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The New York Times reports on the vast supermarket wasteland that is Westchester County, just north of New York City, a collection of bedroom communities that features some of the least inspired supermarkets in the country.

The NYT describes it as follows, in the fourth paragraph of the piece:

    ”There are long sessions to be spent in the car, searching for the right products and avoiding the wrong conditions - like the bad odors that sometimes permeate the entrance of the ShopRite in Yonkers, or the puddles of beef blood seen recently on the floor near the meat counter of the Stop & Shop in Ossining, where the deli clerk was coughing on the salami as she sliced it.

Despite the fact that the food stores in Westchester County are on average smaller than most of the nation’s supermarkets, they tend to generate more dollars per square foot because their customer base is a little more affluent. To a great extent, this is because of real estate costs, which can make store development in the best communities to be problematic.

That’s not to say there aren’t some nice stores. The NYT notes that there is a Balducci's in Scarsdale – though for some unknown reason, it doesn’t mention that there is a great Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers that is both high volume and high profit.

But what is missing, the NYT writes, are the extras that are found in abundance in other parts of the country, such as “large salad bars, roomy sit-down eating areas, full-service bakeries with patisseries, in-store banks and dry cleaners, and coffee bars. But such luxuries are not currently available in most of the county's 109 supermarkets and grocery stores, among them 20 A.&P. stores, 13 Stop & Shop stores, 10 Food Emporium stores, and 24 independent stores, like Chappaqua Village Market, Key Foods and I.G.A.”
KC's View:
Sure, part of the problem is real estate. But a big part of the problem is a lack of vision…which is something that Stew Leonard’s proved when it opened its marvelous Yonkers store.

The NYT also doesn’t note that Whole Foods has opened a great store in White Plains, which seems to be drawing people from a number of nearby communities, and which stands as more evidence that a unique approach to marketing and merchandising can captivate customers and capture sales dollars.

What we’d really like to see happen is for Wegmans for find its way to Westchester. Man, would that cook…n more ways than one.

(By the way, we know what we’re talking about in this case…we spent the first 18 years of our life in Westchester County, and currently live just across the border in Connecticut.)