Checking out the new Honest Weight location

new honest weight location wide

By Daniel B.

Maybe the problem wasn't the parking lot, but rather the drivers. Honest Weight Food Co-op's old parking lot will be fondly remembered by no one. Now they have a brand new parking lot that's much bigger than the old one, and a whole new building to go with it. But still, finding a spot might be a challenge.

The new market opened Wednesday, even though the official grand opening isn't until August, and shoppers around noon were remarking on how they had to drive around the lot a few times before they found a space.

But there are plenty of bike racks right out front and a CDTA bus stop (#125) on the corner (and a stop for the #138 a block up the street).

There has been a lot of hand wringing about this new location, but I have to admit, taking I-90 to Everett Road exit 5 makes the trip super convenient, easier to get to than the Albany ShopRite, Price Chopper or Hannaford that all compete within a very narrow radius of each other.

Parking and accessibility aside, how is the new co-op different from the old co-op? For some it may take a little getting used to -- for others it is likely a dream come true.

new honest weight exterior closeup

The corrugated metal siding of the new building isn't full of charm. But there are a few warming touches once you get through the automated sliding doors.

Yes, gone are the days of holding open the door for a parent with a baby in one arm and groceries in the other. And gone are the days of struggling with the heavy door while wheeling your shopping cart into the parking lot. This is one of many modern features in the new store.

Like the plastic shopping carts that come in two sizes. The green ones are larger, the gray smaller. And they are made out of plastic. I'm hoping they are created from recycled materials given the ethical leanings of the co-op. But I didn't see any kind of signs telling the story of the carts. There were signs that featured local farmers and producers.

The same, but more

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Really though I spent most of my time looking at the food.

Like the breath of fresh air that's the expanded fresh produce section. In the last store, the fruits and vegetables were spread out along the sides of the store. Now it feels like one cohesive section and it makes comparison shopping between apples and oranges truly feasible.

Immediately behind the produce is the newly expanded bulk foods section. It's really big. And for an adventurous food lover, it's hard not to feel like a kid in a candy store. Because not only are there a staggering number of things to cook with, they are all available in small units. So if you want to experiment with Thai purple sticky rice, you don't have to buy a whole pound of it, you can just get a half cup. The same goes for the dried seaweed, head-spinning selection of flours, and impressive array of unusual salts.

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The bulk section meets up with refrigerated dairy on the north side of the store. The co-op continues to have milk from all of the local farms that you would expect, a wide variety of smaller production yogurts, and an impressive array of eggs.

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And then the aisles give way to the massive cheese counter and its associated gourmet items laid out on the shelves at its feet. Like at the old store, the vast majority of the cheeses have been pre-cut and pre-wrapped for your convenience. Giving out tastes is still a key part of the experience. But this was the first time I noticed "RAW" stickers indicating which cheeses were made with unpasteurized milk. This is really helpful, because if you like good cheese, you generally want to seek out these raw milk cheeses.

Different

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Tucked away in the farthest corner of the store is the co-op's new meat and seafood counter. Everything else in the market feels like an expanded and updated version of the old store, but this is something different. Instead of freezers stocked with frozen or vacuum-sealed pouches of meat, they now have an actual butcher case filled with fresh cuts of meat, housemade sausages, and a variety of both shellfish and finfish. On top of that there is another case with pre-wrapped steaks, packages of fresh bacon, and portions of fresh poultry.

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The deli has gotten a significant makeover, too, and bears little resemblance to the cozy kitchen and counter at the Central Avenue location. Mostly that is from the eight flat screen televisions that serve as a menu board above the galley.

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Still, food from the hot bar or the deli can be brought out to the little eating area that's clean, colorful, and well lit. There are a handful of seats outside where you can watch the parking shenanigans, or you could do that from the comfort of a window seat inside.

Overall

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The aisles aren't super roomy. They can get backed up with people's carts trying to navigate around member workers. But that may be part of the charm.

Just like in the last store, some of the prices on packaged goods approach double the cost of the identical products elsewhere in town. But there are good values to be found, and savvy shoppers will take advantage of these items, especially when they go on sale.

There are also a few things that left me scratching my head, like the multiple shelves of kids toys and the end aisle display that was full of socks. Yes, socks.

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But for the most part the new co-op is everything you loved about the old co-op, now with just more of it. And it's reassuring to see that despite being in a newly-built space with fancy lighting and high tech gadgets, that you can still carry out your groceries in a repurposed box taken from a pile strewn on a shelf near the exit.

Just be careful driving out of the parking lot. Maybe it's the after glow from shopping in this long-awaited expansion, but people are navigating it like maniacs.

Daniel B. is the proprietor of the FUSSYlittleBLOG.

Honest Weight advertises on AOA.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Cheese guru Gustav Ericson leaving Honest Weight
+ A peek at the new Honest Weight store
+ Checking out the Healthy Living Market and Cafe

Find It

Honest Weight Food Co-op new location
Watervliet Ave and Commerce Ave
Albany, NY 12206

Comments

Congratulations, Honest Weight.

Maybe it depended on the time of day. When I arrived mid-afternoon I found a parking spot easily even though the parking lot was quite full. I thought the lot was laid out nicely and easy to navigate - I also like how easy it is to walk through the lot (well-laid out pedestrian crossing between cars, etc).

I thought the store was BEAUTIFUL! People inside seemed to be HAPPY. I love that about HWFC! I think I had the same problem - my only trouble navigating came from weaving around the member workers who seemed a bit discombobulated. But that's ok! I always love the Coop vibe - and even during a grand opening it was busy but not stressful like the local chains (I'm looking at you Shop Rite & PC).

I was super impressed by the bulk selections and prices. They do, however, need to better sharpen those wee golf pencils. I scored a lot of good stuff but sadly was behind the guy who got the last free tote in the check out line. The woman who checked me out said they were doing business like the day before Thanksgiving. A store worker approached me as I put my groceries in my car and chit chatted for a minute before taking my cart for me. So lovely!

I honestly see the new HWFC becoming my new primary store to supplement my summer CSA shares. While I've been loyal to Hannaford for that role in the past, their inability to stock happy meat for the occasional carnivore meal has me looking elsewhere. Good luck to HWFC!

"...it's reassuring to see that despite being in a newly-built space with fancy lighting and high tech gadgets, that you can still carry out your groceries in a repurposed box taken from a pile strewn on a shelf near the exit. " I love it - this is the best run-down of the new space that I've seen. I'm hoping to make my maiden voyage tonight. Bring on the cheese!

Random I know, but does anyone know if the co-op sells coconut aminos? Hard to find in the capital region. I will have to check out the new location soon!

It looks just like Whole Foods! I'm excited to check it out!

No matter how much room they have to maneuver in, it comes down to a simple fact: hippies can't drive.

I initially had a couple of misgivings about the new store because it means a much longer walk for me. But I stopped in around noon yesterday AND I LOVE IT.

I actually used the same phrase as Daniel....kid in a candy store. I noticed so many new items that I can't wait to try.

The new store looks beautiful, too. It might not have the same cramped, folksy charm as the old one, but it's fantastic and I can't wait to go back.

Coconut aminos! Co-op has em, so does Dean's. Saw them at the 1st Shop Rite on Central once, but haven't looked lately.

The place looks great!

Beer!

I am so proud of the leadership team, the board, the workers, and the members who have moved this project to completion. Become a member if you're not. Become more active if you are. It is possible to have a local food store that is owned by the members, not by Monsanto. Yes we can.

It was crowded-yes- but it was the most crowded day EVER in the coop's history!! Even more customers and sales than pre-thanksgiving shopping. You can expect to have plenty of room to shop during normal times! And please remember spending money here instead of big box chains provides many hard working staff with a decent wage and health benefits- something that doesn't happen at price chopper, hannaford, trader joes, etc. the coop also supports many small businesses and locally owned places by way of donation, partnerships and community ties.

also, the carts are made of recycled plastic.

Best,
Marwin

So somehow, the fact that the co-op has a slammin' beer selection now was missed. Maybe they didn't have time to keep it stocked at first, but... wow. Petrus Aged Red. Delirium Tremens. Ommegang. St. Peter's. And your member discount applies...

Trader Joe's is not a big box store. The customers provide the staff a chance to earn a very good wage. Prices are much cheaper and there is local product. Co-op has products not carried there for sure.

@Lou, my only problem with Trader Joe's is their low prices are often derived from using distribution channels that rob folks of a fair wage elsewhere, chiefly developing countries. When the COOP can't source something locally, they work hard to bring in products through the "fair trade" system. By no means is the COOP perfect on this aspect, but I feel like they provide a much better mix than Trader Joe's, which I feel tends to put a premium on costs to the customers rather than the broader social impacts. Nonetheless, I do appreciate the diversity of food options in the Capital Region, giving folks many avenues to satisfy all their needs from costs, to local support, to fair trade.

Most of Trader Joe's products are from the US. They want to bring the best tasting products, that don't contain GMOs or other additives to their consumers.

Re: the socks-- we had those at the old store as well. Some are made with organic cotton by a company that has pledge to uphold fair-labor standards; others are upcycled, made out of scrap fabrics that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Very much something that fits in with the co-op's values and deserves a place on our shelves. FYI!

Starting a post about this beautiful, wonderful new store with the sentence "Maybe the problem wasn't the parking lot, but rather the drivers. " is just baffling.

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