There’s a new player in the Florida grocery scene and last week we had our first chance to check them out. GFS, short for Gordon Food Services, is a well known restaurant supply store. GFS currently has 150 Marketplace Store locations, storefronts for the public to come in and shop like a chef. Their tag line reads something like “Warehouse Prices without Membership Fees!” GFS currently has Marketplace Stores in Wisonsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentuckey, Tennessee and Florida.
My husband and I arranged to meet at a GFS about 45 minutes from our home on a Thursday evening at 5:30pm. This is the downside to GFS, there are only 16 locations in Florida and we have to drive 45 minutes to get to the two nearest. This is why we don’t have a membership to a club warehouse store, they’re just too far away. GFS, however, is convenient to my husband’s work so in the future he’ll be able to stop off on the way home to get what we need.
My husband and I no longer belong to a warehouse club not only because of location, but because when we did shop at one our grocery spending doubled but we consumed the food just as quickly. Jason and I have two rules when it comes to stores like GFS; 1. do not buy the item if we wouldn’t buy it at a regular store and 2. base the price per serving on our usual consumption. Basically this means that we won’t buy a massive box of granola bars just because it’s a good price, if we wouldn’t buy them at our regular store we won’t buy it at a warehouse store.
When we entered GFS I was amazed at how empty it was. I saw one man paying at checkout and three employees. The store had plenty of parking, was well-lit, organized sensibly and the aisles were clear of debris and boxes. When we entered the store the manager greeted us, and when we asked an employee who was stocking frozen food where a sale item was located she dropped what she was doing, took us to the item and told us that if we wanted more we could always call them a day ahead of time and order the item. I was very impressed with her product knowledge, efficiency and politeness. Check-out was a breeze and the cashier was also very nice.
GFS sells restaurant & party sized food, meaning, if you want to buy salad dressing here you’ll have to buy a half a gallon bottle. You can also buy party supplies, stemware, take-out boxes and chef coats here.
The real benefit in a family shopping at GFS is the prices of meat and frozen foods. My husband and I purchased a 40lb case of chicken for $59.99 or $1.50/lb. This beats the local Zaycon price by $.29/lb, making GFS chicken a whopping $12 cheaper per case! The quality was amazing too, this isn’t previously frozen or fat-laden chicken.
Other great prices included 80 all beef hot dogs for $24 (Kosher hot dogs were 40/$24, mixed meat hot dogs were 100/$24), whole pork loins for $1.79/lb, an entire chub of tavern-style ham for $1.99/lb (they will slice it for free!) and a 3 lb block of medium cheddar cheese for $8. A 6 lb bag of frozen fruit was $9 and a 25lb bag of all purpose flour was $9.99, $10.49 if you wanted high gluten, $11.99 for whole wheat. Milk cost $3.79 for a gallon of whole, which is identical to the Publix price but $.70 more expensive than the Aldi price.
Generally speaking, GFS prices were better than Publix by far. GFS prices seem to be about even with Aldi prices, though Aldi does have better prices on most non-meat items, including organic, which GFS does not carry.
We will definately be returning to GFS for our meat purchases and party needs. In the end we used about 1/5 of our monthly grocery budget here, paying slightly over $100 for a huge can of coffee (HUGE!), a 4lb bag of prewashed salad greens and our meat for the month.