As we reported yesterday, downtown Denver will finally get a full-service grocery store thanks to a new development at 20th Street and Chestnut Place. But other than hints that it will be a "national brand," there's no word yet as to which grocery store we're gonna get.
Here are ten grocery stores we would love to score... and Trader Joe's isn't one of them.
Not including Trader Joe's on the list might seem like a sacrilege to grocery snobs, but here's the thing: Trader Joe's clearly doesn't want to come here. We can throw around all justifications we want, like blaming it on Colorado's complicated liquor laws. Let's face it, though: If Trader Joe's really wanted to come to Colorado, the celebrated chain would be here. So isn't it time we stop pining after Two-Buck Chuck and Hawaiian shirt-clad grocery clerks and start playing hard to get? After all, there are loads of other great grocers out there -- some of which (gasp) might even be better than the almighty TJ's. Yes, many of the places listed below are regional chains or one-off locations that likely can't actually set up shop in Denver -- but we can dream, can't we?
Wegmans Food Markets The mid-Atlantic supermarket chain is starting to rival Trader Joe's in terms fan fervor -- and with good reason. Imagine the low prices of TJ's mixed with the culinary bonanza of Whole Foods housed in a space the size of a Super Target and you get Wegmans. No wonder the Food Network named it Best Grocery Store in 2007 and Consumer Reports called it the top large grocery chain in 2009.
Hy-Vee Hy-Vee, a Midwestern chain, scores high marks for being employee owned and featuring clean, well-organized and well-run stores. Plus, it's fun to say its name: Hy-Vee!
Publix The fast-growing, employee-owned Florida-based chain is known for its superlative employee benefits and great store environment, having been named one of the best companies to work for in the country, as well as one of the most child-friendly grocery stores around. The stores also sport a refreshingly clean, modern design.
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Harris Teeter This southeast grocer boasts a huge organic selection and sells obscure, sustainable-raised seafood. Plus, it's been celebrated for its YouWellness For Life program, a health and nutrition program designed for employees and customers alike.
Hannaford Hannaford is the largest certified-organic food retailer in the Northeast, with a strong focus on locally grown produce. It's also developed a Guiding Stars labeling program that takes the guesswork out of deciphering which items are nutritious and which aren't.
Piggly Wiggly Who wouldn't want Piggly Wiggly's giant pig mascot smiling over all of downtown?
Jungle Jim's International Market The Fairfield, Ohio supermarket boasts indoor waterfalls, animatronic wildlife, a concert arena, a monorail and a jaw-dropping six-and-a-half acres of floor space. Some folks call it the theme park of food; we call it Casa Bonita's long-lost grocery-store relative.
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Urban Target Urban Targets are downright cool; check out the new operation at Belmar for a perfect example. Besides, it would provide a one-stop-shopping destination downtown for all your grocery, electronic gizmo and discount home decorating needs.
Sunflower Farmers Market Let's give some love to a local chain. Sunflower, founded by local grocery magnate Michael Gilliland after he sold his Boulder-based Wild Oats company to Whole Foods, is a delightful mix of healthy options and sinful treats, from top-notch produce to bin after bin of candy and sweets. Too bad as of late Gilliland has been dabbling too much in the sinful side of things; he resigned as CEO earlier this year after he was arrested for soliciting sex in Phoenix.
Alfalfa's Market Alfalfa's is back! The celebrated natural grocer, founded in Boulder in 1983, has just returned to its original People's Republic location at Broadway and Arapahoe Avenue after an odyssey of mergers and corporate buyouts -- and it even has original co-owner Mark Retzloff behind the wheel. We couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate a Colorado original than a Denver offshoot.
More from our Business archive: "IKEA's Centennial store grand opening date moved from fall to July 27: Efficient!" Follow Joel Warner on Twitter @joelmwarner