A Colby Community Website for ST297, Fall 2018

Grocery Stores Across the United States

As humans we need to eat, and to eat we need food, and to make food we need to either purchase it or grow it ourselves. In today’s society there is an extremely small number of people in the United States that grow all of their own food. As a result practically everyone has to purchase food in some capacity, whether it be at restaurants or fast food chains, farmer’s markets, or the most popular place to buy food, the grocery store. Almost everywhere one goes there is typically a grocery store of some capacity.

There are over 60,000 grocery stores in the United States that come in all different varieties. There are the traditional supermarkets that provide every type of grocery product ranging from fresh vegetables to meats. Another type is the limited grocery store that offers an extremely limited number of brands but still a wide variety of grocery items, with an example being Save-A-Lot. The next common type of store is categorized as supercenters and include stores like Target, that contain a decent number of grocery items, yet are bigger in selling non-food products. The final large portion of grocery stores are categorized as warehouse grocery stores. These stores offer discounted items that are purchased in bulk and can sometimes require a membership, an example being Costco (FoodIndustry). As one can see, the buying and selling of food products to the common man is a huge industry that has elicited the creation of many varieties of stores that each has its own perks.


For my final project I am comparing overall food cultures in Maine and California. One of the aspects that I am comparing is the differences in grocery stores between the two states. I am anticipating that there will be a significant difference in the number and brand of stores. I am also predicting that the food prices of certain goods, such as the most common exports from each state, will be drastically different.

California has over 1,300 grocery stores (California Supermarkets). In California the most popular grocery store is Trader Joe’s (Hanbury).  There are 134 Trader Joe’s locations in California, while there is only 1 in the entire state of Maine (Trader Joe’s). While there are certainly brands with more than 134 stores in California, Trader Joe’s remains as the most popular because it sells the most products, which implies that more people shop there.

Image result for trader joe'sIn Maine there are 533 total grocery stores (Maine Grocery Stores). The most popular grocery store in Maine is Shaw’s (Hanbury). In Maine there are 21 Shaw’s locations and only 133 in the entire United States (Shaw’s). The total number of Shaw’s is smaller than the number of Trader Joe’s in California alone! While the number of Shaw’s in Maine does not seem large at all it is the most popular as it is one of the few name brand grocery stores in the state. A majority of towns in Maine only have one small, locally owned grocery store, as the towns are significantly more spread out than the cities in California that tend to have five to ten grocery stores.Image result for shaw's

In Maine seafood is a big export and for my first comparison I compared the price of scallops from Shaw’s and Trader Joe’s. I originally wanted to compare a more known seafood like lobster however, it was not present in Trader Joe’s grocery stores. The price of 16oz. of scallops from Shaw’s is $13.99 whereas at Trader Joe’s the price of an equivalent bag of scallops is $16.50.  While this difference is not extremely large, it is still important to note that the two dollar and fifty cent difference is still present and is logical as scallops are typically caught in the Atlantic Ocean.

In California one of its many major food exports is almonds. Similar to how I compared the price of scallops I compared the price of almonds. At Shaw’s a pound of almonds costs $8.75 while at Trader Joe’s a pound costs only $4.99. This is almost a four dollar difference in price. The difference in price is extremely large for this product and is shocking as California is basically the sole provider of almonds for the entire United States.

In conclusion it is apparent that there are more grocery stores in California. However, this fact is not too surprising as there are significantly more people that live in California than in Maine. The most surprising thing that I discovered was the price discrepancy between food products in the different locations. For my final project I want to further explore these discrepancies with more food items and attempt to figure out why the prices differ so greatly for certain items but not others.


“California Supermarkets.” The Supermarket Page, supermarketpage.com/state/CA/.

Hanbury, Mary. “The Most Popular Grocery Store in Every State.” Business Insider, 7 Dec. 2017, www.businessinsider.com/most-popular-grocery-store-in-each-state-2017-2#arkansas-harps-food-stores-4.

“How Many Grocery Stores Are There in the United States?” FoodIndustry, 9 Nov. 2018, www.foodindustry.com/articles/how-many-grocery-stores-are-there-in-the-united-states/.

“Maine Grocery Stores.” DowntownME.com, Maine Business, www.downtownme.com/maine_grocery_stores_46.htm.

“Shaw’s.” Shaws, www.shaws.com/#1.

“Trader Joe’s.” Timeline | Trader Joe’s, www.traderjoes.com/.


1 Comment

  1. Ben Steib

    I thought you did a really great job on your post! I really enjoyed hearing about the differences in supermarkets in California vs here in Maine. The food and grocery market is very different in the two states even though they are in the same country. I found that really interesting as it’s something that I haven’t really thought about before. Usually we think that large chain supermarkets are the same from coast to coast, but in reality that is far from the case. Really great job and hope your head feels better!

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