Here in Sioux Falls, there are probably less grocery stores in town than there were 20 years ago. Let's see around 1988, give or take a few years, there used to be Hy Vee, Albertson's (or maybe it was Randall's then), Sunshine, Prairie Market, some of the neighborhood grocers like Andy's and the Franklin Food Market, and probably a few other places I cannot remember.
Back then, grocery stores were pretty ubiquitous. They all carried the same things, more or less. As far as ethnic foods, you might find a can of Chung King chop suey and some soy sauce in the "Chinese" aisle and maybe some Old El Paso refried beans or Pace salsa in the"Mexican" area.
Now, the Sioux Falls grocery scene is pretty much dominated by Hy Vee and Sunshine. Oddly, there was a time when the Hy Vee store on 33rd and Minnesota was one of, if not the, largest grocery store in the state. That has changed pretty fast in the last two or three years.
Twenty years ago, it was tough to swing a dead cat and miss one of those little Sunshine stores 8th and Spring, 10th and Cleveland, and my personal favorite 33rd and Minnesota where, circa 1988 icy cold six packs of Miller Genuine Draft in bottles always rang up at $1.89 regardless of what the price on the shelf said.
Now we have grocery palaces here in Sioux Falls- especially the new Hy Vee stores. Sunshine has built a new store at 57th and Cliff that has to be as nice a venue as Sunshine has ever occupied. With the new stores has come services and products unlike any we have seen in Sioux Falls. We have full service meat counters, fresh seafood selections, bakeries, full selections or organic and natural foods, deli service, full wine, beer and liquor selections, and wide choices of all sorts of other products. Oh yeah, even Wal-Mart sells groceries and has some nice selections. (Note: The Fork hates Wal-Mart for a number of reasons. So, rather than devote time to saying nasty things about Wal-Mart and how it has done more to ruin the U.S. than help it, we'll just ignore Wal-Mart.)
We also have new specialty markets in Sioux Falls like Look's and Cleaver's. Even World Market offers interesting specialty foods.
Altogether, we have it pretty good, but we still have things to talk about, and will in the coming days and weeks. For instance:
- Is the one-stop-get-your-groceries-and-booze-here arrangements good? Sure, it's handy to roll into a store where you can get a bottle of cheap Sauvignon Blanc to use in your shrimp scampi recipe, but will the inevitable loss of small, local liquor retailers a good thing?
- Bread. We have a lot to discuss here. How can Hy Vee offer varieties of soy ice cream, but can't offer a decent loaf of made-in-the-store French bread? For that matter, why can't Sunshine offer decent French Bread?
- Meat. Pricing, quality, service, and selection. Lots to complain about here.
- Produce. Who's got the good stuff and who doesn't?
- Deli. We have nice delis in almost every store in Sioux Falls. Can we increase the quality to match the quantity?
Gotta watch Top Chef now. Have fun, eat well, live well, and stay tuned.