All Your Favorite Grocery Stores Have These Things in Common

We know which grocery stores are the most popular in America, but what do they all have in common? What makes a really good grocery store? Read on to find out what qualities every successful grocery store possesses.

1. Good parking

Costco Wholesale warehouse
A good parking spot can make your shopping experience that much better. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The problem with parking at good grocery stores is that if it’s a really good grocery store, the parking lot’s always going to be crowded just because the store’s so popular. If you’ve ever been to Costco on a Tuesday morning, though, you know the utter euphoria of getting a great parking spot at your favorite grocery store.

Next: Every shopper wants this from their favorite grocery store. 

2. Regular deals

costco shopper
Buying in bulk saves money. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Costco is another hugely popular American store. Costco gains a lot of its popularity thanks its killer deals. They can afford to do this by giving their customers the option of buying in bulk. Everybody loves a good deal, but everybody especially loves a good deal on groceries.

Next: Something for everyone 

3. Variety

People shopping in a large supermarket
There needs to be a wide array of types of food. | Ljupco/iStock/Getty Images

There should be something for everyone at a good grocery store. Just as a quality grocery store needs a good health food section, it also needs a good junk food aisle, a wide array of frozen foods, and a decent bakery. Especially if you’re shopping for your family, you want to be able to get everything you need (even stuff for the picky eaters) at one place.

Next: Everybody’s favorite part of going to the store.  

4. Samples

Costco samples
One of people’s favorite parts about a visit to Costco. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

A lot of America’s favorite grocery stores offer samples. Not only is it nice to snack on something while you shop, but the items the store is sampling are usually pretty good and worth purchasing. Kitchn named Costco the “King of samples.”

Next: This can make or break a store

5. A helpful staff

Jason Baglin restocks chips as shoppers line up inside Trader Joe's for the grand opening on 14th Street on March 17, 2006 in New York City. Trader Joe's, a specialty retail grocery store, has more than 200 stores in 19 states. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
Trader Joe’s is known for is helpful staff. | Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Trader Joe’s is one of the most popular grocery stores in America and they certainly have some of the nicest staff around. It definitely seems like they go out of their way to hire people who aren’t just skilled in the art of customer service, but genuinely happy people who love to help others out. A helpful staff is a big part of creating a positive grocery store experience.

Next: Stores that don’t have these are a total pain. 

6. Wide aisles

shopping cart in a grocery store aisle
The aisles need to be wide enough for the carts. | shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

If two carts can’t comfortably fit down an aisle, it’s too small. One of the biggest mistakes a grocery store can make is setting up its aisles too close together. Sure, you don’t need a cart every time you go shopping, but when you do, it’d be nice to be able to freely move around the store.

Next: Every good grocery store has this.  

7. A good flow

woman grocery shopping
Having a solid flow is important. | iStock/Getty Images

You shouldn’t feel confused when you walk into your neighborhood grocery store. Everybody knows you start with dry pantry foods and work your way to the frozen sections, with fresh produce somewhere in between. Every good grocery store has a natural, intuitive flow to it that helps guide customer traffic.

Next: Whole Foods nails this quality.  

8. Plenty of healthy options

whole foods produce
People want to make sure their families are happy and healthy. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Though expensive, there’s a reason stores like Whole Foods are so popular. People looking to eat healthier love a one-stop shop where they can buy everything they need, and know it’s going to be the healthiest option for their families. Not everyone likes to (or can) shop at Whole Foods, but people do like to see plenty of fresh, healthy options at their neighborhood grocery store.

Next: There’s nothing worse than waiting in an insanely long line to check out. 

9. Plenty of checkout lines

Male cashier with customers
Long lines are a pain. | Noel Hendrickson/iStock/Getty Images

Having enough employees doesn’t do any good if the store doesn’t have enough checkout lines. Not enough checkout counters leads to extremely long lines, and nobody likes long lines at the grocery store. Having plenty of self checkout options always helps. Additionally, for the days you don’t particularly feel like interacting with a cashier clerk, self checkout counters are a life saver.

Next: Your one-stop shop 

10. Everyday household needs

woman shops for cleaning supplies
People don’t want to make multiple trips. | Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images.

Good grocery stores sell more than just food, they have all of your bases covered. It’s always nice to get all of your groceries, cleaning supplies, and toiletries at the same store.

Next: How’s the salad bar? 

11. Fresh lunch options

Grocery store prepared food
Delicious prepared foods are a must. | Niloo138/iStock/Getty Images

Having a neighborhood grocery store that’s near your house or work that offers a good fresh lunch selection is definitely an added bonus. If a grocery store has a salad bar that looks days old and a sushi selection that looks like it was maybe picked up from the gas station next door, it might as well not have any lunch options at all.

Next: “Did anyone try to help you today?”

12. Lots of staff members

Whole Foods in Willowbrook, Ill.
If you have a question, you want to be able to ask someone quickly. | Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

Not only do you want nice, helpful staff members, you want there to be enough of them. There’s nothing worse than searching for something in a store and knowing that if you could just find an employee he’d be able to help you out. There should be enough staff to keep checkout lines at a reasonable length, and enough to help out customers with questions.

Next: Grocery stores need to stick to what they’re good at. 

13. Knowing your brand

A worker strolls into a Publix Super Market
You know what you’re getting. | Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

Good grocery stores stick to what they do best. Nobody goes to a health food store to buy junk food. Publix, for example, knows what they do best: subs and cakes, and they’re sure to capitalize on that. “The subs. The cakes. The cult that is Publix. It’s hard to tell if the food here is really as great as people say it is, but everyone walking around the store is so damn happy it’s impossible not to feel that same infectious joy. The cake won’t always be on sample, but the soft iced cookies are delicious,” says Kitchn.

Next: Signature store items 

14. Store classics

Trader Joe's beer is seen on the shelf during the grand opening of a Trader Joe's on October 18, 2013 in Pinecrest, Florida. Trader Joe's opened its first store in South Florida where shoppers can now take advantage of the California grocery chains low-cost wines and unique items not found in other stores. About 80 percent of what they sell is under the Trader Joe's private label. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Trader Joe’s has its own signatures. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Just as variety’s important, it’s also nice when a store has a few signature items that are unique to their brand. Trader Joe’s sells things that you can only get at Trader Joe’s, and so does Costco. Every year Trader Joe’s customers look forward to their signature holiday cookies.

Next: Store decorations 

15. Store decor

Shoppers enjoy the grand opening of a Trader Joe's on October 18, 2013 in Pinecrest, Florida. Trader Joe's opened its first store in South Florida where shoppers can now take advantage of the California grocery chains low-cost wines and unique items not found in other stores. About 80 percent of what they sell is under the Trader Joe's private label. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The interior shouldn’t be stressful. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

How a store is decorated is also a big factor. Customers want a grocery store they can feel comfortable in, not stressed. Things like overly harsh florescent lighting and white floors can put a damper on the experience, but stores that go out of their way to decorate for the holidays, provide nice lighting, and visually pleasing displays make their customers feel more at home.

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