Grocery Shopping Humboldt–Choose Carefully–The Dynamics have Changed Since Last Year

Last year, I priced groceries at the SoHum, Fortuna, and Eureka Safeway and Ray’s stores. And found little difference between the prices within each chain and only minimal differences between the Safeway and the Ray’s stores.  Then, I went to Winco and took the exact same list of groceries (right down to 8.9 oz box of Cheerios) and priced the list there.   Whew!  Now that was some savings.  There was nearly a 25% savings from its nearest competitor.

I decided to repeat the process this year.  (I skimped a bit and didn’t price the Ray’s Eureka and the Safeway Eureka just to save time but you can always take the same list and price the items.)

I found something Odd!

Good News: The prices at both the Ray’s stores and the Safeway store dropped an average of about $6 for the same groceries as last year but

Bad News: the prices at Winco rose a little over $2 from last year.  Still the Winco prices were $6.72 cheaper than the same items at its nearest competitor, the Fortuna Safeway. And $13.13 cheaper than the Garberville Ray’s .

Applying the same methodology as last year, that still makes it worthwhile to drive to Eureka to shop at Winco from Southern Humboldt.  (Gas prices are at $3.25 /gal.  It’s 60 miles. At 20 miles per gal. for the ave. car, that is  $19.50 in gas round trip.) The Average American family spends about $165 /week on groceries. How much would you save if you shopped at Winco rather than the SoHum Ray’s stores?

A recent letter to the Redwood Times notes the discrepancies in price  between Winco and Ray’s  on another list of items (including the definitive Turkey Oven Bags which supposedly are sold more at the Garberville Ray’s than in any other store in the nation which should result in  lowering of prices because of bulk sales. There is a savings of $1.41 per box.)  *

Concerns:

Although Ray’s is a chain and not based in Southern Humboldt, the employees are. I need to emphasize how incredibly friendly and helpful all Ray’s employees were and are. In fact, Ray’s is very welcoming to the local non-profit community. I have frequently stood out front of both the Garberville and Redway stores selling raffle tickets for our schools and our local martial arts group. The managers, clerks and stock people not only are cheerful and helpful but frequently buy tickets and some have lent a quick hand setting up.

Out-of-Towners find the stores charming.  One Washington woman took the time to write a delighted review of the Redway store here.

Pricing: Sadly, I’m limited on how to put in charts but the items are below with the corresponding prices below.

Milk Humboldt!/2 gal. Whole

Bread Brio Rustic Ital

Cheerios 8.9 oz

Eggs Ray’s org Val 12 brn Omega

1/2 Trop. pulp free

Hamburger lean grd not over 19% fat

iceberg lettuce

vine tomatoes

gala apples

Dreyers Tangerine Fruit bar popsicles

Foster Farms Fryer

Palmolive Original dish soap

tp  Quilted Northern 12 double rolls

Bien padre Tortillas 12 pk

Newman’s own Balsamic Vin. salad Dressing 16 oz

Signature coffee organic dark fr. 12 oz

Oro Wheat Double fiber Muffins



GARR REDR FORR SAFEF Winco
$    2.79 2.79 2.79 2.79 2.48
$    4.79 4.79 4.79 4.79 4.79
$    3.59 3.39 3.39 1.99 3.06
$    4.89 4.69 4.39 4.66 4.66
$    5.29 5.09 4.79 3.99 2.85
$    4.10 3.38 3.49 2.49 2.79
$    0.99 1.29 1.99 1.99 0.78
$    1.79 2.98 2.99 3.99 1.98
$    1.99 1.98 1.99 1.99 1.28
$    4.79 4.59 4.59 3 3.28
$    0.79 0.79 0.79 1.29 1.18
$    4.69 4.49 4.49 3.99 2.38
$    6.98 6.98 6.98 6.98 6.48
$    2.19 2.19 2.19 1.99 1.38
$    4.69 4.49 4.49 3.98 2.78
$   11.29 10.89 10.89 11.02 11.02
$    3.89 1.79 1.79 3.19 3.23
$   69.53 $   66.59 $   66.82 $   64.12 56.40

* The online version doesn’t list the items and prices but it can be found in the Tues. March 16th issue hardcopy.

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19 comments

  • Yep, WinCo makes good sense for our family. We’ve been making the WinCo journey since college, albeit not at midnight anymore. I’ve noticed the price creep on a few items purchased weekly, but they’re all still less expensive than at any other grocery store.

    Ray’s rocks over Safeway because Ray’s is diligent about opening up new cash registers when there’s three people in line while Safeway acts like it could care less. I can’t speak to the company’s approach to employee health insurance though when a valued employee’s family has to put on fundraisers in the store to help pay for his medical treatment (a NorHum thing).

    Murphy’s scores points for being perhaps the only place in Humboldt County where you can score some Jelly Babies (a British treat known to some scifi fans).

  • Y’all need a Sunflower Market….its like Whole Foods without the frills, you can get all the “natural” products at prices that rival Albertsons and Safeway…….Food prices are generall higher here in LV because of the cost of bringing it into the desert but still less than what you are paying!

    (Fiance)

    • recent transplant to humboldt from LV… more expensive up here, but welcome to california. consider it a quality of life tax. don’t blame me if that makes it into legislation.

  • Y’all need a Sunflower Market….its like Whole Foods without the frills, you can get all the “natural” products at prices that rival Albertsons and Safeway…….Food prices are generall higher here in LV because of the cost of bringing it into the desert but still less than what you are paying!

    (Fiance)

    • recent transplant to humboldt from LV… more expensive up here, but welcome to california. consider it a quality of life tax. don’t blame me if that makes it into legislation.

  • Our local options are fairly limited grocery store wise, but I’m happy to pay the bit more we do at our Kroger store than save some bucks at my Wal-Mart super store (the only other viable option).

    It’s a social-consciousness decision. That and the fact we use a special gift card that donates 4% of our total purchase to a local pet adoption agency.

  • Our local options are fairly limited grocery store wise, but I’m happy to pay the bit more we do at our Kroger store than save some bucks at my Wal-Mart super store (the only other viable option).

    It’s a social-consciousness decision. That and the fact we use a special gift card that donates 4% of our total purchase to a local pet adoption agency.

  • Kym, when you were a kid, did your family make the trek into Eureka to shop at Bazaar? With four boys, we went about every six weeks in from Willow Creek. I remember distinctly my mother getting two giant baskets filled to the brim and the price came to $98. And that included maple bars from the bakery! I’ve heard Richard at Samoa Softball probably loaded our car from the conveyor belt and gray tub.

    I shop at Winco for the price, but I prefer to get the best (conventional) items from the top shelf at Safeway. Next time you shop at Safeway, go into the spaghetti sauce aisle and look up. Jars of specialty sauce for $9.95! The reason I like Ray’s is because of the cleanliness. Honestly. And, I like to think Ray’s is more local than the others. C’mon….Southern Oregon is local, isn’t it? It’s less than 100 miles away from me. Trader Joes……ewwwwww….don’t get me started. My take….Safeway (yuppies) Winco (blue collar) Ray’s (blue collar yuppies) But you know what, when I go down to Redway, I still like the Ray’s Shop Smart. Nice combination with the convenience meat cooker out front and the fair amount of organic foods. When I go there, I pick up the Independent, get a slab of meat and a Dr. Pepper and enjoy it in the parking lot while watching the SoHum world go by. Did I mention I like convenience meat?

  • Kym, when you were a kid, did your family make the trek into Eureka to shop at Bazaar? With four boys, we went about every six weeks in from Willow Creek. I remember distinctly my mother getting two giant baskets filled to the brim and the price came to $98. And that included maple bars from the bakery! I’ve heard Richard at Samoa Softball probably loaded our car from the conveyor belt and gray tub.

    I shop at Winco for the price, but I prefer to get the best (conventional) items from the top shelf at Safeway. Next time you shop at Safeway, go into the spaghetti sauce aisle and look up. Jars of specialty sauce for $9.95! The reason I like Ray’s is because of the cleanliness. Honestly. And, I like to think Ray’s is more local than the others. C’mon….Southern Oregon is local, isn’t it? It’s less than 100 miles away from me. Trader Joes……ewwwwww….don’t get me started. My take….Safeway (yuppies) Winco (blue collar) Ray’s (blue collar yuppies) But you know what, when I go down to Redway, I still like the Ray’s Shop Smart. Nice combination with the convenience meat cooker out front and the fair amount of organic foods. When I go there, I pick up the Independent, get a slab of meat and a Dr. Pepper and enjoy it in the parking lot while watching the SoHum world go by. Did I mention I like convenience meat?

  • Ekovax – Kym may not remember but, yes, she did make many trips to Bazaar in Eureka for bi-weekly grocery shopping. There were 3 women, several children (in the days before seat belts you could squeeze at least two kids to a seat, all in one family station wagon. We would each purchase enough groceries to last until the next payday. We still laugh at how many bags of groceries we were able to pack in that station wagon. I remember very distinctly the day my order came to $75, which included a recent markup in Quaker Oats – from 59 cents a box to 70 cents. I was quite traumatized. Today, I spent $78 at Shop Smart in Redway and only purchased enough groceries to feed 4 adults for 3 days.

  • Ekovax – Kym may not remember but, yes, she did make many trips to Bazaar in Eureka for bi-weekly grocery shopping. There were 3 women, several children (in the days before seat belts you could squeeze at least two kids to a seat, all in one family station wagon. We would each purchase enough groceries to last until the next payday. We still laugh at how many bags of groceries we were able to pack in that station wagon. I remember very distinctly the day my order came to $75, which included a recent markup in Quaker Oats – from 59 cents a box to 70 cents. I was quite traumatized. Today, I spent $78 at Shop Smart in Redway and only purchased enough groceries to feed 4 adults for 3 days.

  • Good post, Kym !! Here are a few observations …

    1. You didn’t add the Co-op, Wildberries or Eureka Natural Foods to the comparison list. If you did, the cost differential would be staggering.

    2. You missed out on snagging a few snapshots of crappy food products at Winco … we all miss the Carson Park Ranger’s pithy commentaries about pre-cooked-and-frozen hot dogs, plastic wrapped lunch choices for kids, pizza slices on a stick, etc.

    3. Ekovox … there are no YUPpies, in Humboldt County, only ARPies … Aging Rural Professionals.

  • Good post, Kym !! Here are a few observations …

    1. You didn’t add the Co-op, Wildberries or Eureka Natural Foods to the comparison list. If you did, the cost differential would be staggering.

    2. You missed out on snagging a few snapshots of crappy food products at Winco … we all miss the Carson Park Ranger’s pithy commentaries about pre-cooked-and-frozen hot dogs, plastic wrapped lunch choices for kids, pizza slices on a stick, etc.

    3. Ekovox … there are no YUPpies, in Humboldt County, only ARPies … Aging Rural Professionals.

  • Chris,

    You’re right about the natural food store places which I love because I feel healthier just walking into them. Plus some of their produce actually tastes garden grown (mmm, for local and heirloom tomatoes!) But the prices are much higher and comparing like brands is very difficult because they don’t tend to carry items like Cheerios etc.

    If I had CPR’s witty repartee I’d take photos at Winco (though I might focus on the faces of the people there)

  • Chris,

    You’re right about the natural food store places which I love because I feel healthier just walking into them. Plus some of their produce actually tastes garden grown (mmm, for local and heirloom tomatoes!) But the prices are much higher and comparing like brands is very difficult because they don’t tend to carry items like Cheerios etc.

    If I had CPR’s witty repartee I’d take photos at Winco (though I might focus on the faces of the people there)

  • Interest study again, Kym. I know Winco is definitely the best deal around this area. I also know that I started saving money when I stopped shopping at Costco and started shopping at Winco. Excellent work!

  • Interest study again, Kym. I know Winco is definitely the best deal around this area. I also know that I started saving money when I stopped shopping at Costco and started shopping at Winco. Excellent work!

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