In a way, I’m comparing apples and oranges, or organic apples and papayas. Fairway – “A Market Like No Other” – is known for its organic produce, crazy cheese section and being a foodie paradise. Grade A/Shop Rite in Shippan is known for… I dunno, having a pharmacy, a Goya aisle and being the only place in Stamford where you’ll see people paying with WIC cards next to people dripping in diamonds and fur. Actually, sometimes there’s some overlap there.
I’ve had a bit of an ongoing battle with Fairway. My major gripe has been the cashiers. They are few and far between, somewhat friendly, slow – there’s something missing in the cashier/customer relationship. I couldn’t put my finger on it until my last trip to Fairway. That cashier blew all of that out of the water. We just happened to be there the day the Stamford Police were having a fundraiser for Officer Troy Strauser who was seriously injured when he fell off a bridge during a foot chase. As we went through the line I started asking the cashier about it and it opened up a line of communication that hadn’t existed in the past. We chatted, she was awesome, and I felt good about being a Stamford resident. THAT just might be what this store was missing, a sense of community.
Grade A, on the other hand, is no doubt a part of the community. It’s been there forever – I think it was built by the Rippowam Indians, but don’t quote me on that. I must admit, they get ahead in the competition simply by being so darn close to me. I can drive there in a couple minutes. I’ve even been known to walk there – something that I’ve stopped doing due to the increasing murder rate here in good old Stammy…and the HEAT! They have pretty much all you need for everyday meals and they have an abundance of cashiers. Rarely do you have to wait in line, and even when you do they’re pretty quick.
Here’s a run-down…
- Fairway – huge lot with a bunch of one way signs that some folks don’t pay attention to with three entrances and exits
- Grade A – decent size lot with a one-way loop that some people don’t follow. They usually have someone directing traffic. Parking on a holiday can be an issue; they have an overflow lot across the street. The main lot has two entrances and exits that can be a bit tricky in traffic.
- Fairway – I suppose they win. Their produce section is three times the size of Grade A, at least. They certainly have a better cheese selection, seafood counter, bakery, olive oil section…you get the point. You pay more for it, but I guess that’s how this Capitalism works.
- Grade A – While they may not have the towering heirloom tomato display, they have things that Fairway doesn’t – Prevacid, tampons, horchata. Grade A has better prices on things like cabbage (30 cents a pound less) and meat, but I will never go to their fish counter again. Last time the fish was so old my fingers went right through it as I tried to slice it. Grody p’toady.
- Fairway – Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a manager there.
- Grade A – Management is always visible, right out on the floor with the cashiers. When things ring up wrong (and they do) they’re quick to remedy it. Side bar – in Connecticut, if something rings up at the wrong price you’re supposed to get it FREE!
Proximity to a liquor store:
- Fairway – Right fucking there! Tip – park in front of the liquor store and walk down to the entrance which is at the other side of the lot. When you exit Fairway you’ll be right next to the entrance to the liquor store and when you’re done there you’ll be right by your car.
- Grade A – It’s across the street, but you don’t want to walk it. Take your car, and if you need to make a left onto Elm Street when exiting just know it’s going to take a while and you will hate the population of Stamford by the time you’re done.
And finally… the other customers:
- Fairway – It’s never that packed, but the people who are there will undoubtedly be in your way, in front of what you want to buy and completely oblivious to your presence. These are the pseudo-1%ers. Maybe I’m a lightweight, but men in penny loafers piss me off.
- Grade A – These people are also oblivious to your presence, and they tend to be wider, so they’re extra in your way. When it’s busy it’s like a mad house of former bath salt connoisseurs with carts. But most of the time it’s filled with folks from the neighborhood, in all of our dirt-poor, working-class, every color of the rainbow glory.
So who wins? They both do. Because they really are two different types of supermarket I end up going to both – Grade A when it’s everyday stuff and Fairway when I’m looking for something extra special…and a mini whole wheat bagel.