Out-of-Towners Go Grocery Shopping
At least according to an article in USA Today, a growing minority of frequent travelers are plotting trips based on how close their hotel is to their favorite grocer.
In many cases, people are seeking out a Whole Foods or at least a local organic or green grocer to meet their more stringent dietary desires. A few have food allergies or dietary restrictions or travel with someone who does. Others seem to be just trying to find healthier options to avoid fast-food and hotel-menu options. They’re seeking takeout options from supermarkets or ingredients for those staying at hotels with in-room kitchens.
Mary Pat Baldauf told USA Today that she regularly checks nearby Whole Foods locations before booking hotels. She stated, "I’m a real geek when it comes to my travel food. I’ve lost nearly 100 lbs. eating clean, and I refuse to go back!"
The article also cited Olympic bobsledder Elena Meyers’ challenges finding healthy eating options on the road. Jay Furr, a vegetarian, said he stays near a Whole Foods for not only dietary reasons, but to stay within his company’s required budget and to avoid a eating alone in restaurants. Said Mr. Furr, "As a business traveler, I really hate eating at restaurants by myself when everyone around me is with friends or family or, at least, fellow co-workers."
At the same time, Trader Joe’s as well as its sibling Aldi are also said to have fans willing to drive fairly long distances to visit them. New York City’s famed grocers, such as Dean & Deluca, Fairway, Citarella and Zabar’s, attract a crowd of international and out-of-NYC shoppers, as well as local popular food marts in other cities. In the northeast, Wegmans and Stew Leonard’s find fans traveling long distances to experience their stores.
While not suggested in many travel guides, at least a few foreign tourists can be found visiting supermarkets for an off-the-beaten path view of the local culture.
Miko Amaranthine wrote in the Yahoo Voices! Lifestyle section, "It is not until you experience everyday lives of natives that a tourist really gets the real feeling of what it is like to be one. Travel hot-spots are interesting, but there is nothing like feeling as a native while shopping the aisles of foreign foods and gifts."
- When picking hotels, some ask: Where’s the Whole Foods? – USA Today
- Destination Supermarkets – The Wall Street Journal
- Top 10 Supermarkets in NYC for Tourists and New Yorkers – HubPages
- Dining Out at Ethnic Supermarkets in Los Angeles – Frugal Traveler
- Off the Beaten Path: Are Supermarkets a Tourist Attraction? – Yahoo Voices!
Discussion Questions: Do you see an opportunity for supermarkets to market themselves as travel destinations? What can merchants do to attract more out-of-towners to their stores?