Thursday, January 31, 2013


Now that Shur Sav is gone, Loopie's and those that live on the Northeast part of University City have all migrated to Schnucks.

The entire Shur Sav building and parking lot were rumoured to have been purchased by Washington University. Lupe has not been able to track down all the details.

It appears that the Wash. U. sponsored or owned grocery that was proposed for the property at Delmar and Eastgate (actually located in Saint Louis city) has been moved over to the old  Shur Sav location.  But that is entirely unsubstantiated (but well-repeated) rumour.  It is further rumoured that it will be mostly high end, boutique and will not sell package liquor.

So far, no facts, however.

(EDIT: 2 Feb 2013:  Washington University's 80 million dollar project to put a grocery store and housing for 600 students at the property at Eastgate and Delmar, has begun.  Lupe will be interested to see who is going to get benefit from this, Saint Louis city or University City, as the development falls right across the city limit boundary.  

(As far as the grocery, Lupe is hoping for a Trader Joe's or Culinaria.  Or perhaps a true neighbourhood co-op. No word yet on if the store will  be allowed to sell liquor, but it seems that the restaurants will fight that, even the ones that are rumored to now accept Wash. U's student meal plan "Bear Cards".  Either way, a new grocery will probably take most of the student business away from Olive Schnucks.  However, as the rest of this review demonstrates, Schnucks has done a great job of meeting the challenge of serving such a diverse clientele.)

Either way, the Schnucks on Olive (often unfairly called ghetto Schnucks by both black and white, because the other two closest Schnucks are cosmopolitan Clayton and snooty Ladue) is stepping up it's game.

First of all, they have stopped playing the steady stream of 1970's AOR radio (Boston, Journey) that still dominates much of St. Louis.  They have started to play more classic R&B, Gap Band, Spinners, and some old Motown and 1960's Soul.

Second, they have a branch of Fifth/Third bank in there now, and that is good.  The big banks, and even local Commerce, really don't seem to want people that can't carry a balance anymore.  If you live paycheck to paycheck, you have to pay the fees.  But banks don't want your tiny monthly fee, they want your big bucks so that they can go out and loan it to big companies and governments.  That is really how banks make their money.

So to have a bank that actively reaches out to the community, especially the lower income community, that is wonderful.  Thank you Schnucks for providing that space.

Third, Schnucks on Olive also now has coffee and hot chocolate at the front.  Lupe did not fully appreciate this until the other day when she walked in there, half frozen.  That is a nice thing to do for the customers!

Okay, there are a whole bunch more things, so Lupe is going to stop numbering them now:

In an attempt to accommodate the fluctuations and vast differences in their three main types of clientele**, they have re-organized the store.

**Three main types in Lupe's opinion: students that come into to buy alcohol and snacks, but often end up shopping there as well; middle class people, black and white from the neighbourhood that use it for convenience and necessity but actually do most of their shopping at one or the other Schnucks, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and international specialty markets, or a mix of those listed.

The final category is the working-class or poor folks, mostly African-American, that were most impacted by the closing of Pete's Shur Sav on Vernon. The service counter is most heavily used by the latter, often for things like Western Union, and the transactions sometimes take longer than you would wait at the Ladue or Clayton stores, so please be patient.  Lupe is always impressed at how well this store handles all the different strata of clientele and different needs.

The loss of Pete's Shur Sav brought more food stamp and WIC customers into Schnucks.  Food stamps come out to about $5 a day per person.  That does not allow a lot of room for high-end organic meats and produce, or even fresh produce at all, sadly! One apple is almost a dollar.  An orange, $1.25.  (Yay for bananas at about thirty cents each!)

Schnucks has big bins of dollar and low cost items all over the store, and more bulk and store and plain label foods in all the departments.  Also, more "about to expire" bargains, something the Riverfront Times noted they have a reputation for among their own chain.  (Although Aldi's actually advertises and capitilizes on this.  Lupe likes Aldi's, too, for different reasons.  More on that in another post.)

However, they have also greatly expanded and re-arranged the produce area to be more like a farmer's market, and have also worked to bring in more local and organic produce.  Lupe likes lots of fresh fruit, and the Loop Farmer's Market is only open three days a week, and not at night.  So Lupe is very glad for this expansion and improvements.

You can find a lot of German/Polish foods (for both Gentile and Jew) and some other international foods and brands, often very selectively, which Lupe believes must come from repeated customer requests.

(There are a great number of  different international grocery stores further west on Olive, as well Aldi's, and another Pete's across from Walgreens at Hanley.  And then Trader Joes' too, a bit further down. So that perhaps plays a part.  There is only so much room on the shelves. But always ask, because Lupe is frequently surprised.)

The deli and fresh sandwiches and also the salad bar have also improved in selection, and the meat and seafood departments have rearranged and also become more accommodating about special and customer requests.

And they have greatly expanded the party platters of fruit, meats, veggies, and also fresh olives, over between the meat and seafood.  They keep a great stock of vegetarian meat options, both in the frozen and fresh (by the juices in produce).  Sometimes certain items do run out though.**

The store is generally well-stocked, however, and always neat and clean.  And the staff is always happy to help you find something, usually walking the customer to the aisle.  Which is very considerate, especially for the mom's that have children in tow, or elderly people.

All of the staff at the service counter and pharmacy and other departments are very nice.  Everything is always nice and clean.

The floral department is limited but well-kept, and fresh flowers come in on Mondays and Thursday.

There is fresh bread at the bakery, including daily deliveries of La Brea baguettes and loaves, and decent selection.  Also the store will slice it for you.

They have a Friday fish fry year round that is very popular, not just for Lent, but if you miss your Parish or don't make it to your local or one of the famous ones (Saint Cecilia's, for instance), Schnucks Olive has got your Lenten Back!

All of the people that work there, including the security guards, are friendly and attentive.  The customers are all nice too!

You will see every strata of University City: college students from all around the world, Loopies, black and white, young and old, of all economic backgrounds.

It's a true neighborhood market place, attempting so serve as many as possible, in a neighborhood diverse in age, economic class, and culture.   A solid reflection of the community it serves.

Address:6920 Olive Blvd
St. Louis MO 63130
Main Phone:314-726-2373

**The only complaint that Lupe has is that certain items don't get stocked properly, which actually isn't entirely a grocery stores' fault.  Lupe does not know exactly how Schnucks operates, but most grocery stores rent the space on their shelves to distributors and the distributor brings in what is needed.

So when a store runs out of, say Morningstar Farms Buffalo Wings, or Dreyers single serving caramel, after the first three days, and then is out for weeks afterward, that is usually the distributor, not the store.  The distributor is not tracking the sales accurately and just re-stocking the same order. And it is better to send the store an email than to mention at the service desk.  Any grocery store. That is Lupe's experience with many other grocery stores.  It is the small boutique items.

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