CHICAGO -- What does a full-service store need to succeed in a competitive market? According to an SN consumer straw poll, it must be all-inclusive enough to please the heavy shopper with one-stop convenience.
But it must also be accessible to the convenience shopper who lacks the time to crisscross a 70,000-square-foot maze.
And, as SN learned, it must also be competitive on price in order to draw the customer who insists on that requirement.
Can a large, modern store with multiple service departments do all this? SN found some generally positive consumer responses from consumers here outside a recently remodeled Dominick's Fresh Store.
Socorro Martin had all the "right" answers for shopping at the store.
"I buy all my groceries, my cleaning supplies, my liquor, my medicine," she said. "I do my banking and I can have dinner here or take it home."
Though she may have sounded like an industry insider, the shopper was for real. As a gourmet food enthusiast, Martin said she appreciated how Dominick's "kept up with the trends" in health food, exotic produce and dry goods from around the world. "I like how they have things you don't ordinarily find. I go to Jewel and they don't know what it is," Martin said.
But SN found that for every shopper like Martin -- knowledgeable and eager to take advantage of all the store had to offer -- just as many seemed to come for simpler reasons like price and location.
"We go to get the values," said George Washington. "The deli? The bakery? They don't interest me."
"Wherever they have the bargains, that's where I go," said Adam Gonzales, who shops once or twice a month at supermarkets. "I try to save some money. I read the ads in the stores."
"This is the closest store, and the produce is nice," said Nora DeFrancisco, who was shopping two supermarkets on the same day. "I buy what's on sale at Dominick's and I buy what's on sale at Jewel."
While most shoppers noted the convenience of the 74,000-square-foot store, at least one found its size a problem.
"You don't save time here because it takes forever to get from one end to the other," said George Gibbs. "It's like walking through two stores."
He also found the checkout lines too long. "My time is money. My time is valuable. I used to be in sales, and we used to say you don't keep a customer waiting with money in his hands."
Dominick's destination departments did appeal to several shoppers interviewed by SN. Clementina Chavez, shopping with her 7-year-old daughter, said she was bypassing her neighborhood produce market and pharmacy by coming to the supermarket. In addition to the time savings, she finds the prices and quality comparable with local merchants, if not better.
Connie McCartney said she has found herself shopping for "greeting cards and wrapping paper" at the supermarket these days, as opposed to stand-alone retail card stores.
"The department is convenient. It's there when I'm doing my food shopping," she explained.
Jose Vega seemed to agree, since he emerged from the store carrying just one item: a greeting card. He said the selection was better than stores in his south-side neighborhood. After a "bad photo experience" at a competing store, Mike Baldassano stopped by Dominick's to pick up two sets of developed photos. The day he dropped them off was the first time he had set foot in the store. He did not buy any other items the day SN was present, but he said he probably would return in the future.
SN caught Joseph Smith dashing out of the store with a bouquet of flowers.
"I needed these at the last minute, and this was the most convenient place to go," he said before speeding away in a blue Camaro.
Dominick's bakery section, which features traditional European crusty hearth-baked breads and French pastries, also received high marks in our unscientific survey.
"Since they changed the store, it's much better, especially the bakery." said Oradee Bonhart. "I'm very picky. I shop once a month and I'm looking for quality."
Asked about the one-stop aspect of the store, Bonhart said, "It saves time when you're in a hurry. You don't have to run all over town."
"They've got everything in there. It's great," said Maricely Maldonado. One strong attraction was the bakery products, which she said were "even fresher than going to the bakery."
SN selected Dominick's because of its reputation for its destination departments. The store was built in 1986, but was just renovated and reopened in April. Some of the many features include a coffee shop; specialty bakery; expanded deli; produce department and cheese shop; custom-cut meat counter; floral boutique; wine, liquor and beer department; and pharmacy.