By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — Shoppers rave about the bright clean store and smiling employees at the new Upper West Side Trader Joe's, but the grocer is bringing more than just good vibes to the neighborhood.
A DNAinfo comparison of costs at the Trader Joe's, Fairway and Whole Foods stores on the Upper West Side shows Trader Joe's beats out its competitors with lower prices.
A bag of groceries filled with staples such as chicken, bread, coffee and produce costs $51.08 at Trader Joe's, compared with $58.47 at Fairway Market on West 74th Street and Broadway, and $68.89 at the Whole Foods on Columbus Avenue and West 97th Street.
Gretchen Berger, who lives across from Fairway, said she was "elated" when she heard Trader Joe's was moving in just two blocks south, because she's a fan of the store's "healthy and easy to cook" frozen and prepared foods.
But then she realized another benefit.
"They're going to give Fairway a run for their money," Berger said. "We need alternatives here. Everything is very expensive. Fairway's prices have gotten very high."
Trader Joe's shoppers Cynthia Boucher and Kevin Sartain said they were pleasantly shocked when they saw a package of gnocchi for just $2.00."It's unbelievable to me," Boucher said. "It's really cheap. I don't know how they do it."
But while Trader Joe's has rock bottom prices, it doesn't stock as many brands or as much inventory as Fairway and Whole Foods.
Sartain said Fairway would still have a place on his shopping rounds.
"You can't get everything at Trader Joe's," Sartain said. "You can come here for some things, but you still have to go to Fairway. You have to supplement your shopping."
Trader Joe's can beat its competitors by offering house brands instead of name brands on some popular items such as Cheerios.
Trader Joe's O's cereal, for example, costs $1.99 for 13.5 ounces compared to $5.39 for a 14-ounce box of Cheerios at Whole Foods. Fairway cost somewhere in between, with a special deal offering two 14-ounce boxes of the popular cereal for $7.00.
Trader Joe's shopper Carlton Colquitt said he's looking forward to pumped up competition among Upper West Side grocers.
"Fairway got so successful, they didn't have the incentive to be competitive," Colquitt said. "They've always been a good store. They'll just get better."