Sunday, November 12, 2006

Does Anybody Like the New Harris Teeter in the Shops at Friendly?

Update: The N&R's Lorraine Ahearn went shopping too, and feels about as I do: she calls the new store the "Trump Taj Mateter."

I went to the new HT this afternoon (Sunday) at about 5, along with about 5,000 other people.

It seems clear that HT is trying to capitalize on its upscale customer base in its new incarnation. The expanded wine gallery takes up a lot of real estate in the middle of the store, the prepared foods section is greatly expanded in size and variety, and the produce area is huge, with more kinds of exotic produce than you could find in the old store.

But despite all the square footage, I felt cramped in the new store. They've hung a ton of junk from the industrial-style ceiling, such as fake pergolas in the wine section and over the check-out counters. And instead of two-dimensional signs for the aisles, they've hung large cubes decorated with heavy cornices and fluted columns, which just seemed kind of bizarre to me. (Are they flying Greek temples?) All of this makes for a lot of visual clutter that kind of presses in on you.

Maybe it's because the store was so crowded while I was there, but the aisles felt narrower than in the old store, and navigating them with a shopping cart was sometimes annoying. I stopped once to let a woman merge into cart traffic and she said, unbidden, "this store is giving me an ulcer."

I asked the checkout staff what people were saying about the store, and they said the most common word they heard was "overwhelming."

The overall quality of food and service still seem to be excellent, however, which is why most people shop there.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was there at same time tonight. It was pure insanity. I can't imagine what it will be like on the day before Thanksgiving.

Cara Michele said...

My youngest called it "the mall." ;)

And yes, "overwhelming" would be the word I'd choose, too.

Anonymous said...

But David! You MUST like it. You spend so much time there.

David Wharton said...

I like the people I meet there more than the store.

Kim said...

I hadn't realized it had opened already. I'll have to check it out. I like Harris Teeter, but I don't know if I like this extra large idea. I prefer shopping at places like The Fresh Market because they seem so calm, but I almost never shop there because it's so expensive.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I checked it out and...I liked it! It is huge, I'll give you that, but it seemed cozier to me. There is a small Food Lion near my house that I cannot stand...it feels so stark and impersonal, but this new Harris Teeter seemed cozy. And the deli/food area was impressive. I did get a chuckle when I heard an older lady ask an employee where the front of the store was, though. Poor lady! The wine section was impressive for a grocery store, and the employees seemed more than willing to help. I think I'll shop there.

Joe Killian said...

I don't want to sound like a rube but...it's a little intimidating, isn't it?

That whole shopping center now makes me feel as though I don't really make enough money even to drive past...

Anonymous said...

Eh....shouldn't let anything make you feel like that! I grew up in a family have that didn't have a whole lot, moneywise. We had very little food, my clothes were second hand (or 3rd or 4th)we had no car, local churches tended to, without our requesting it, drop food off at our house during the holidays, I went to summer camp via the efforts of a local charity...you get the picture. ANYWAY...that never stopped me from going into places that looked like I didn't have enough money to go in to. I wouldn't buy anything, but I'd go in just because nobody could stop me and I wanted to! Actually, I had some friends when I was growing up who had families that I thought were rich. Looking back on it, they weren't...they were probably just lower middle to middle class, but I thought they were rich. I always loved it when they brought me along on family outings to places I normally could not have gone. It was so cool.

Kim said...

Whooops...the above post was from me...Kim! Forgot to sign in.

Kim said...

Geeez, actually, the last 2 anonymous posts were mine. How'd I not sign in twice? Oh well.

Anonymous said...

I usually shop at EarthFare, and Harris Teeter.
Our family try to eat healthy and save money where we can. With the Harris Teeter move I thought the organic items would be expanded. So I would not have to make the long haul across town. I could only find a few things. It would be nice to have a few more items.

cantnot said...

I was hoping that the new Harris Teeter at Friendly Center would be more like the one in Charlotte's Morocroft Village (which was the largest store before this one opened), because that store is big but it doesn't feel overwhelming ever. No doubt though that the HTization of upscale Greensboro will continue.

Anonymous said...

i would just like to say that i am a manager at the new HT at friendly shopping center and of course the first week is going to be crazy you must keep in mind that everyone in greensboro went to the store to "check it out" about 40% of the people in there the first week did not spend anymoney they just walked around and looked at things give it about a month for all the hipe to die down and it will go back to normal like it was at the last store

Tbillingsoctober said...

The new Harris Teeter is definitely huge, but when I shop for groceries, I really want a store that's easier to get in and out of -- I'm very disappointed in their natural and organic meats - just a small section of Smart Chicken and HT Naturals and that's it. They brought in all this organic produce, but don't walk the walk when it comes to all natural and humanely raised meats. Earth Fare still has the best all natural meat counter in town and organic dairy section. I think when you compare organic to organic, Earth Fare's prices are better, too.

Will said...

I too, work at the new HT at the Shops at Friendly Center. I'll admit, I was pretty overwhelmed when I first came in to apply for the job, but after being there about 2 months, i think i've pretty much gotten use to it. Im a cashier there. When customers come up to the register to check out, i always greet em with a smile and say, "How was the HT adventure today?"

I think all it takes is some getting used to really. Like the manager above said, just wait a little while for all the hype to go down and then it will all be normal again.

Veronica said...

Although it has a good wine selection, Harris Teeter is a very bad grocery store. Its vegetables and fruits are not fresh. There is not much organic. The prices are very high. It is PRETENTIOUS with bad taste in design and unfriendly marketing strategies (changing items constantly of place). It has become the monopoly grocery store of GSO, to the point that Whole Foods, a much better store, does not dare to come to town. I strongly dislike it and am suprised some people do not see how bad it is.