SHAW'S ON BEACON STREET
Small old building. Tiny aisles. Cramped with goods. They've had to create their own aisles on one side of the store just to have extra space. I wonder what it used to be. Carries Moxie. Ancient thick green metal shopping carts with some space-age "just try and take 'em home" brake device on each. Buy a deflated mylar balloon, have someone fill it with helium for you. There's a tunnel right next to the store that goes under the train tracks so you can get to Cambridge Street. Conveniently located to me, then, since I'm right up the hill. Not the best prices though. Clientele seems to be many of the twentysomethings who live in the area. I've seen far too many folks walking around there with their ears glued to a cellphone, but on the whole it's rather quiet and not so crowded.
MARKET BASKET ON CAMBRIDGE STREET
Biggest building of them all. Rather old. Beautiful signage out front and a stylized clock in the center of the store is also a lovely throwback to a bygone era. Cramped aisles, still. Sawdust on the floors and we all have our own theories as to why. Usually crowded whenever I go. Lotsa folks of all ethnicities buying lotsa food for big families. Lots of kids running around underfoot. The place is more alive, it seems, than the Beacon Shaw's, especially the front. The front is an exercise in controlled chaos. It's very interesting to watch while you're in line (and you will be in line.) Also, use the left side when entering the store cause that's the only way to get to the goods. The right side should be exit-only unless you enjoy running the shopping cart gauntlet all the way to the left side (which, as mentioned previously, is the only way to get to the goods.)
PORTER SQUARE SHAW'S
Also known as the Ninth Circle of Hell. Amazing how urban blight can totally infest the feel of a store, even though Porter's usually nowhere near as urbany or blighty as reflected in the supermarket. I tend to stay away from this store for many many reasons, but the biggest reason seems to be the incredible lack of space in the store. There's no breathing room. Very claustrophobic. You can tell they've tried desperately to shove as much supermarket into as little an existing grocery store space as possible, resulting in a mass clusterfuck of humanity and commerce. Frankly, the entire Porter Square Shopping Center with the exception of the CVS and the hardware store can go suck it for all I care, but the Shaw's is indeed the worst offender.
BREAD & CIRCUS (NOW DROPPING THE ROMAN THEME AND GOING FOR THE "WHOLE EARTHY CRUNCHY HAPPY TREE FOLK WELCOME TO RIVENDELL MY NAME IS LEGOLAS FOODS") IN CENTRAL
Too pricy for my budget at the moment so I stay away. The B&C chain used to be good solely because it was the only chain what stocked Annie's macaroni and cheese, but dear Annie has been branching out and now you can find the stuff most anywhere.
FOODMASTER ON CAMBRIDGE STREET
The name scares me so I don't go. HARK I AM THE FOODMASTER ARE YOU THE STOMACHKEEPER