By Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley
When it comes to food shopping, you probably have a favorite store you regularly visit. You are familiar with the layout, have a preferred day to shop and know the cashiers who will speed you through the line.
So when that store closes, if only temporarily, it can upset routine.
And that’s what’s happened to the customers of the Publix Super Market in Sunshine Square. Closed for renovations in October, the store in this popular strip mall is being remade into a 54,000-square-foot modern supermarket with a prescription drive-thru.
Although there is word it will reopen next summer, a company spokesperson says “we do not have an opening date set.”
So, until the work is done, the regulars will have to shop elsewhere. We explore some of your options.
The Publix website (www.publix.com) lists more than 25 markets within a 10-mile radius of Sunshine Square. So there’s no need to go to another chain if you don’t want to.
But for those who prefer to shop in the immediate neighborhood, there’s a Winn-Dixie just east of Publix’s location. There also are nine Winn-Dixie stores within a 10-mile radius listed on the company’s website (www.winndixie.com).
Costco Warehouse, 1873 W. Lantana Road, Lake Worth, 533-0958 (6.2 miles); 17800 Congress Ave., Boca Raton, 981-5004 (8.6 miles), www.costco.com.
BJ’s Wholesale Club, 1540 W. Boynton Beach Blvd., Boynton Beach, 561-369-3409, www.bjs.com (3.3 miles).
Most people are familiar with wholesale clubs that are no-frills, big-box businesses with membership fees. At Costco, membership ranges from $55 to $110; at BJ’s, $50 to $90 depending upon benefits.
The variety of goods and services — everything from food and home electronics to caskets — offered at warehouse stores make them popular with the price-conscious shopper.
Insider Tip: You can get a free one-day shopping pass to BJ’s by visiting www.bjs.com/one-day-pass.content.join_one_day_pass.A.join_consumer.
Wal-Mart’s newest super store is at 3625 S Federal Hwy., Boynton Beach, 600-3088 (1.1 miles); there’s another location at 3200 Old Boynton Road, Boynton Beach, 742-0718 (3.3 miles).
Super Target, 650 N Congress Ave., Boynton Beach, 561-396-2202, target.com (3.1 miles).
These are large low-price department stores with groceries as part of their mix. That means you not only can food shop but also pick up many other things on your shopping list in one stop.
The high ceilings of the newest 93,000-square-foot Wal-Mart may make you feel a bit dwarfed. And the place could use a few more bright lights. But if you like supercenter shopping and savings, this store like other super stores, offers deli items, frozen foods, meats and fresh produce plus wine and beer.
Insider tips: At Target, you get 5 percent off all your purchases if you use the company’s Red Card. I’ve also discovered that Target has particularly good prices on boxed cereals including national brands.
At Wal-Mart, they have introduced choice-grade meats. However, the seriously budget conscious can still purchase the lower-quality select grade.
And you may want to bring a jacket when you shop at Wal-Mart’s new supercenter. It was very chilly on the day we visited.
Bravo, 1510 SW Eighth St., Boynton Beach, 737-9916, www.bravosupermarkets.com (1.2 miles): One of only 35 Bravo stores in Florida, this market in Boynton Beach has a decidedly ethnic flavor.
Like most supermarkets, it offers a selection of packaged goods, fresh produce, frozen products, meat and prepared foods. But here you’ll also find a full line of Latin products and fresh tropical produce.
Look around and you’ll see such specialty items as Puerto Rican bread, rice and sausage in the hot prepared foods case and tripe in the meat case. The store also carries a wide range of Hispanic spices and 20-pound bags of rice.
Insider tip: People over 55 years of age receive a 5 percent discount on Mondays.
Aldi, 4801 Linton Blvd., Delray Beach, www.aldi.us.com (8.1 miles): Aldi was started by two brothers in Germany. Today it has over 8,000 stores worldwide with 1,000 of them in 31 states including Florida.
Opened at this location in August, Aldi Supermarket is not your typical food giant carrying 30,000 items. Instead, the company prides itself on stocking only about 1,400 grocery and household items, including wine and a limited selection of fresh meat and produce. The company claims this small scale lets them control quality and price.
Don’t expect to find national brands here either. Instead you will discover house brands such as Benton cookies, Savoritz crackers and Clancy’s chips.
And you’ll find other cost-saving measures employed at this store. For example, there’s a cluster of shopping carts by the door. But you need to deposit 25 cents before a cart is released from its chain. You get your money back when you return and lock the cart. This way, no one is paid to retrieve carts from the parking lot.
At the checkout, they accept cash and debit cards; no coupons, credit cards or checks. And if you want a paper bag, it costs 6 cents; plastic, 11 cents.
And you have to pack your own groceries.
As a result, the company claims its prices are up to 50 percent less than what you pay for national brands at other stores.
Insider tip: What impressed us is that people seemed to be having fun shopping here. And, we learned, one couple keeps a plastic laundry tub in the trunk of their car into which they quickly and efficiently unload their groceries directly from their cart. That makes them easy to unload at home, too.
GFS Store, 250 S. Congress Ave, Boynton Beach, opening 2012, www.gfs.com, (2.6 miles): Gordon Food Service will be opening a store in Boynton Beach this spring. Like all their stores, this one will provide both GFS and national brand products in food service-size packages that are also available by the case. Think No. 10 cans of peaches or tomatoes, oversized jars of mayonnaise and 20-pound chubs of ground beef.
There’s nothing fancy about these stores that feature meat, seafood, dairy and tabletop supplies as well as limited bakery and fresh produce.
Insider tip: Here’s your chance to discover what restaurant chefs already know: Many things on restaurant menus are bought ready-made.