The great grocery store roundup

I’ll be on KFRU’s Morning Meeting Friday at about 9:15. We’ll be talking about grocery stores (ratings gold!). What the old ones are doing to draw customers and what the new ones like Natural Grocers will be all about. Somebody will surely call in and whine about not having a Trader Joe’s in town. It’ll be good times.

I find myself going different places for different things. Each store – whether it’s Schnucks, Hy-Vee, Gerbes or one of the other options – seems to do something well. With Schnucks, it may be fresh mozzarella and deals on wine. Hy-Vee carries more fresh, local produce. Gerbes has excellent customer service. Mosers will sell you pig balls (and ears and chicken feet and…)and Aldi has avocadoes for $0.69. And so on. Where do you shop? What do you get there that you can’t anywhere else?


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

19 thoughts

  1. WAIT… “Gerbes has excellent customer service” — SORRY NO — the customer service is nonexistent and what little of it there is SUCKS! That’s at all of their stores, which is why I rarely go there anymore. They could care less who shops in their stores so I choose to spend my money elsewhere. Ever try to get a raincheck when they are out of a product in their ad? They are rude and just plain nasty to deal with. Every once in awhile I’ll use the pharmacy at the store on Nifong if the price is right. The folks there are usually helpful and kind.

  2. Dissent!

    I don’t go to Gerbes as often as the other stores, but when I have, the staff have seemed more actively friendly than elsewhere. My wife has commented on the same, but again, we’re not frequent customers. Other folks care to weigh in?

  3. Hy-Vee now has grass-fed beef, in addition to their great organic section. Gerbes just feels, and often smells, dirty.

  4. Let’s see… there was the time when a woman carried a screaming child into the bathroom and I heard her beating it as it screamed and no one seemed to notice, everyone around me including the Gerbes workers standing right there ignored it. When I went to “customer service” and told them about it, they looked at me like I was crazy and mumbled something so I just left my cart and walked out. Then there was the time in the pet food aisle, there was a smell so vile that I almost lost my lunch. It must have been some kind of vermin dead in one of the bags or on one of the shelves. You could smell it at least two aisles away. Again, I just walked out of the store and I have not gone back to that Gerbes location since.

  5. Oh, and you won’t hear me calling and whining about not having a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods (although we are getting a Big Lots as well as a Natural Grocers) because I don’t listen to KFRU.

  6. About Gerbes, we used the self checkout once and a clerk came over to help us. When we got home, we realized that the two deli sandwiches we purchased had not made it to the bag so we drove back. The person at the customer service counter said that only one of the sandwiches had been turned in at the service desk so she only wanted to replace one of them. My husband finally convinced her that we were owed two sandwiches and I hope the guy who checked us out enjoyed his lunch.

  7. I go to Schnucks most often. two reasons: first, i am originally from the st. louis area and when i was in college it always made me feel less homesick to go to schnucks. now its just habit. second, it tends to be less crowded than some of the other stores, which I like.

    Hyvee (southside) is the closest to my house and I do like it, but it tends to be very picked over. also, i get lost because sometimes i don’t know if what i want is in the health food section or in the regular food section. But I do tend to go to Hyvee if I just need a few things and don’t want to go far.

  8. Since you asked…. Schnucks is my favorite. I’m from St. Louis, it was the closest store to my house when we first moved here, it has the best customer service, the best selection, and the nicest facility. I also like that it is not over crowded, I don’t have to park a mile away from the store, and my kids get free cookies if I bring them with me. They have a better decaf coffee selection than Gerbes or HyVee. They also used to be the only store in town that had canned tuna in olive oil (that might have changed). Best cheese selection. Nice pharmacists too.
    I don’t like the way the produce section is organized at HyVee, actually I don’t like the way the entire store is organized. It is too big, and it seems to take me twice as long to get through than other grocery stores.
    I like Gerbes for the better prices on Amy’s Organic frozen foods, and their Private Selection pasta is good at a good price. They also have veal available more often than other places, which my Italian husband likes. Broadway Gerbes is closest to my house. It is my, “pick up something quick after work” grocery store. The cashiers at Gerbes and Schnucks are both friendly and helpful, and I never get stuck bagging my groceries. I never feel that way at HyVee.


  9. I do the same thing…go to different stores for different products. The Schnucks near me seems to have the best cheese and beer/wine selection but the Hy-Vee has a much better “natural” foods section. Never been to Gerbes, not into Clovers. Most produce comes from the farmers market and Root Cellar, specialty foods and wine at Hoss’s.

  10. the best meat department of the three, i think, is schnucks, yet they have the worst bakery by far. i go to all 3 for different things — schnucks is the ‘go-to’; gerbs has Boars Head meats, and HyVee has a banana split favored “Splitz” yogurts. go figure.

  11. …oh, and hyvee has largest selection of ciders, a good smattering of wines; schnucks is having nice sales these days on their small but decent wine selection; gerbes has the smallest, least impressive wine selection of the 3.

    i would LOVE a trader joes or a fresh market/whole foods or a world market for that matter…

    isn’t natural grocers just like clovers? they seem to specialize in the same things, just based on their website. i was hoping they would have a lot more groceries than clovers, but i am not sure….?

  12. I sure wish they had a Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods here in Columbia. There, someone said it.

    Actually, I find the lack of good fresh herbs in this town sad. Those clamshells are tasteless and expensive and many times the “fresh” stuff isn’t too appealing. But I guess the middle of the continent is too far away for these grocers.

    At one time I drove freight from the Columbia airport (Airborne) to the Rolla/Salem area. Almost daily I delivered a 50lb box of assorted fresh picked herbs from McCormick in California to the U.S. Foods warehouse in Salem, so I know if they wanted fresh herbs in the grocery they could do it logistically. Those fresh herbs all went to restaurants more than likely.

  13. I guess this is silly, but I detest Gerbes store card system. It seems to serve no other function than to enable them to track purchases at the customers expense and inconvienience. Some chashiers will use a generic card behind the counter if you ask them, but some wont …and will actually atttempt to charge you larger prices if you don’t want to fill out the card information and carry the damned thing around with you.

    Schnucks is nice, but I can’t help but feel that I am paying for atomosphere. Also, I believe that Gerbes and Schnucks are owned by the same parent company (Kroeger).

  14. I will be making a stop into the Natural Grocers on Friday to see what they have to offer. I want to scope out the selection, brands, product quality and general range of items they have compared to the Conley HyVee location which is my go-to grocery store. Not to mention its 2 miles from home as well…

    Trader Joes in CoMo would be sweet no doubt about it! I hope Natural Grocers is a close alternative for now. Will soon see.

  15. FYI, Gerbes is owned by Kroger, but Schnucks is still owned by the Schnucks family in St. Louis.

    Like others, I go to different stores for different things. Schnucks has the best meat, and I think their bakery is infinitely better than Hy-Vee’s (whose only decent product is the pretzel bread, IMO). They tend to be more expensive, but they have great sales, and you can’t beat their price on Schlafly beer and Cabot cheddar.

    I live a stone’s throw from the Hy-Vee on Broadway, so that’s where I do most of my shopping. The produce is usually pretty good (although condition and availability can be spotty — they get their big delivery on Tuesdays, so by Sunday/Monday things can look pretty tired), and I appreciate their efforts at local sourcing (produce, Uprise breads, local grass-fed beef, etc.). While I prefer the atmosphere at Schnucks, I love the fact that no one at Hy-Vee is ever going to try to shunt me into a self-checkout lane — they don’t exist there. And unlike my friend Carol, I always fine the cashiers friendly and helpful.

  16. Yep, 8:56am.

    They have weirdly-listed store hours to remind staff that if a customer arrives a little early or needs to stay a tad late, they need to be open.

  17. Their hours are:

    8:56 AM – 8:04 PM Mon – Sat
    9:56 AM – 6:06 PM Sun

    It’s evidently a totally new and foreign business concept called CUSTOMER SERVICE …

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