Friday before last, I got to tour the new (fancy!) Kroger Marketplace out on Chenal Parkway. (Full disclosure: I was invited by a Kroger PR person, I had a great time and was plied with wonderful samples of food, including sushi. Which makes me like Kroger a lot. I also left with a bag of goodies to bring home. Yum!) While I decidedly have mixed feelings about large grocery store corporations, several other people I knew were coming, and it sounded fun, so I went. And I’m so glad I did. One of the best things that happened was that I was reminded that real people work at grocery stores, too – and everyone I met that day was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their part of the store, ready to help people make good decisions about food. Which is encouraging. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Come along on the tour!
First of all? I like any grocery store where you walk in to this:
First, we headed over to the produce section. So pretty.
They have all KINDS of fruit. Baby pineapples!
Kat holding some kind of strange fruit. She seems happy about it.
Another fruit that I don’t remember the name of. I’m beginning to see why I don’t get invited to these kinds of things more often.
Kyran eating tiny grapes. That’s Sarah’s hand. She’s so helpful. I’m not at all sure the produce lady was near as amused at our antics as we were.
I think this might have been my favorite section.
Yes, I know you pay more for the stuff that’s all cut up for you, but HELLO. Pretty. Do you see the stuffed portobello mushroom caps?
Yep, that for sure was my favorite part. Until I got over here. Bulk bins. Of lots of yummy things you really don’t need but also some very helpful ones: raw sugar, different flours, nuts. I want them all.
And? You can make your own peanut, honey peanut, or even almond butter!
And then we went to my really really favorite part: the sushi.
Y’all, it was good. I’m no expert but I have eaten a fair amount of sushi and, truth be told, never even considered buying it from a grocery store. For that, fancy Kroger, I apologize. I would buy your sushi any day. Or eat a potentially embarrassing amount when offered it for free.
Savannah took a picture of my haphazard eating-of-sushi-with-chopsticks-from-a-paper-doily-on-a-napkin.
I returned the favor.
Next came the deli, with lovely meats and cheeses, which I did not manage to take a picture of because it is difficult to operate a camera when your hands are full of brie with toasted almonds and caramel sauce. Or goat cheese with chives. You wouldn’t want to get any of that on a lens, now would you?
Fortunately I did stop and snap this before I hit the olive bar. And yes, mom, I can hear you saying but you don’t even like olives and you are so right but that is the beauty of the fancy Kroger olive bar: it has SO MUCH MORE than olives. Like tabbouleh salad with cilantro and lemon. Or roasted cloves of garlic. Marinated mushrooms. Edamame hummus.
This was definitely my favorite part. I think I might could put a little cot there, right behind the olive bar. Did I mention there was this about 10 feet away?
And, ALERT – information that might actually be helpful to you – the fresh baked artisan bread here costs $2.99 a loaf. Plus you can slice it for free. Just ask for Linda, she’ll hook you up. Did you hear that, people? That is the sound of me throwing loaves into my cart, willy-nilly.
On we went to the meat department. And while pictures of meat generally aren’t that compelling to me, here’s one for you anyway.
Much of the meat department, in fact much of the store, specializes in prepared foods. There are a dazzling array of meals you can buy at almost any stage of preparation: cut up for you, assembled, seasoned, fully cooked. In fact this might be the biggest difference between this Kroger and most other Krogers. Say, for instance, mine.
That is, if it weren’t for one other tiny difference.
That’s right, bedding. Don’t fall asleep on the tour, Sarah! Oh, and furniture.
And stuff. This was not my favorite part of the store, mostly because I couldn’t seem to find any food over here. But it did have carpet.
Admittedly, I can see being at the grocery store and needing to pick up a gift for someone, in which case this would be quite handy. There were also bathroom, toy, and baby aisles.
And of course, if you need a really special gift:
Yep. Real diamonds. Third largest jeweler in the world. This might have been my favorite part.
Here we all are at the end of the tour:
Don’t we look cute? And maybe a little tired. Because y’all, this store is huge. I kept trying to take a picture that would convey the scale, and I learned that I am not super great at taking pictures that convey scale.
This is the best I did. But really you will just have to go see for yourself. Call me. I’m ready to go back.
It’s a really nice place and I would love for it to be my home store. Unfortunately, it’s not. Fortunately, they are going to do something like this to our little ole store over here in Indian Hills. I’ve already put in my vote for bulk bins and a sushi counter. Keep your fingers crossed…
PS: Several other people have written about this store, if you’d like to know more. Kelcie liked the peanut butter. Kerri liked the diet vanilla coke magic machine. And the whole place made Kyran happy. Real Food in Little Rock found out some interesting things about local food and large grocery stores. And Sarah perfectly articulates how it is to love the farmer’s market and still love your local grocery store, too.