Thursday, November 12, 2015

Will Mariano’s experience become just another version of Krogering?

It seems to be the fad these days in shopping for groceries – many Chicago-area residents take some pride if they happen to live within a short commute of a Mariano’s.

The latest Chicago-area fad ...
From my own experience, the stores stock several items that the Jewel might consider to be luxury, and also offer a prepared foods section that puts the aforementioned chain’s deli counters to shame.

SO WHAT SHOULD we think now that Roundy’s, the Milwaukee-based company that owns Mariano’s, has been bought out by that ubiquitous chain of supermarkets whose very name has become synonymous with shopping for food.

I’m talking about Cincinnati-based Kroger Foods.  Will taking a trip to Mariano’s soon become a slightly-more urban version of “Krogering?” And no, I don’t mean the slightly racier definition of the term that the website provides for the term.

Now we in Chicago don’t really have Kroger supermarkets – although those Food4Less stores that exist in many suburbs are an offshoot of Kroger and many products bearing the Kroger brand are sold there.

My own memories of being able to go Krogering date back to college in Bloomington, Ill., when they had one of their supermarkets literally a two-block walk from my college dorm room.

NOT EXACTLY THE upscale atmosphere or image that the Mariano’s stores try to convey. Although one that is common enough across the nation. There’s no doubt that the company has some financial heft.

And it’s not like those of us who do our shopping at “da Jewels” have some reason to be high-and-mighty.

Besides, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday how one of the possibilities of this merger is that the financial might of Kroger could be put to use to further expand the Mariano’s experience.

... has become part of a national institution
Could we see their stores in even more Chicago neighborhoods and suburban communities? Could this be the “military might,” so to speak, that gives us a Marianos’s takeover of the Chicago food market wars?

COULD IT EVEN turn out that the Kroger stores across the country – just over 2,600 scattered across 34 of the 50 states – get themselves a move upscale in their retail experience?

Perhaps a touch of some of the finer items that a Mariano’s convert has come to expect will be found there! That could be an improvement for people whose lot in life is to be stuck buying their food from the Piggly Wiggly!

For what it’s worth, the Chicago Tribune reported that Kroger officials said Wednesday in announcing the deal that Roundy’s and Mariano’s will continue to operate as distinct divisions within the greater Kroger Co.

We’re not about to see the blue-and-white Kroger logo take over the Mariano’s any time in the near future.

WITH NO STORES set to close in the near future, and the possibility of expansion, it could turn out to be a boost up for those people who persist in doing all their food shopping at Mariano’s. (Personally, I hit a few different stores, usually looking for who offers the best price deal on certain staples I buy regularly).

I’ll admit that Mariano’s does offer some interesting buys that aren’t easily replicated at other supermarket chains. Although there is a degree to which all of this can be carried too far.

For as my brother used to say whenever he would try to knock down the pretentiousness of people who thought they were better than everybody else because they shopped at a Mariano’s, “A box of Lucky Charms is a box of Lucky Charms no matter where you buy it.”


No comments: