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by Jeff Wilkin

Type A To Z

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Supermarket Sweep

I was in the mood for a chicken salad sandwich Wednesday night. Decided to make the purchase at the new Whole Foods grocery store at Colonie Center.

I generally try to stay away from opening days at any business. But as I generally try not to miss great sales — like $5.99 for a pound of chicken salad — I decided to brave the crowds.

If you’re dying to know a few details about the new store, die no longer. I can tell you Whole Foods seems like a decent place to fill a shopping cart.

I got there at 8:30, and assumed the evening rush would be all over. Wrong assumption. The place was packed, but it wasn’t the madhouse that the Niskayuna ShopRite was during the fall of 2011. I made my way slowly through the aisles — I’m still amazed at how some people treat shopping like they’re strolling in an Easter parade. They walk at leisure, pausing at the frozen vegetables and ice cream cases, considering a purchase the same way a philosopher might contemplate existentialism. When I found an opening, I rolled right by them.

The place, near the Sears entrance to Colonie Center, close to Central Avenue, isn’t as big as some of the huge Price Chopper supermarkets in the area. And I don’t think it’s particularly well lighted. But the Whole Foods guys seem to make the most of their space, and even had small mountains of charcoal and soft drinks stacked in the lobby.

I noticed a bunch of products I’d never seen in other stores. Red Jacket Orchards fruit drinks — made in New York with minimal processing — were buy one quart, get one free. So I grabbed two black courant-blueberry bottles and two apple-grape bottles, and they basically cost me $1.99 each. Grabbed four containers of store-made hummus, at $2.19 each, and found the spread both sturdy and spicy.

Ground beef hamburgers mixed with sweet onions — for this weekend’s adventures with charcoal — cost me $4.99 a pound. Picked up some bacon and some tater tots — an occasional guilty pleasure — and pushed over to the delicatessen.

I figured there would be a mob at the deli, but there were like six guys behind the counter. I ordered two pounds of chicken salad, and added a pound of tuna salad and a pound of potato salad to my bill. I was out of there in five minutes. The deli crew guys were all polite and helpful, but that was expected. Surly, scowling dudes slicing baloney or scooping macaroni salad would have been liabilities on opening day.

And just for the record and for our advertisers — I shop at just about every supermarket around here during the year. Price Chopper gets plenty of my business, for Coors Light on sale, and gourmet chocolate chip cookies that have subtracted cash and added calories to my personal budget. Gabriel’s Market in Scotia gets me for fresh hamburger during the summer time. Niskayuna’s Co-Op market is my place for Oscar’s Canadian bacon, Hannaford gets my business for salad-filled croissants during the holidays.

At Whole Foods, the biggest surprise came at the check-out. I was thinking I’d be in line for 20 minutes, but a “traffic cop” employee directing carts saw I only had 17 items — love those computerized receipts — and sent me right over to some smiling cat who scanned and bagged me right away. The guy — “Jerome” — asked me if I had found everything OK, how I had learned about the store. I’m sure all cashiers were asking the same questions.

Actually, I had learned about the store through an advertisement mailed to the house ... an advertisement that included a coupon good for $15 off a $50 purchase. I’m a sucker for supermarket coupons, too. Jerome got the ticket and I got $62 in goods for $47.

I took out three paper bags with handles, as I guess Whole Foods is trying to be environmentally friendly. The bags, from recycled paper, advertised the virtues of cooked collard greens. They’re high in fiber, bunches of vitamins and calcium, and low in calories, fat, sugar and sodium.

Never been a big fan of collards .... might pick up a bunch during my next trip to Whole Foods.

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