Category Archives: grocery

Fred Meyers

Fred Meyers Grocery Chain

National U.S. Grocery Store Chain – Primarily West Coast

Considered a hypermarket superstore, headquartered in Portland, the chain was founded in Portland Oregon in 1922 by Fred G. Meyer. Today they are located in the western United States specifically Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, and Alaska. They merged with Kroger in 1999 but retain their Fred Meyer branding. They specialize in one-stop shopping hosting complete grocery supermarket, drugstore, banking, clothing, jewelry, home decor, home improvement, gardening, electronics, restaurants, coffee shops, shoes, sporting goods, and toys. They spread from Portland to Seattle in the 1960’s acquiring Seattle based Marketime Drugs and the Roundup Company. By 1968 they operated in Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, and Montana with over 48 retail locations. The first full-fledged Seattle store was opened that same year. They spread in the 70’s through the Valu-Mart discount chain and its locations leased by Weisfield’s and joined the Weisfield’s owned stores in 1975 with some locations leased by Associated Grocers in 1973. Around the same time they opened their first store in Alaska. By 1977 Marketime was renamed to Fred Meyer. Fred G. Meyer died on September 2, 1978 at age 92. In 1984 Fred Meyer acquired Grand Central of Salt Lake City Utah and converted them to Fred Meyers. By the 1990’s they expanded into California with the first store in Chico, then attempted a second store in Redding followed by Sacramento. These locations were closed and didn’t succeed, the Redding site turned into a Walmart in 1996. Kroger acquired the properties during the 1990’s. In 1997 Fred Meyer acquired Smith’s Food and drug in Salt Lake City although continued to operate separate operations. They acquired Ralph’s Grocery in 1998 Los Angeles and QFC of Seattle. They still maintained separate operations with Fred Meyer as the holding company. Many mergers later, they became the fifth largest food and drug store in the nation. By 1997 they converted their Columbia Falls and Kalispell stores into Smith’s Food and Drug. By 1999 they were merged with Kroger of Cincinnati Ohio, and in 2000 the Arizona Fred Meyer stores (all of which were formerly Smith’s) were re-branded as Fry’s Marketplace. 2004 the Smith’s Food and Drug assumed operations of the Utah Fred Meyer stores which were also re-branded as Smith’s Marketplace. Kroger and Fred Meyer stores are slowly becoming more similar in branding, management, and merchandising. One of the Fred Meyers in Seattle merged its operations with QFC keeping its QFC Marketplace branding, and is the only one of its kind. (Capital Hill neighborhood) By 2018 Fred Meyer’s stopped selling guns and ammunition to people under the age of 21. Fred Meyers employs Kroger’s manufacturing creating the brands Kroger, Fred Meyer, Kivu Coffee, Country Oven, Everyday Living, FMV – For Maximum Value, Moto Tech, Private Selections, HD Designs, Michael Morgan, Great Northwest, GNW, Curfew, Kidz Korner, Splash Spa, Simple Truth, Psst, Homesense, and Naturally Preferred.

They established their rewards program in 2004 so that customers received one point for every $5 they spend, and upon 100 points during a 13 week cycle receive $5 in rebate vouchers. This changed in 2007 to one point per dollar spent and needing to earn 500 points during a 13 week cycle to receive a rebate voucher. This became tied into their credit card. By 2011 they switched from MasterCard to Visa, using the same point system. They also began giving 15 cents off fuel per 100 fuel points.

July 2010 they claimed they would no longer offer plastic bags at any of its 10 Portland stores due to environmental impacts. This was followed by City of Portland banning the use of plastic bags in groery and big box stores in October 2011.

Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5

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Trader Joes

The Trader Joe’s Chain
~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions as a 5 stars out of 5 ~

Manifested and created by the German grocery store chain Aldi – Trader Joe’s is the Americanized version of Aldi Markt or Aldi North. They tapped the American kitch and spirit of what middle class America wants with an affordable price that catches the budget. But it is different and quite unique, as it is driven by American culture, philosophy, and business practices.

I was first introduced to the shop when living in California the wee stages of Y2K. (year 2000 for the Generation X crowd) Back then, there wasn’t many stores around America. When I moved to Colorado in 2005, i was saddened there were none. It was at that time my favorite grocery store and I really appreciated the food quality, the pricing, and their business model. I can’t say I fully feel the same way today now that Trader Joe’s is in pretty much every state with locations everywhere. By 2015 they became a major grocery store competitor. By the beginning of 2018 they have over 480 stores in America expanding 43 states as well as the District of Columbia. With the growth comes sub-standard practices. They have become a bit more generic and similar to practices that regular grocery chains use. Their prices have increased substantially. Food quality is not so great and they over-use plastic and packaging contributing to the great trash problem on the planet.

Although birthed as its manifestation today being a branch of Aldi Markt (Aldi North) from Germany it was originally founded by Joseph “Joe” Coulombe in 1958 as the Pronto Market convenience store which mimicked 7-11 style and operation located in Los Angeles. He weaved the idea of the Trader Joe’s South Seas motif after vacationing in the Caribbean borrowing its Tiki kitch style as it was very popular motif in the 50’s and 60’s. It wasn’t until 1967 when it was called “Trader Joe’s” and appeared as such with one store on the Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, California. He leased out space with local butchers to provide fresh meat, operated a sandwich shop within, offered fresh cut cheese and squeezed orange juice.

Trader Joes really didn’t become the genius idea it is today until being owned in 1979 by German entrepreneur Theo Albrecht who purchased the store from Joe as a personal investment for his family. By 1987 Joe was succeeded by John Shields as CEO who expanded the market into Arizona in 1993 and the Pacific Northwest by 1995. By 1996 they opened stores in the Boston area opening the East Coast market. By 2001 Dan Bane took over being CEO expanding to 156 stores within 15 American states. Theo died in 2010 passing the Trader Joe’s business on to his family becoming even more so the Americanized Aldi Markt.

The Good
Trader Joe’s has unique items, still good pricing, and matches the populous generation’s budgets. It is still one of the best stores in America. In 2016 Trader Joes made a goal to have all the eggs they sell in Western STates to come from cage-free suppliers by 2020, and all eggs nationally to be cage-free by 2025.

The Bad
With its growth has come sub-standard quality and practices, pushing out local markets and chains. While this is normal for any major growth of a company, their practices are beyond secretive. Reports have claimed at the majority of Trader Joe’s products are made on equipment that doesn’t separate out production for those of philosophical or health-concerned needs. The equipment is exposed to dairy, nuts, meat, and non-kosher foods. In 2017 they claimed to have invented the “puff dog” – a roll of spiced sausage meat wrapped in a puff pastry, but British and Commonwealth Media challenged their claim by stating this was already a traditional British savoury snack.

The Ugly
Trader Joes uses too much packaging causing it to be a plague on the environment. This has caused Trader Joes to rank low on Greenpeace’s sustainable seafood report card stating they have excessive packaging with even produce sealed in plastic and utilizing a business mode that forces consumers to buy large enough quantities to encourage waste. They have been known for their lack of transparency about their sources of their products.

Stores reviewed:

Products reviewed:

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EBT/SNAP – Not just food stamps

Electronic Benefit Cards (EBT)

Historically known as “Food Stamps”, EBT or the “Electronic Benefits Card” is a state operated program to assist no or low income families with monthly food expenses. There are however much more benefits to the cards than just monthly food allowance. The card can get you discounts and admissions to family museums and/or events. Just because poverty has given you a hard time recently, doesn’t mean your children have to suffer and not experience educational programs, museums, and ability to play with other children.

This article is centered around Colorado as that is my home state, however, many of these benefits extend to other states and other state recipients can benefit on these when coming to Colorado.

The Food selection of the EBT card in Colorado can be used for food and grocery purchases, food deliveries from Schwans, Pizza from Papa Murphy’s (and other take-n-bake outlets some of which will cook the pizza for you for an addition $1-2), Energy Drinks (has to have a food nutrition label on it), Fresh Produce at Farmer’s Markets, Starbucks in Grocery Stores, Seeds/Plants that grow food, live lobsters/shellfish, birthday cakes, special event cakes (unless decoration makes up more than 50% of cake), non-ornamental pumpkins, and gift baskets for the holidays (as long as all contents are edible and don’t contain prohibited items). Showing your EBT Card in Denver can get you and your family in for $1 each admission to the Denver Children’s Museum and the Denver Museum of Natural History.


  • Look up your state here:


    Double Up Food Bucks – Colorado

    Denver, Colorado:

    • Children’s Museum – $1 admission ticket for each family member.
    • Denver Museum of Natural History – $1 admission per person up to 10 in party.

      Lafayette, Colorado

    • WOW Children’s Museum – $10 per family per year.


      Bellevue, WA

    • KidsQuest Children’s Museum – $3 admission

      Everett, WA

    • Imagine Children’s Museum – $3 admission

      Olympia, WA

    • Hand’s On Children’s Museum – Free admission

      Seattle, WA

    • Living Computers: Museum + Labs – $1 daily admission OR $10 Family Memberships
    • Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) – $2 per person
    • Pacific Science Center – Family Memberships for $19/YEAR
    • Seattle Children’s Museum – $1 per person with EBT or ProviderOne Card

      Tacoma, WA

    • The History Museum – $1 for an individual OR $2 for the whole family
    • The Tacoma Art Museum – $1 for an individual OR $2 for the whole family
    • The Museum of Glass – $1 for an individual OR $2 for the whole family
    • Tacoma Children’s Museum – Donations Only
    • My kiddos at Tacoma Children’s Museum

      General Services and Purchases:

    • AMAZON PRIME $5.99/month :
    • Amazon Prime for $5.99/month
    • Bertoglio’s Pizza
    • Community-supported agriculture programs including organic delivery services sometimes accept EBT.
    • Farmer’s Markets (not all, but most – and some will double your money value – i.e. $20 worth of produce for $10)
    • Fast Food Restaurants (certain ones in certain states):
    • Food and groceries from most chain grocery stores like Albertsons, King Soopers, Safeway, Trader Joes, Costco, Walmart, City Market, Fred Meyers, Cheapies, etc. SNAP EBT Locator
    • Hot and Ready Pizzas at 7/11 (buy frozen with EBT and they’ll cook it afterwards on site)
    • Internet (Free and discounte):
    • Internet Essentials and Low Cost Laptops
    • Leonardi’s Pizza (inside Winco) ($1 cash per pizza to get it cooked)
    • Papa Murphy’s
    • Schwan’s Food Delivery Trucks (does not cover delivery charge)
    • Starbucks within Grocery Stores that accept EBT
    • Subway Sandwiches (inside gas stations)

    Recommended Reading:

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    Rosewood Market (Columbia, South Carolina)

    Rosewood Market
    * 2803 Rosewood Dr * Columbia, SC 29205 * (803) 256-6410 * *

    A nice alternative to Whole Foods … this wonderful local natural grocery store and community center has all of your natural, organic, and healthy lifestyle grocery and health needs. Still high priced like Wholefoods (but a bit more affordable), Rosewood Market is worth the support. If you live in or will be travelling through Columbia, South Carolina – this is a great place for grocery shopping and finding out about up-to-date community events. Rosewood Market was opened in 1973, originally as a restaurant called the “Basil Pot”, and began carrying groceries until it took over. The Cafe is spectacular, tasty, and good healthy food. They pride themselves on local foods, fresh produce, organic and free range meats. They have a Deli, cater, and have a outside dining patio. We’ve had the pleasure to visit the store many times, and have indulged in their fine cooking, baking, and creations. Rating 4.5 stars out of 5.

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    Dream Dinners : Quick meals for the weekender traveler


    Dream Dinners @ Pigly Wiggly

    * *

    We first discovered this little “making life easier” treat when my co-workers and company chipped in and got us $100 worth of “Dream Dinners” – a service we’ve never heard of before until this event. As we were in recovery mode from the birth of our baby … they generously helped out with making meals easy on us. The service is brilliant, as they make meals easy to do especially for when you don’t have much time to gather ingredients and cook. Realized quickly the meals would be grand for taking on outings, picnics, and camp-outs. The company was founded on a mission of bringing together families around the dinner table, providing everything needed to assemble great dinners to enjoy with meal preparation times under an hour. Here in Columbia, South Carolina they are based out of the Pigley Wigley grocer stores. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.


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    The Baby Grocery Store (Charlotte, North Carolina)


    The Baby Grocery Store
    * 10225 Park Rd * Charlotte NC 28210 * (704) 543-8635 * Curbside Pick-up – (704) 543-8637 * * *

    A unique little boutique and grocery store that is styled like a “Whole Foods For Babies” is set in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. Travelers with babies might want to take a gander through these aisles. We discovered this little gem while taking a “cloth diapering class” which was offered free by Ivy’s Diaper Service in Charlotte in the baby / community room hosted by this store. Its a unique all-inclusive grocery store just for babies including natural, organic, and non-GMO food products, fresh and frozen meals, cloth diapers, disposable diapers, wipes, and gear all from companies that are set to minimize the environmental impact of babies and keeping infants safe and healthy. Great business idea, great model, and looks like its building a great community around it. Browsing their aisles as we’re expecting soon, we found a nice selection around. Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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    Aldi Grocery Stores

    Aldi Grocery Stores (North and South)
    ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

    Aldi Grocery Store
    * *

    One of my favorite affordable international grocery stores. I was first introduced to them in their home country of Germany by my good friend Vanessa and have been hooked on them through my international travels ever since. Affordable, simple, and economic. I’ve continued to enjoy them through my travels in Australia, Europe, England, and Ireland. Aldi is a chain made up of two groups – the “Aldi North” (Aldi Markt) that has its headquarters in Essen and “Aldi Sud” headquartered in Malheim an der Ruhr. They were started by Germany’s richest man, Karl Albrecht with his brother Theo (Germany’s 2nd richest man). They now have over 2,500 stores in western, northern, and eastern Germany, and Aldi Sud’s with 1,600 stores in western and southern Germany. Internationally, they can be found in Denmark, France, the Benelux countries, the Iberian peninsula and Poland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and Australia. In the United States; Aldi Nord is the parent company of Trader Joes. Trader Joe’s is simply the Americanized version of Aldi Nord. Aldi was started in 1913 as a small store in Essen by Karl and Theo’s mother. The sons apprenticed in the shop and took over a food shop formerly ran as the “cheapest food source”. After World War II, the brothers took their mother’s business and opened another retail outlet nearby and by 1950 had over 13 stores. Their idea was to subtract the legal maximum rebate of 3% before sale to give customers additional discount. They split the company into the North and South by 1960 when they disputed over the sale of cigarettes at the till. By 1962 they came up with the Aldi name and became separate legal entities in 1966. They expanded internationally in the 1970s. The brothers retired in 1993 and gave most of their wealth away to foundations. To cut costs, they are “no frills” and expect customers to be orderly, bring their own bags, and until recently only accepted cash. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Review by Leaf McGowan.

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    Maryhill Fruitstand

    Maryhill Fruitstand
    * 125 Maryhill Hwy, Maryhill/Goldendale, Washington 98620509.773.4695 *

    A great little fruit and vegetable stand enroute to the infamous American Stonehenge along the Columbia River. Friendly staff and good prices, fresh fruits and vegetables as well as tasty preserves. They also have dried fruits, nuts, chocolates, and other local farmer made products. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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    West Side Bargain Mart (Old Colorado City, Colorado Springs)

    Bargain Mart

    * 3135 West Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs * 80909 * (719) 685-4500 *

    Bargain Mart – one of my favorite discounted groceries hosts proudly adverts claiming they are the ‘lowest priced groceries in town’ – which they are unquestionably in this town, the most affordable bargains you can find. Its because they deal in the discounted grocery, closeouts, overstocks, and damaged freight goods. Here you can get most high brand salad dressings that usually cost you $3 a bottle, for a great deal of 2 dressings for a $1.25. Started up by John and Jean Fowler, it was taken over by Jim and Diane Krug to provide an alternative for west-side shoppers boasting having 70’s pricing scales. There are two others in the area – on the east side of the Springs and Manitou Springs – all different owners. Here you find a variety of foods – always a treasure trove of finds – always different, though some brand names can be seen there on a frequent basis. They carry the stuff that premiere and pricey grocery stores think they can’t sell – dented cans, surplus that might have torn labels or missing labels, improperly guled cereal boxes, inventory at King Soopers that someone opened up on the shelf to take a single item from, now making the set un-sellable there – all of these items go to a reclamation center to determine what should be boxed up for discount outlets like Bargain Mart, disposed of, or given to charities. Bargain Mart weeds through the surplus and won’t carry anything that is perishable which makes them different than alot of their competitors. They also have alot of organic and natural foods in their inventories.
    I’ve found lots of Starbucks coffee, high-end teas such as Oregon Chai, A Taste of Thai, and other great finds. They also have electronics, household goods, and clothing in their offerings. I often get Vitamin Water, Propel, and Gatorade for 50 cents a bottle there. For the soda drinkers, you usually can get your can of coke or pepsi for 25 cents a can. Of course my most favorite grocery store – is Trader Joe’s, where you get perfectly packaged, brand new unique grocery stuff for comparable prices to Bargain Mart – but alas, there are no Trader Joes in the state of Colorado. Therefore my shopping plan is check first at Bargain Mart, write down on a list of what-can-wait for my Trader Joe trips to New Mexico I do every other month, and then its off to the Vitamin Cottage, King Soopers, or Safeway. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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