Everyone has a go-to grocery store. Whether it be location, deals or atmosphere, something keeps drawing you back. Recently, I expanded my horizons to check out the grocery stores around Gainesville – from the basics of Publix and Target to the not so basics of Earth Fare and Lucky’s Market. As someone who loves grocery shopping, this was an exciting day.
Price, amenities, atmosphere, availability of natural and specialty foods were the main factors taken into consideration when comparing these grocery stores. In order of best to worst, here is my take on Gainesville’s notable grocery stores.
1. Trader Joe’s
Most people at the University of Florida will agree that this is the best grocery store in Gainesville. With its surprisingly cheap prices, variety of great foods and free coffee, it’s hard to go wrong.
Not only does this store sell mostly natural food at about a dollar less (if not lower) than other stores, there are many unique foods to try. One item on its way to the Gainesville Trader Joe’s is dried watermelon. It sounds strange; but if it’s from Trader Joe’s, it has to be good and probably super cheap.
The most impressive aspect of the store, for those over 21, may be its wine selection. In this small market, about a quarter of the store is taken over by wine – and it’s only $2.99.
It’s a dangerous place to enter on a student budget. However, it has such great deals, and the mini-Target on 13th Street always has a plethora of skin care on clearance. Publix may have better deals on average, but Target appears to have slightly lower prices depending on what you’re buying. If you’re looking for shampoo or dried fruit, Target is probably the better bet if there isn’t a BOGO at Publix.
Publix lies in the middle range of grocery store pricing in Gainesville, so these two best Publix supermarkets were chosen for their location and their variety.
In my opinion, the best Publix in Gainesville is on SW 35 Blvd. This Publix has a massive selection of everything you need and everything you didn’t know you needed. Publix is where you can find the best two-for-one ice cream and cookie deals; whereas Trader Joe’s focuses on its brand of various healthy foods.
The other Publix located right on the edge of campus on 13th Street makes the list specifically for its location. It’s a medium-sized grocery store with a decent amount of what you need every day, and you can still snag a Pub-Sub after class.
4. Lucky’s Market
With a welcoming atmosphere comparable to Trader Joe’s, it’s easy to get lost in the aisles of Lucky’s. Most things in the store also lie on the healthier, more natural side even for skin care and cleaning products. Unlike Trader Joe’s, the prices are a bit on the higher end.
Also for those 21 and up, there’s a station in Lucky’s where you can “Sip ‘n Stroll” with a pint of beer. If you’re under 21 or just a foodie, there’s plenty of food samples lying about the store if you can find them.
5. Earth Fare
I didn’t need to spend long in Earth Fare to know it fell to the bottom of the list. It was a cute market with plenty of the basics, but the prices were, on average, much higher than my GPA, which isn’t very low. Atmosphere-wise, I also wasn’t impressed. The entire store is clean and well-kept, but it felt industrial and un-inviting. Overall, it wasn’t a favorite, and I was itching to head back to Trader Joe’s.
As far as grocery shopping goes, it’s hard not to have fun wherever you go. Now that you know who’s who of Gainesville grocery stores, go get those deals!