It’s finally here—a supermarket other than Fro–Gro that won’t cost you a trip downtown. The Giant Heirloom Market opened on Aug. 2 right next to Domus Apartments. While regular Giant stores compete mainly with Acme and Aldi, the premium Heirloom Market is in the same playing field as Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market. What differentiates the Heirloom Market from typical run–of–the–mill Giant stores is an urban store format and a curated assortment of items based on local residents’ feedback.

As I walked into the market, I was greeted by a large produce section containing mostly organic and high–quality fruits and vegetables, in addition to several grab–and–go lunch salads. “We hang our hat on produce,” explained Angel Cordero, the store manager of the new supermarket. “We get produce deliveries every day, not just several times a week. That way, we can make sure that everything is fresh.”

Photo: Sally Chen

I continued to the packaged food section, where I found the DIY olive oil bar and One Village Coffee station. I created my own olive oil and vinegar blend by choosing from the selection of oils (extra virgin, garlic, or lemon) and vinegars (balsamic, fig, or peach) and my desired proportion of each. Then, the machine worked its magic and created my personal blend—though it set me back $10.99. In the next aisle, I tried out the grind–your–own–beans option at the coffee station. I selected the medium dark “Artist” roast from Honduras, which was roasted just a week prior to my visit, and used the machine to grind the beans to my liking.

As I progressed into the prepared foods section, I felt like I was entering a completely separate establishment. The first area that caught my eye was the gourmet cheese section, complete with pairing recommendations. The cheese is conveniently located next to fresh bread, bagels, granola, donuts, croissants, and muffins from High Street on Market and pastries from Isgro Pasticceria. “There are only two places where you can get fresh pastries from High Street on Market and Isgro—the retail stores themselves or the Heirloom Markets, and they’re sold at the same price either way,” Cordero commented. When I asked Cordero what his favorite item in the entire Heirloom Market was, he passionately, and without hesitation, expressed his love for the Isgro cannolis.

Photo: Sally Chen

Next up in the prepared foods section was the deli and sandwich kitchen. As I browsed through the selection of Boar’s Head meats and sandwiches, the chef told me that he would be slicing a fresh set of cold cuts in about two minutes. If I wanted something quick but wasn’t in the mood for a sandwich, I could go to the grab–and–go section, which included soups, pastas, mac and cheese, salmon, chicken parmesan, and meatloaf.

I next watched the sushi chef prepare fresh sushi. He seemed friendly—so friendly that he stopped what he was doing to ask how he could help me when he saw me surveying his work. To my dismay, the day I visited the market wasn’t a Wednesday, so I couldn’t enjoy Sushi Wednesday—when certain rolls (including the Blazing California Roll, Veggie Roll, and Crunchy Shrimp Roll) go for $4.99.

Photo: Sally Chen

Just in time for my sweet tooth, I reached the My/Mo Mochi bar, which offers a variety of mochi flavors for $1.50 a piece, a steep markup from the packages of six pieces of My/Mo mochi that sell for $4.99 at other stores. 

Photo: Sally Chen

Finally, I found the highly anticipated kombucha on tap, with a selection of four different kombuchas and two different cold brews. There’s also a robust selection of local beers and wines.

Photo: Sally Chen

For those who can’t wait to eat their groceries, there’s a seating area that includes free wifi, a microwave, silverware, cookbooks, and even some board games. But if you’re in a rush to get out, the self–checkout stations have your back. The checkout experience was designed with the target market in mind. “Our customers are familiar with technology that makes checkout faster, and they want to get in and get out,” explained Cordero. Customers can also pay on their mobile device by downloading the “Scan It!” app. If customers want an item that’s sold at other Giant stores but not at the Heirloom Market, such as pet food or baby food, they can order items online for next-day pickup (via Giant Direct)—all they have to do is get a bonus card, which is free.

Photo: Sally Chen

Overall, the Heirloom Market has a tasteful selection and exceptional customer service, but it may cost you a pretty penny. Lots of the organic products at the Heirloom Market are from Nature’s Promise, a private label brand from Giant’s parent company. Below, I’ve compared the prices of some common Nature’s Promise products to those of Heirloom Market’s main competitors (Whole Foods and Sprouts in terms of quality and Trader Joe’s and Fresh Grocer in terms of convenience and price).

Photo: Kai JH

But if you're in the market for a good deal on kombucha or the best of Philadelphia's pastries, Heirloom Market might be your new spot.

TL;DR: The new Heirloom Market has its target market in mind with organic produce, prepared foods, domestic beers and wines, self–checkout, and great customer service, but these come at a steep price compared to its competitors.

Location: 3401 Chestnut St.

Hours: Monday – Sunday, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Price: $$