Six Brooklyn Destination Grocery Stores: Which Has the Best Prices?

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    Brooklyn has no shortage of everyday grocery chains like Key Foods and C-Town, but there are also a quickly growing number of bigger stores that are just starting to increase their footprint in the borough.

    With recent news of Gristedes overhauling its stores and a new Trader Joe’s coming to City Point — plus the previously announced openings of Williamsburg outposts of both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods — we thought it’d be an opportune time to look at some of Brooklyn’s biggest and best-known supermarkets.

    We visited six stores and compared the prices of a few staple ingredients: milk (organic and non-organic), eggs (organic and non-organic), kale, whole-wheat bread and a six-pack of Brooklyn Lager. Here’s what we found (also available in this spreadsheet).

    How do they stand up to your favorite grocery spots?

    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

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    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    Trader Joe’s, 130 Court Street in Cobble Hill

    Gallon milk (organic): $5.99
    Gallon milk (non-organic): $3.99
    Dozen eggs (organic): $3.99 (large brown)
    Dozen eggs (non-organic): $3.19
    Kale: $1.99 for a 10-ounce bag
    Loaf of whole-wheat bread: $2.99 on average
    Six-pack of Brooklyn Lager: $8.99

    Brooklyn’s single precious Trader Joe’s location — in the former South Brooklyn Savings Bank building at Court Street and Atlantic Avenue — is known for its constant crowds and lines that snake halfway through the store. The queue usually moves surprisingly fast, though: At about 5:45 p.m. on a Friday, among the worst shopping times, it took only about five minutes to get from the end of the line to the register.

    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    And battling the crowd is usually worth it, as TJ’s beat the other contenders’ prices for most items on our list. The produce selection can be hit or miss — and is priced per item rather than per pound — but the store is a safe bet for reasonably priced staples like milk, eggs, cheese, snacks and packaged goods. Pro tip: Know what you want before you get there. — Laura Leebove

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    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    Whole Foods Market, 214 3rd Street in Gowanus

    Gallon milk (organic): $4.99
    Gallon milk (non-organic): $3.99
    Dozen eggs (organic): $5.99
    Dozen eggs (non-organic): $3.49
    Kale: Two bunches for $4
    Loaf of whole-wheat bread: $4.29
    Six-pack of Brooklyn Lager: $9.99 (sale), $10.99 (regular price)

    Despite its location on the fetid Gowanus Canal, the 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue Whole Foods location, which opened in December 2013, is immaculate and well stocked. The store boasts a hot food bar in addition to fresh-enough-seeming produce and an accessible layout of packaged groceries.

    The shopping experience itself was quite pleasant, the store busy but far from packed at 6 p.m. on a Thursday. Although it often gets the nickname “Whole Paycheck,” Whole Foods didn’t fare too badly in our price comparison: At $4.99 a gallon, it’s the least expensive place to get a gallon of organic milk, and eggs were on par with most of the other grocers. — Hannah Frishberg

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    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    Fairway Market, 480-500 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook

    Gallon milk (organic): $7.99
    Gallon milk (non-organic): $3.99
    Dozen eggs (organic): $6.49
    Dozen eggs (non-organic): $4
    Kale: $1.99 for one bunch
    Loaf of whole-wheat bread: $3.50
    Six-pack of Brooklyn Lager: $9.99

    A mecca for South Brooklyn grocery shopping, Brooklyn’s sole Fairway location, in Red Hook, was notably wrecked by five feet of water during Hurricane Sandy. After a full renovation, the Red Hook Fairway reopened in 2013. On a recent Saturday morning, the main parking lot was nearly full, and the expansive, labyrinthine store was bustling with activity though not overly crowded. The checkout lines were three carts deep but moved quickly.

    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    Fairway’s olive bar and cheese selection are excellent, and the outdoor eating area has an unbeatable view of New York Bay. Price-wise, Fairway fell about in the middle — kale, bread and beer were reasonably priced, but a gallon of organic milk was a whopping $7.99. — Barbara Eldredge

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    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    Gristedes, 101 Clark Street in Brooklyn Heights

    Gallon milk (organic): $7.49
    Gallon milk (non-organic): $4.59
    Dozen eggs (organic): $5.99
    Dozen eggs (non-organic): $4.69
    Kale: $1.19 for one bunch
    Loaf of whole-wheat bread: $2.99
    Six-pack of Brooklyn Lager: $13.69

    Gristedes isn’t a chain known for its style. However, this store is on the nicer end of the Gristedes spectrum — perhaps because it was damaged by fire and renovated just in 2008. In spite of its awe-inspiring redesign, it’s just another quintessential New York grocery.

    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    The offering is mainstream, seemingly untouched by Brooklyn’s artisanal food craze, and yet overall it’s the most expensive of our picks, with a six-pack of beer going for $13.69 and organic milk for $7.49. The produce section isn’t magnificent, but offers a decent selection of basic fruits and veggies. When Brownstoner visited on an early Sunday afternoon, the store was nearly deserted apart from staff, who were exceptionally helpful.— Barbara Eldredge

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    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    Union Market, 402-404 7th Avenue in Park Slope

    Gallon milk (organic): $5.49
    Gallon milk (non-organic): $3.99
    Dozen eggs (organic): $6.99
    Dozen eggs (non-organic): $3.49
    Kale: $3.99 for one bunch
    Loaf of whole-wheat bread: $3.99
    Six-pack of Brooklyn Lager: $11.99

    Union Market is a neighborhood grocery shop with three locations in Brooklyn and one on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The quaint South Slope branch is lined by benches outside, with neat, narrow aisles within. Shopping there at 6 p.m. on a Thursday, some 10 or 20 folks meandered the local store, but lines and aisles were still comfortably navigable.

    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    Overall, Union Market was one of the more expensive groceries, charging $11.99 for a six-pack of beer. For many local families, though, the shop’s convenience on Union Street in densely populated Park Slope, down the block from the Park Slope Food Co-op, makes it easy to overlook the prices. — Hannah Frishberg

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    Brooklyn Grocery Store Comparison -- Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway

    Super Foodtown, 1420 Fulton Street in Bed Stuy

    Gallon milk (organic): $5.49
    Gallon milk (non-organic): $4.39
    Dozen eggs (organic): $5.99
    Dozen eggs (non-organic): $4.49
    Kale: $0.88 per pound
    Loaf of whole-wheat bread: Two for $5
    Six-pack of Brooklyn Lager: $9.98

    Foodtown is a regional chain with more than 50 locations across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but it seems that its “Super” counterpart is only available in Brooklyn. Though it’s tricky to find the Bed Stuy emporium’s two entrances — one each on Herkimer and Fulton streets — once you’re inside, Super Foodtown has a welcoming and warm feel. This place is a mega produce haven with great sales and a diverse selection.

    Price-wise, it’s about a tie with Whole Foods for its $0.88/pound kale, less-than-$10 beer and a great deal on sandwich bread. During an early-Sunday-afternoon trip the market was relatively empty and the staff friendly. — Maude Delice

    [Photos: Brownstoner Staff]

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