With no large grocers nearby, getting fresh meat and produce requires a strategy, shoppers say
It seems as though Downtown has a lot of everything: restaurants, theaters, bars, parking ramps, people. But one thing that seems to be lacking is grocery stores. Where do people who live in the middle of a thriving metropolis go when they need a head of -lettuce, a carton of milk and a loaf of bread?
Doug Koons, owner of the Douglas-Baker Gallery and new resident at the Churchill, offered one answer.
"We do two things," Koons explains. "I go to Everett's Meat Market [located at Cedar Avenue and East 38th Street and buy all of my meat for a month. Then, I go to Cub in South Minneapolis with all my coupons and spend about one to two hours stocking up for the whole month."
Koons is not alone in his trek to nearby neighborhoods. Many Downtown residents frequent nearby Cub, Rainbow, Kowalski's and Lunds for their large selection and low prices.
Violet Kloth makes the trip to either Cub Foods off Hiawatha Avenue or Lunds Market in Uptown every Tuesday. Kloth lives in the Augustana Apartment complex, a senior living community that offers a grocery service to its tenants.
"They pick us up in the vans and take us to the store," Kloth says. "We just need to remember to bring our lists and they do the rest for us. We don't have to handle the groceries at all. They load the bags in the vans and bring them back to our building. We have grocery carts and we wheel them up to our apartments and put them on the shelf. It's very convenient."
Convenience plays a large role in determining where many Downtown residents shop. The lack of nearby options and the higher prices found at smaller markets often send shoppers running out of the city when they need to stock up. To fill in small items, though, Downtown markets are perfect.
Koons agrees, saying, "To fill in during the month, we go to Tom Thumb at the Churchill for their fresh dairy, fresh bread and produce."
Still, he prefers to shop in his old South Minneapolis neighborhood.
"It's a habit," he says of his monthly trip to Everett's. "We like to support family-owned businesses and small grocery stores. That's why we go."
According to Debbie Rahn of the Oak Grove Grocery, many people feel the same way as Koons.
Oak Grove, a small market located in a Loring Park brownstone basement, sees most of its customers coming from a two-to-three-block radius.
Rahn says: "The majority of people probably use us as filler for stuff they need frequently during the month."
Brad Hansen, owner of City Market on Hennepin, hopes that Downtown residents start to recognize the benefits of shopping at Downtown markets.
"We are located right Downtown, so it is very convenient, whether to fill-in small items or do all your grocery shopping," Hansen notes. "Our meat prices are better than at the chain stores, and our produce prices are comparable. We're a great establishment with a friendly staff. But really, it comes down to convenience. We're close; you don't have to drive out of the city, load up your car, unload your car, and haul stuff up to an apartment. We're right here."
Although sales have been down at City Market during the last few years due to occupancy problems at nearby complexes, Hansen remains optimistic about his future despite a lease dispute with his Laurel Village landlord that will be heard in mid-March.
"We have a nice size customer base who do a lot of their shopping here," he says. "Some percentage is convenience, but we have a great customer base that comes here for everything."
Along with neighborhood markets and nearby chain grocers, two familiar Downtown institutions now offer grocery options for residents.
The Target store on Nicollet Avenue boasts an expanded grocery section, larger than most of their stores but smaller than that of a SuperTarget. Along with the typical macaroni and cheese, soup, cereal, soda and snacks offered by most Targets, the Downtown location offers an expanded freezer section and more dairy products, as well as a better selection of boxed foods (no produce, though). Even with more options, customers on Thursday afternoon weren't doing their grocery shopping there. Most people pushed their carts right past the freezer section into the snack aisles and the drink section.
Another Nicollet Mall business offers grocery shoppers a different option. Marshall Field's Marketplace offers Downtown residents a gourmet food shop, complete with salads, desserts and deli selections.
A new option only available to some residents is Simon Delivers.com. The Golden Valley- based delivery giant offers an entire grocery of items, including meat and produce. Prices are typically between those of a Cub and Byerly's. SimonDelivers charges a $5 delivery fee for orders over $80 and $7.95 for orders under $80. Deliveries are made on the same day each week (you don't have to be present to receive an order, which comes in green, temperature-controlled bins), though shoppers can select alternate delivery days when available.
However, SimonDelivers only delivers to select Downtown complexes -- currently, Centre Village, Laurel Village, Loring Green, Loring Park, Marquette Place, Mill City Lofts, North Star Lofts, The Oakwood Apartments, 110 Grant, RiverWest, the Stone Arch Apartments and the Metro Apartments. And of course, you have to have Internet access to use the service.