FRESH FOODS EARN INDEPENDENT TOP RANKING IN CHICAGO SHOPPERS POLL

CHICAGO -- A long-standing tradition of fine perishables helped Blue Goose Super Market earn top marks in a comprehensive survey of Chicago-area supermarket retailers.The St. Charles, Ill., independent earned a "superior" rating for overall quality from 96% of the 27 consumers who ranked the store as part of a survey conducted by Chicago Consumers' Checkbook, a semi-annual publication from the nonprofit

CHICAGO -- A long-standing tradition of fine perishables helped Blue Goose Super Market earn top marks in a comprehensive survey of Chicago-area supermarket retailers.

The St. Charles, Ill., independent earned a "superior" rating for overall quality from 96% of the 27 consumers who ranked the store as part of a survey conducted by Chicago Consumers' Checkbook, a semi-annual publication from the nonprofit Center for the Study of Services. Participating consumers were asked to grade supermarkets on a variety of areas, including quality and variety of fresh produce, quality of meat, in-stock rate, convenience of store layout and speed of checkout.

A fixture in historic downtown St. Charles, the Blue Goose is a 22,000-square-foot store operating in a rapidly growing, highly competitive market on the Fox River west of Chicago. Jewel-Osco, Dominick's, Eagle, Meijer, Super Target, Trader Joe's, Sam's Club and Aldi Foods all have stores in the region. Last year, the Blue Goose reported $11.9 million in sales volume, store officials said.

Much of those sales come from high-quality fresh-food offerings, said David Lencioni, president of the store, which was started as a produce market by his grandmother, Nancy Lencioni, and her sons in 1928. The meat department is a top sales generator, and features Certified Angus beef, he added.

The ranking took him by surprise, Lencioni said, since survey officials had not been in touch with anyone from the store.

"It came out of the blue," he said. "I was amazed."

Chicago Consumers' Checkbook compiled the results based on ratings from more than 11,000 shoppers who are area subscribers to Consumers' Checkbook and Consumers Reports magazines, the latter having published the results of a national supermarket survey in its September issue. In Chicagoland, 38 supermarkets in the city and suburbs earned ratings, with the largest chains receiving the most votes.

Other retailers who earned high marks included Trader Joe's (94%), Kramer Foods (92%), Sunset Foods (92%), County Fair Foods (90%), Whole Foods Market (76%), Peapod.com (75%), Tischler Finer Foods (75%) and Walt's Food Center (73%).