Yes, Bluffton is getting another grocery store.
Consider that sentence a very late answer to the question posed in a 2008 headline from The Island Packet: "Another grocery in Bluffton?"
Yes, yes. The answer will always be yes, no matter the year.
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Bluffton, S.C., home of the EVERY GROCERY STORE EVER.
Blufffffffffffton, you get a grocery store! You get a grocery store! And you get a grocery store!
In 2008, the announcement was that a Harris Teeter would be built at U.S. 278 and Hampton Parkway. That hasn't happened yet, obviously, but it's still in the works. This, despite the addition of about 4,000 new stores since that original plan, when it already seemed like we had our fair share.
The latest news is that Kroger Marketplace is going to open next to the Publix on Buckwalter Parkway. What?!? How dare they! We have too many Krogers as it is. Why is it so close to Publix? This makes no .... wait, there's going to be a drive-thru pharmacy, a Starbucks and a Kroger gas station?
Oh, say no more.
A Kroger gas station changes everything. I recently shed happy tears at the one on Hilton Head Island because I got 95 cents off per gallon. The maximum is a dollar! I took a picture of it and sent it to no one, because at the last second I realized absolutely no one would care.
Without a doubt, Bluffton grows grocery stores like cabbage patches grow kids -- Hilton Head does, too. Meanwhile, their neighbors north of the Broad River are left wondering what they did to annoy the strategists in suits. People in Beaufort spend money on food, too, you know? Get that, Kroger, Publix and Harris Teeter?
There are about 12,000 people living in Bluffton and eight mainstream grocery stores currently open in the area, including the Sun City Hilton Head area. On their way are the aforementioned Harris Teeter and Kroger, along with a Walmart Neighborhood Market at S.C. 170 and Bluffton Parkway and possibly a Sam's Club. On Hilton Head, there are about 39,000 residents and 12 major grocery chains, with one rumored Walmart Neighborhood Market as a possible 13th.
That is a heck of a lot of square footage devoted to our appetites, and a testament to the growth we're seeing in Bluffton -- the potential growth, in particular.
Build it, and they will all move here before the crockpot switches to "warm."
Build it, and let's hope they don't close because of an oversaturated market.
I have to say, though, I don't mind all these grocery stores.
Each has its own specialty. Publix is BOGO heaven and has great sandwiches. Kroger has decent produce and cheap generics. Whole Foods has vegan cupcakes -- don't knock them till you try them.
Plus there's the anthropological value. Whenever I visit a new town, I head straight for the grocery store like it's the chamber of commerce welcome center.
If you want to know what people are like, look in their carts.
In Estill, I encountered a raw, pink wall of ribs upon ribs upon even more ribs at a glorious Tuten's IGA. In Rome, I had my mind blown when I entered a Despar and saw that real Italians also eat Barilla pasta from a box. It's autentico! And in Dublin, Ireland, I was disgusted to discover at the Superquinn that my people consider mayonnaise to be salad dressing.
They shouldn't consider mayonnaise salad dressing.
They shouldn't consider mayonnaise anything.
So what do all these grocery stores say about us in Bluffton and on Hilton Head?
Moreover, what are we going to do with all this food?
And when, for the love of development and overgrowth, are we finally going to get that Trader Joe's?
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