Americans depend on supermarkets for everything from fresh produce and frozen dinners to outdoor equipment and pharmaceuticals. It's important to find a store you can trust to consistently provide good value and customer service. With ubiquitous national grocery chains like Kroger and Safeway vying for consumers' attention, sometimes it's easy to forget about smaller competitors like these regional chains, which have amassed loyal followings with their unique policies and products and superior service.
Where to Find Them: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia
Publix tied for the title of America's favorite grocery store in a 2017 Market Force survey of 12,700 shoppers. The Lakeland, Florida-based, employee-owned grocery chain ranked first for store cleanliness, ease of finding products, and checkout speed. The chain also operates 11 Aprons Cooking Schools and offers online shopping through Instacart and curbside pickup.
Where to Find Them: New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia
Tied for first place in the Market Force survey, Wegmans is a 97-store supermarket chain headquartered in Rochester, New York, and operating throughout the mid-Atlantic and New England. It was top-ranked for its specialty departments. Most locations now are sprawling superstores with everything from fresh dim sum and sushi bars to household essentials.
Where to Find Them: Texas
Serving more than half the Texas market, with more than 350 stores throughout the state — plus a few in northern Mexico — H-E-B is beloved by Lone Star Staters for its dedication to locally sourced foods and house-made products like salsa verde and fresh tortillas. The stores' large interiors hold sample stands and in-store events, and several different store brands offer favorite Texan specialties to suit any budget.
Where to Find Them: Texas
Central Market is a smaller Texas-based chain owned by H-E-B, with nine locations that boast full-service takeout counters, catering services, and culinary schools. It has an extensive line of organic store-brand products and a limited selection of packaged foods to place greater emphasis on meat, seafood, bulk products, and fresh produce, including rare fruits and vegetables that can't be found at competing retailers.
Where to Find Them: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C.
Harris Teeter is "Your Neighborhood Food Market" throughout the Southeast, beloved across generations for offering the usual essentials along with regional delicacies like sweet tea and stone-ground grits. Customers have the option to shop online and pick up products in person through the Express Lane service. But it may be worth shopping in-store: Harris Teeter is known to hand out free sugar cookies.
Where to Find Them: Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Hy-Vee is an employee-owned chain of supermarkets throughout the Midwest offering full-service bakery, deli, and floral departments in addition to fresh takeout restaurants for made-to-order salads, Asian cuisine, and more. Stores generally feature a HealthMarket section stocked with natural and organic products. Adjoining gas stations have their own standalone marts and low fuel prices.
Where to Find Them: Idaho, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington
These no-frills grocery stores operating throughout the western U.S. keep prices extraordinarily low by purchasing directly from manufacturers and spending less on repackaging, as well as by not accepting credit cards and requiring shoppers to bag their own items. WinCo stores also boast robust bulk sections with more than 800 ingredients by the pound, plus helpful recipes.
Where to Find Them: Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi
Winn-Dixie is such a Southern favorite, it even has a children's book named after it. The Jacksonville, Florida-based grocery stores have hot bars offering rotisserie chicken and other ready-made dinners and have carried more than 60 private-label brands over the years. Perhaps most notable is Chek soft drinks, with more than 20 different flavors in regular, diet, and caffeine-free iterations.
Where to Find Them: New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania
ShopRite stores are individually owned and operated by members of a retailer-owned co-op, Wakefern Food Corp., which handles merchandising and distribution. The stores run concurrent sales to help customers find better value. The chain is also distinct for offering an online shopping service since 1999 for customers to have groceries prepared for pickup or delivered.
Where to Find Them: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
In 1916, Piggly Wiggly pioneered the trend of self-service grocery stores with its first location in Memphis, which allowed customers to browse and pick their own price-marked products rather than rely on clerks to assemble them. This cost-saving strategy is now the overwhelming norm, but Piggly Wiggly still sets itself apart from competitors with high-quality meat counters, a loyalty rewards program, and locations serving small, rural locales.
SHUN FAT SUPERMARKETS
Where to Find Them: California, Texas, Las Vegas
Originating in the San Gabriel Valley, a suburban Los Angeles community with a predominantly Asian population, Shun Fat Supermarkets is a chain specializing in imported groceries from China, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, and elsewhere. Customers can find all sorts of tantalizing snacks, beverages, meats, seafoods, and condiments at Shun Fat stores, which are usually found in suburban Chinatowns or Vietnamese-American commercial districts.
Where to Find Them: California, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington
As its name suggests, Seafood City is a great place to find fresh seafood, as well as a Western shopper's gateway into the world of Filipino cuisine, with offerings like taro and Japanese daikon sharing space beside live aquarium tanks and a fried-rice-slinging food court. Like Shun Fat Supermarkets, the stores function as anchors for other Asian-American-owned businesses, from video rental stores and immigration centers to full-service restaurants.
Where to Find Them: California, Nevada
Ranking not only among the nation's best food retailers but also among its best employers, Raley's is a family-owned supermarket chain most concentrated (and most beloved) in the Sacramento metropolitan area for its wide selection of essentials and specialty products, friendly customer service, and community outreach. It has committed to providing sustainable seafood and using environmentally friendly refrigeration technology.
Where to Find Them: Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
Seabra Foods is a chain focused on Portuguese as well as Central and South American grocery items, which means you'll find rare imported cheeses, oils, snacks, and soft drinks you won't see anywhere else, along with entire departments devoted to house-made sausages and salt cod. If you don't know where to start, try some of the ready-made foods, like crispy shrimp, or look to the recipes included in the weekly flyers.
HARPS FOOD STORES
Where to Find Them: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas
Harps is an employee-owned chain with all the usual offerings, plus sporting goods sections in some of its larger stores. Arkansas' most popular grocery chain has also moved into the digital realm with aplomb, letting customers "clip" coupons, find recipes, and compose shopping lists online.
Where to Find Them: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana
Customers love Albertsons-owned Jewel-Osco, the Chicago area's largest grocery chain, for its people-oriented approach. That includes community outreach and employing registered dietitians and food experts to help customers find the best ingredients. It also has a well-functioning home delivery service and fresh seafood tanks where you can pick out your own lobster.
Where to Find Them: Louisiana, Mississippi
Louisiana's most popular supermarket chain puts an emphasis on sourcing local ingredients that reflect the area's unique Cajun and Creole culinary heritage. Popular products include hot sauces, smoked seafood, and house-made sausages. The deli counters have hot soups, fresh sandwiches, and salad bars, and customers concerned about nutrition can look for the Eat Right logo on groceries handpicked for being low in sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.
HARMONS NEIGHBORHOOD GROCER
Where to Find Them: Utah
With 18 locations in and around Salt Lake City, Harmons is Utah's source for local ingredients and much more. Stores generally include a post office, café, dietitian's office, sushi bar, tea bar, and onsite cooking school. Frequent customers can order groceries for pickup or sign up for the Foodie Club to earn points, freebies, and fuel discounts using a club card.
Where to Find Them: Wisconsin, Illinois
Founded as a produce stand in 1919, Woodman's Markets is an employee-owned, warehouse-style supermarket chain that buys in bulk direct from manufacturers and passes much of the savings on to customers, a la Costco. It also doesn't accept credit cards, to avoid processing fees.
GIANT FOOD STORES
Where to Find Them: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia
Founded as D.C.'s first true supermarket, Giant Foods is now a chain of 150 stores concentrated in the mid-Atlantic region. It's renowned for its diverse product selection (in terms of brands and international origin) and superior customer service. It's also one of several chains to give customers more insight into the healthfulness and environmental impact of the groceries they buy through the "HowGood" rating system.
Where to Find Them: Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire
Ranked the nation's second-best grocery chain in a 2017 Consumer Reports survey, Market Basket's popularity derives from its consistently low prices, which are 15 percent cheaper than competitors' on average. Customers also appreciate checkout lines that are still run by "a human being waiting on a human being," rather than self-service kiosks, and full-time employees who are well-compensated through a profit-sharing model after their first year.
Where to Find Them: Hawaii
With a presence on all five major islands, Foodland is Hawaii's largest locally owned and operated grocery chain. It offers more island-specific specialties than competitors, though not always for the cheapest prices. Still, it has a frequent shopper program and a great seafood selection featuring many Hawaiians' favorite poke.
SPROUTS FARMERS MARKET
Where to Find Them: Arizona, Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah
Sprouts is a health food store in 15 states spanning the southern part of the country. Its high-end, organic packaged foods and health products tend to be as pricey as you'd expect. Where Sprouts really shines is in its fresh produce, meat, and bulk sections, which are always offering worthwhile deals on items like local vegetables, granola, and grass-fed beef.
Where to Find Them: New York
Verified by the Smithsonian Institution as "America's First Supermarket," King Kullen operates 32 locations across Long Island. It's most often touted for its fresh seafood tanks and locally grown produce, as well as ready-made meal starters and private-label soups from the deli.
HEINEN'S FINE FOODS
Where to Find Them: Ohio, Illinois
Heinen's has 19 locations throughout Ohio and four in Illinois. But to fully appreciate it, you have to visit the two-story grocery rotunda in downtown Cleveland, opened in 2015 and ranked one of the nation's most beautiful supermarkets by the food site Delish. Heinen's has a reputation for friendly service, an impressive wine selection, navigable, well-decorated interiors, food service counters, and ready-made picnic and cheese platters.
RED APPLE MARKETS
Where to Find Them: Washington
Unlike some others on this list, Red Apple Markets is locally focused, meaning each of the 20 locations is different to suit the community it serves, whether it's within a bustling Seattle neighborhood or a rural mountain town. The prices can be a little steep, but customers rave about the premade deli items and the selection of Asian and other international specialty items.
Where to Find Them: Massachusetts
Roche Bros. runs neighborhood markets around the Boston metropolitan area. They exist somewhere between Whole Foods and Safeway in terms of selection and pricing, with emphasis on local sources, gluten-free selections, and ready-made dinners. The kitchen offers a complete menu of prepared foods including paninis, pizzas, rotisserie chicken, sushi, and rotating chef's specials.
Where to Find Them: New York, New Jersey
New Yorkers have been depending on Fairway for more than half a century and helped make it one of the nation's highest-grossing food retailers by square footage. The cramped aisles contain a bounty of useful essentials and specialty ingredients to suit the city's demographic and culinary diversity. The stores are known for community outreach like partnering with the fire department and the local food bank to host canned-food drives and other events.