Waltham Hannaford not the solution to grocery hell

There’s been something of a revolt on the Arlington list recently about the poor quality of service and availability of goods at the Arlington Stop ’n’ Shop, the bigger of the two full service grocery stores in town and the only one open after 9 pm. The frustrations range from inexplicably poor product selection to inexplicable unavailability of stock items (parsley, skim milk in anything smaller than gallon containers, shredded wheat cereal)—and those are just my stories; there were somewhere north of 30 individuals complaining on the list. My contention has long been that if Stop ’n’ Shop had to contend with competition like the grocery stores that we had back in the South, or in Seattle, or pretty much anywhere we have lived, they’d fold like yesterday’s news.

When I heard that Hannaford had opened a store in (relatively) nearby Waltham, I was ecstatic. The Hannafords that I had visited in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee were large, well-lit, well stocked stores that ran the product gamut from organic produce to cornflakes. I had high hopes that this would be our new store of choice.

Sadly, my hopes were dashed. Hannaford had taken over an existing store, and the corporate dark color paint and wood, so well suited for large open buildings, made the small interior space seem cramped and low. The meat counters looked good, but there was no tuna at the fish counter, and the produce, while plentiful, left something to be desired in freshness and eye appeal. The rest of the store just felt cramped and low, and the checkout staff were too busy with their own conversations to actually make eye contact with us.

Ironically, I may have found an answer in the other Arlington store, Foodmaster aka Johnny’s, which though smaller and less convenient seems friendlier and better stocked. But I’ll have to continue to hope that a real grocery chain will come along and beat the stuffing out of Stop ’n’ Shop, because it appears on first glance that Hannaford won’t be the one to do it.