Shop Small Day 249: Tony's Finer Foods

In some aspects, shopping small hasn't been that big of a change. I can't remember the last time I shopped in a department store, and it's been years since I did a grocery trip to Jewel or Dominicks. Huge stores make me a little panicky and over-whelmed: too many people and too many choices. So, I think today's store is the biggest small-shop I've been in all year...Tony's Finer Foods.

It's also why it took me 1 1/2 hours to grocery shop!

Despite it's size, Tony's really does have a family feel to it.

Going on a Sunday afternoon probably wasn't the wisest choice, it was crowded. When I got my ticket at the deli (huge Boars Head selection!) I was #31, they were on #2.

While that gave me plenty of time to wander the nearby aisles- convenintly fresh baked breads and pastries- the line did move fairly quickly. Sort of like a Portillo's drive-thru: efficient and fine-tuned.

Despite the crowds, the deli employees were patient and friendly with each customer. It reflected in the customers too- no one seemed aggrevated to wait or to hurry out of the area when they were finished.

imageUnlike most large chain stores with cookie-cutter inventory, Tony's has a fantastic selection of both unique items and ethnic staples.

I had recently stocked up on produce at Peter Rubi, but I did pick up cactus pears (?) and was intrigued by the giant jackfruit, but didn't know what to do with it.

I was also surprised to find Inca Cola, a sweet South American pop.

They have a good selection of packaged chorizo, but skip those and go for their fresh-made chorizo at the meat department. A little kick, but not overly spicy- my kids loved it.

What will bring me back to Tony's is their organic selections. Sure, every grocery store now has a "healthy & organic" shelf or two- but Tony's has every category I needed, and they weren't outrageously priced...in fact some were cheaper than "convential" brands.

Need gluten-free or specialty flours? Take your pick from dozens.

Tony's is one full-scale market where I could shop with my "non-organic" friend and we could both find all of our staples at prices that made us both happy.

Like their deli, checkout is just as friendly and efficient. I saw one cashier kindly tell her customer to stay in her motorized cart & she'd unpack the groceries for her.

The last time I was in a Dominicks (years ago) must have been around a holiday, regardless the store was really busy. Employees were scrambling to unload more boxes and help customers find items. There were three managers (?) in suits watching everything going on and never acknowledged a customer or an employee except to bark out an order to restock the shelves faster. Needless to say, it was the last time I shopped there.

At Tony's, I think the managers are definitely setting the right tone. As I was checking out, the manager addressed the young girl bagging my groceries by name, asked how she was doing today, and if there was anything she needed.

I commented to the cashier that I found that impressive and it was my first time here. She said "Cool! You're the third person this week who's told me that!"

The word is getting out.

Tony's Finer Foods has been family owned since 1979 (the first store opened on Fullerton); and they're now up to 11 stores, probably because they treat employees and customers like welcomed family.

You can find weekly specials on their website or Facebook page.

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Tony's Finer Foods
2300 S. Rte. 59 @ Caton Farm Rd
Plainfield, IL
815.733.2135

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