the way the Go-Again Bags appear to do. Thanks!

  36. Barnabas says:

    I haven’t been to tthe harrisonburg Martins yet but plan to stop by later this week.

    As for Wal-Mart, they are by far the worst company I worked for. They did a really good job of brainwashing me through high school but I’m older and smarter now. They bully the companies that provide them products they deny many of their works health care and “ask” them to work unpaid overtime. I know how this giant works I was there for 7 years. Most of the bad things you hear about Wal-Mart are true.

  37. Jeff says:

    Mr. Witt,
    I Never said they were. Only that they are the largest importer of products from China. I should also add that W-M is the largest toy retailer in the world, bar none.

    Barnabas,
    Have you ever checked out walmartwatch.com? It’s a very informative site.

  38. The Go-Again Bags do not stand upright unless they’re full of stuff, but they have a solid bottom insert and are not flimsy, especially considering how lightweight they are. One of mine has a slight tear in it now, one that would probably get worse if I loaded it up, but I have 9 others so it doesn’t feel like a rip-off, especially at $1 a pop. I have used them for far more than groceries.

  39. Frank J Witt says:

    I just wanted you to understand the the retailer is not the responsible party here. The company (Mattel…ect) is the one to be held responsible. WM is nothing more than a buyer. Mattel and other companies want to do business with them so they ship jobs overseas and under far worse than shitty working conditions. WM does not make them do that. WM buys, if you want WM to buy from you then you must make the product attractive to WM, both in quantity and price…not quality. If I were to sell subs at WM and had to make 40 million a month, could I effectively make them here in the US?…probably not. Then it becomes MY responsibility to ensure our subs are make to exacting standards. WM just stocks their shelves full of our subs and then if a problem occurs, it occurs around the globe to those people that buy my subs.

    I buy from so many different suppliers, how do I know where my dry goods are made and by what standards. I better find out though or no one would want to buy my subs. WM doesn’t do that kind of background because they guess that their supplier and further up the chain will be able to maintain some level of safety.

    Apparently not though.

  40. Jeff says:

    Mr. Witt,
    I agree with you to some extent and I think you make a good point. Where I disagree is when you write, “WM does not make them do that.” I would ague that in fact WM DOES make them do that via their buying practices. Demanding such low prices and then only paying the supplier on a 6mo, 12mo & 18mo basis where the supplier has to bankroll the whole cost of production, leaves them little choice but to move operations overseas.

    You stated as much in your next sentence, “if you want WM to buy from you then you must make the product attractive to WM, both in quantity and price…not quality. If I were to sell subs at WM and had to make 40 million a month, could I effectively make them here in the US?…probably not.”

    Unfortunately now that you don’t know where your stuff is coming from, or how it was made in a third world country with little or no regulation, then I think some of the onus IS ON the retailer to investigate and ask questions. If nothing else, as a PR move with the public.

    This may be a new phenomenom and yet another burden, but in today’s business world we’re finding out that others aren’t necessarily looking after the consumer.

    You know who really let us down? the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  41. Jeff says:

    Brent,
    Your site is not allowing postings again.

  42. Jeff says:

    Now why did that go thru and not the others?

  43. Jeff says:

    I agree with you to some extent and I think you make a good point. Where I disagree is when you write, “WM does not make them do that.” I would ague that in fact WM DOES make them do that via their buying practices. Demanding such low prices and then only paying the supplier on a 6mo, 12mo & 18mo basis where the supplier has to bankroll the whole cost of production, leaves them little choice but to move operations overseas.

    You stated as much in your next sentence, “if you want WM to buy from you then you must make the product attractive to WM, both in quantity and price…not quality. If I were to sell subs at WM and had to make 40 million a month, could I effectively make them here in the US?…probably not.”

    Unfortunately now that you don’t know where your stuff is coming from, or how it was made in a third world country with little or no regulation, then I think some of the onus IS ON the retailer to investigate and ask questions. If nothing else, as a PR move with the public.

    This may be a new phenomenom and yet another burden, but in today’s business world we’re finding out that others aren’t necessarily looking after the consumer.

    You know who really let us down? the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission who is supposed to oversee this stuff.

  44. Jeff says:

    Mr. Witt,
    I agree with you to some extent and I think you make a good point. Where I disagree is when you write, “WM does not make them do that.” I would ague that in fact WM DOES make them do that via their buying practices. Demanding such low prices and then only paying the supplier on a 6mo, 12mo & 18mo basis where the supplier has to bankroll the whole cost of production, leaves them little choice but to move operations overseas.

    You stated as much in your next sentence, “if you want WM to buy from you then you must make the product attractive to WM, both in quantity and price…not quality. If I were to sell subs at WM and had to make 40 million a month, could I effectively make them here in the US?…probably not.”

    Unfortunately now that you don’t know where your stuff is coming from, or how it was made in a third world country with little or no regulation, then I think some of the onus IS ON the retailer to investigate and ask questions. If nothing else, as a PR move with the public.

    This may be a new phenomenom and yet another burden, but in today’s business world we’re finding out that others aren’t necessarily looking after the consumer.

    You know who really let us down? the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  45. Jeff says:

    This is ridiculous. Why do some posts go thru and not others?

  46. Jeff says:

    Mr .Witt,
    I agree with you to some extent and I think you make a good point. Where I disagree is when you write, “WM does not make them do that.” I would ague that in fact WM DOES make them do that via their buying practices. Demanding such low prices and then only paying the supplier on a 6mo, 12mo & 18mo basis where the supplier has to bankroll the whole cost of production, leaves them little choice but to move operations overseas.

    You stated as much in your next sentence, “if you want WM to buy from you then you must make the product attractive to WM, both in quantity and price…not quality. If I were to sell subs at WM and had to make 40 million a month, could I effectively make them here in the US?…probably not.”

  47. Jeff says:

    (cont.)
    Unfortunately now that you don’t know where your stuff is coming from, or how it was made in a third world country with little or no regulation, then I think some of the onus IS ON the retailer to investigate and ask questions. If nothing else, as a PR move with the public.

    This may be a new phenomenom and yet another burden, but in today’s business world we’re finding out that others aren’t necessarily looking after the consumer.

    You know who really let us down? the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    (Sorry about the two part post, it was the only way I could get the site to take it.)

  48. Jeff says:

    Unfortunately now that you don’t know where your stuff is coming from, or how it was made in a third world country with little or no regulation, then I think some of the onus IS ON the retailer to investigate and ask questions. If nothing else, as a PR move with the public.

    This may be a new phenomenom and yet another burden, but in today’s business world we’re finding out that others aren’t necessarily looking after the consumer.

    You know who really let us down? the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  49. Jeff says:

    Sorry about the two pary post folks, it was the only way I could get the site to take it.

  50. Jeff says:

    two part post…..man I’m having a rough time here..:-)

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