Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Store Review: Winco, South Tacoma

I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a Winco in Tacoma.  Years ago, when I lived in Fresno, CA, Winco was my shopping store of choice.  I loved the bulk foods, the large selection and the low prices.  Even when I wasn't able to plan my shopping trip I always seemed to save at Winco. I wondered if this new store would be as good as what I remembered in Fresno.  It was.

The traffic getting into the Winco parking lot was horrendous but that really that had nothing to do with Winco.  The store is located on Hosmer and 74th, one of the craziest intersections in all of Tacoma.  Once I got into the parking lot things settled down but it wasn't because there were fewer cars--there weren't--it was because Winco had hired parking lot attendants to direct traffic and parking.  What foresight! I was impressed already. Within minutes I was parked, without fighting for a spot, without a big hassle, and was on my way into the store.

As I walked into the store I was again directed, by an attendant with a big security badge, to get in line for a shopping cart.  Yes, there were so many people there that they were out of shopping carts! I walked to the back of the 4 person line and waited while more lot attendants buzzed around the parking lot collecting carts for us.  By the time he got back, 3 minutes, there were 15 people in line but he had enough to satisfy all our wants. With cart supplies being low I walked in expecting enormous crowds.

There were crowds but inside.  Lots and lots of people but there weren't lines and there wasn't much difficulty at all in navigating.  I think this was mostly because of the excellent lay out: the aisles were wide and the displays were large.  I also appreciated the bright lighting which always makes everything feel bigger.

Not only were there a lot of people but there were a lot of employees too.  They were everywhere.  Like Flies! They were restocking and answering questions and giving directions.  They were friendly and helpful.  They looked happy to be there. Everyone looked happy to be there.

I wandered through the store observing, taking note of prices and loading my cart full of advertised specials.  I was also suckered into a few unadvertised specials like Strawberries for 98 cents per pound and Smoked Turkey from the deli for $1.49 per pound.  YES, really! I am not exaggerating.

My favorite part of the store was the bulk section.  I only got almonds this time--$1.98 per pound--but I was taking note of the prices and variety for future reference.  Their cereals were under 10 cents per ounce, they had chocolate covered raisins, they had bulk spices, candy, baking products, nuts, cereals, grains and more.  It was awesome! They even had fresh pressed peanut butter and by fresh pressed I mean you pour the nuts into the machine and hold a bowl or bucket beneath and catch your peanut butter! That alone is worth a field trip with the kids.

Though most of the prices were good I unfortunately cannot say that they were all fantastic.  Milk was $2.69/ gallon, jam was $3 per jar and tomatoes were $2.25 per pound.  Not terrible prices but I could probably spend the same at any grocery store this week.

After a lap or two around the store I finally found my way to the long row of check out stands.  Every stand was open and every line was long.  I suddenly felt like I was at Costco and like I'd never get out but I stood back for a minute and watched the cashiers.  Most of them were training so there were two people working every stand.  I looked at each cashier and how long they took to handle the goods and how fast their line was going and narrowed it down to an aisle with two women cashiering. One of them I recognized as a former Albertsons cashier. They were indeed very fast and before I knew it I was at the head of the line chatting with her. She was so happy to be working at Winco.

I was happy too as I walked out of the store with the following items:
MD toilet tissue, 12 double rolls  $2.98
12 pack Mug rootbeer  $3.98
2 bags of Wavy lays .98 cents each
10# bag of baking potatoes .68 (for the whole bag!)
2 Kool Aid Jammers drinks, 10 pack .98 cents each
Peanut butter, 32 oz $2.92
Red Raspberry jam, 32 oz $3.48
5# bananas $1.92
9# oranges $1.68
.68 # Almonds $1.35
1 bunch Cilantro .38
4# Strawberries $3.92
3# Smoked Turkey, wrapped individually at $1.83, $1.71, $1.75
1+# deli Roast Beef $3.16
2 Prego Spaghetti Sauce .98 cents each
2# shrimp $6.76
2 14 oz boxes Cheeries .98 cents each

Grand Total with tax $47.09

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