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03/20/2013

The 'Perfect' Store

Recently, I attended a focus group where eight shoppers were offering candid advice and ideas about how to create the perfect supermarket.

Four men and four women of varying backgrounds, education, professions, etc., were present, and all were very enthusiastic and engaged in the process. After all, this was the opportunity to plan the perfect store where they could visualize all of the ideal shopping elements in one place.

So that got me thinking: What would my perfect store look like? The store would be in the Chicago area, where I live.

My first test was to consider my qualifications to pursue this exercise. Since I'm the primary supermarket shopper in the family and visit numerous stores on a weekly basis, I considered myself competent to handle this assignment. Then I approached three of my adult children to conduct the same analysis and broaden the study. The final part of the informal process was to mix in the focus group conclusions with our company research and shopper insights information in preparation to evaluate the perfect store.

During a Saturday, I began my trek and visited 10 stores at random, all of which I regularly frequent. As you will see, they span large supermarkets, smaller independent grocers, a convenience store and pharmacy. I then took the best features from each and compiled them into the perfect store.

Jewel-Osco: 182 stores in the Midwest. Broad selection of branded products at lower prices. Full pharmacy with a drive-up window.

Dominick's: 150 stores in the Chicago area. Clean, predictable and easy to navigate. Excellent floral department.

Joe Caputo & Sons: Three stores. Great fresh produce and ethnic foods sections. High-energy shopping experience.

The Fresh Market: Three stores. Wide selection of high-quality private brand products. Superior deli.

Pride convenience stores: 27 stores nationwide. Easy in and out. Growing food service choices.

Sunset Foods: Five stores. Clean, new shopping carts. Broad array of frozen foods. An extra attendant at every checkout aisle loads products on the conveyor belt for you.

Mariano's Fresh Market: Nine stores and growing quickly. Ready-to-eat products. High-quality food service. Active product sampling area. Large assortment of nonfoods.

Whole Foods Market: More than 340 stores in U.S. Go-to place for healthy foods. Restaurant-style food service seating area.

Walgreens: More than 8,000 stores. Convenient. Very good selection of seasonal items. Knowledgeable pharmacists. Growing food section.

I plan to visit some other stores to continue adding to my list. These are the components of my perfect store. Put them all together, and I would never shop anywhere else.

The next time you're in Chicago, check out these stores. Maybe we'll bump into each other in one of the aisles.


Since I'm the primary supermarket shopper in the family and visit numerous stores on a weekly basis, I considered myself competent to handle this assignment.

– Harry Stagnito,

President and CEO, Stagnito Media