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Local Grocers Dominate Market, Embrace Innovation Across Massachusetts

Massachusetts grocers

Last updated on July 16th, 2024 at 04:31 pm

Massachusetts shoppers have a diverse selection of grocery stores to choose from, thanks to a strong presence of regional chains alongside new entrants. This fragmented market offers a variety of shopping experiences but also presents challenges in ensuring equitable access to healthy food options.

When looking for a grocery store in Massachusetts, shoppers are likely to encounter names synonymous with the state – Market Basket, Stop & Shop, Big Y, Roche Bros. These established grocers have carved out their positions, offering distinct advantages to loyal customers.

Family-owned Market Basket enjoys a cult following. Its success hinges on a simple yet powerful formula – competitive prices and a focus on fresh produce. Customers rave about the quality of its fruits and vegetables, consistently ranking the grocer among the best in the state.

Stop & Shop offers a balance between national brands and competitive pricing. It caters to a broad range of shoppers, with a strong loyalty program (GO Rewards) and a growing online grocery ordering service.

Stop & Shop recently partnered with DoorDash for on-demand grocery delivery across nearly 400 stores. Accessible via the DoorDash app, it complements Stop & Shop’s delivery and pickup options. The grocer’s loyalty program is integrated, aiming to attract current and new customers.

Gordon Reid, president of Stop & Shop, said DoorDash’s reputation for providing great customer service aligns with the grocer’s mission of providing high quality products at affordable prices with excellent customer service. 

“We are excited to offer this new option for our loyal customers and serving new customers through DoorDash,” Reid said.

Big Y, one of the largest independents in New England, is expanding its presence in Massachusetts. New stores are planned, and a recent renovation of its West Springfield location exemplifies the commitment to growth and local offerings. The expanded Hispanic grocery section in the store features ingredients and pantry staples from across Latin America, including Brazil and the Caribbean. 

“Our mission at Big Y has always been to provide our customers with a diverse selection of high-quality products that meet their culinary needs and preferences,” said Mike Cormier, SVP of sales and marketing at Big Y.

“With the introduction of our new Hispanic grocery section, we are excited to offer an even broader range of options, allowing our customers to explore and experience the rich and vibrant flavors of Latin American cuisine, including new local offerings.”

Beyond catering to specific ethnicities, Big Y emphasizes local products across all departments, partnering with more than 500 local businesses to offer some 4,000 items.

[RELATED: Big Y’s Store Remodels Focus On Sustainability First]


Roche Bros., a family-run grocer with more than 70 years of experience, stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of a personal touch. What began as a single meat market has blossomed into one of the most distinguished supermarket chains in Massachusetts. 

Brothers Ed and Rick Roche said growth has been possible, in part, because they have never strayed from their core values – providing exceptional service and high-quality products.

Their portfolio boasts 21 stores – 17 full-scale Roche Bros. supermarkets and four Brothers Marketplace formats. These smaller neighborhood stores focus on local and hyper-local products, with perishables as a central focus. Each location boasts a distinct personality, designed and merchandised to reflect the character of the town it serves.

Roche Bros. recently embarked on a modernization effort, as exemplified by the six-month renovation of its Chestnut Street store in Needham. Tristen Kendall-Barros, VP of marketing for the supermarket chain, explained the goal was “to appeal to a new set of customers but maintain that nostalgia for the customers they have.” 

The renovation resulted in an expanded bakery and cheese department, a sushi bar, larger prepared food section and more grab-and-go options. In addition, self-checkout lanes were introduced, with the layout, equipment and décor revamped to create a more inviting and accessible space. Subtle nods to the community, such as incorporating Needham street names, further solidify Roche Bros.’ commitment to its local roots.

Newcomers spice up scene

While established players continue to evolve, Massachusetts also is welcoming newcomers to the scene. H Mart, a Korean grocery retailer, is set to open in Somerville this summer, offering a selection of Asian specialties to a diverse clientele. 

Given its location in Davis Square, H Mart is expected to draw a wide range of shoppers, including students from nearby Tufts University. According to news reports, it also will be the only grocery store in the vicinity, with the next closest option a 20-minute walk away.

MOM’s Organic Market, specializing in organic and sustainable products, recently opened its second location in the state. Its shopping experience stands in stark contrast to the traditional grocery store model. Music is kept low, aisles are wider for easier navigation and the staff takes a more subtle approach, aiming not to be intrusive. 

The focus on perishables is evident, with MOM’s holding the distinction of being the only grocery store in the U.S. to offer 100-percent sustainable seafood. Its commitment to certified organic produce translates into a smaller department compared to traditional stores. However, it allows the retailer to ensure peak freshness via daily deliveries.

Known for its bulk foods, more than 250 options are available, ranging from coffee and teas to spices and grains. MOM’s prioritizes organic, sustainable ingredients with a focus on low-carbon-footprint products. It ditches bottled water and plastic bags, also accepting customer recycling (eyeglasses, batteries, etc.). Analysts believe this approach will help MOM’s carve a niche in upscale Natick, despite competition from Aldi, Roche Bros., Stop & Shop, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market.

Food deserts remain concern

Despite the abundance of choices in some areas, access to affordable, fresh groceries remains a challenge in low-income communities. A report by The Food Trust highlights Massachusetts’ low supermarket-to-capita ratio, creating food deserts for many residents. The organization called for collaboration between policymakers, grocers and community groups to address this disparity. 

According to the report’s findings, a key element of this strategy is for state and local governments to create a grant and loan program to support local supermarket development.

About the author

Carol Radice

Senior Content Creator

Carol joins The Shelby Report with more than 25 years writing for B2B magazines that cover the drugstore and supermarket industries. A Rutgers graduate, she earned her B.A. degree in journalism and mass communications more years ago than she cares to admit. She is thrilled to be working with such an accomplished team and to share her knowledge of the industry with Shelby’s readers.

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