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Two readers contacted the Reporter last week to say they had received a phone call from a market research company asking about grocery shopping on Mercer Island. Shoppers were overheard talking about the survey at Albertson’s, asking employees if the store was closing. What does it mean? they asked.
It was a fairly detailed survey one caller reported, saying that the interviewer asked for specifics regarding Island stores. The caller was asked how often she shopped, what she bought - but most importantly - what she would like to see in a grocery on Mercer Island.
Such market studies are to be expected given the kind of changes the Island will see in the coming years. There will be many more people — particularly in the Town Center. Many will simply be able to walk a block or two for what they need.
Why do we care? Well, we spend hundreds of dollars each month at the grocery. The USDA estimates that in 2014 a family of four purchasing a standard basket of healthy, nutritious foods (no alcohol, cleaning supplies, paperback books or dishes) spends around $900 a month. A single man will spend $279 - on food alone; a woman, slightly less of course.
But even more important is that what people want and expect from a grocery has changed.
Many folks are cooking less, preferring the convenience of prepared foods. Others are looking for different kinds of foods — those considered healthier or that are raised in a more sustainable fashion.
And people view their grocery shopping experience differently. We hanker for choice and variety but also a place to sit and eat, read a newspaper or meet a friend.
Such places are already popping up around here. What is good about all of this is that someone is paying attention to what we want.
Of course, we want healthy choices but also variety and low cost. A few tables would be nice but also a place to park. We want to retain the kosher deli at Albertsons, the wonderful people who work at our stores here and the fabulous flowers both inside and out, at QFC.
We want it all.