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Living well at the grocery store

Posted by Rona Fischman May 22, 2009 03:06 PM

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In a doctor’s office waiting room, the conversation turned to how overpriced a certain supermarket was.

“Oh! You mean the one in town A, but the same store in town B is pretty competitive. When I first moved here I went to the one in town A, and I thought I’d starve in Massachusetts. “

The same store chain? So, chains do not all price the same. That was a revelation to some in the waiting room. Some chains are individually owned and operated; some just price differently depending on demand.

I knew this. I used to live in Winter Hill, Somerville. The nearest grocery store was the Star Market there. The prices were outrageous. Once we figured this out, we only shopped there for fill-in items. It sort of became our extended convenience store. We grocery shopped elsewhere; it was worth the gas.

Why was it so overpriced? One theory was that it was walking distance to Mystic Housing project, so it had a captive audience of shoppers without cars. If that theory is true, they were intentionally inflating the prices on a poor population…evil. Time went by. We moved away. A Stop and Shop opened up on McGrath Highway. That Winter Hill Star went out of business. Good riddance.

What’s this got to do with Living Well? One of the things that you will spend thousands on in your new town is groceries. So, when you are town-shopping find out what food prices are doing compared to where you are now. The results may surprise you. The lowest prices are not always in the lowest income areas. If your groceries are $50 a week more in the new place, that is going to add up very fast.

What to do: look at your typical grocery list. What are the five most expensive items you get regularly? Shop for those things in your new town. See if there is a supermarket that will suit your needs without breaking you budget. Try to break even with what you have now within a reasonable drive of your new town.

Where is the best grocery shopping in Massachusetts? Supermarkets are important, but so are specialty shops.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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