This post is sponsored by Giant Food who invited me to attend and cover the opening of their newest store in Owings Mills. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Are you one of the rare few that likes grocery shopping? If you’re not, the new Giant Food store in Owings Mills, Maryland might change your mind.
It seems that more and more retailers are learning that people don’t want the inconvenience of walking into a store, buying what you need, and walking back out. Doesn’t sound too hard, does it?
But online shopping has changed the way retailers interact with their customers. And even though I’m in that small circle that finds grocery shopping a little therapeutic, I’ve even been resorting to online ordering these days (by the way, it’s FANTASTIC).
Giant Food is recognizing that the way people shop has changed and therefore there stores need to change as well. That’s why the latest Giant grocery store is taking advantage of more square footage and an innovative layout, which I experienced firsthand at their grand opening.
Welcome to Giant Food Mill Station!
Mill Station is a collection of outdoor retail shops in the spot of the old Owings Mills Mall. Located at 10210 Mill Run Circle in Owings Mills, this Giant is the first store to be built from the ground up with their new in-store format and design. And that design requires space – over 66,000 square feet.
After some opening remarks from Giant personnel and a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, Lisa Schepers took to the podium to welcome everyone to her new store. It’s clear that she’s proud to be the new Store Manager and welcomed her daughter and grandchildren to the front to help her officially cut the ribbon and open the store.
Then it was my turn to wade through the police and firefighters, team mascots, local politicians, charities (Giant made several $1000 donations to local groups), and shoppers to have a look at this new format firsthand.
When You Walk in the Door
Before attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony, I wanted to read what was so special about a new grocery store. There was a great article written earlier this year after their first new format store opened in Olney, Maryland. It was clear that they understand shopper habits and needs are changing.
We don’t necessarily walk in and spend hundreds of dollars on our weekly grocery shopping. We may pop in to pick up a quick dinner before soccer practice. Or we may want to grab coffee and bagels for the office. Or we may be doing an interim shop to get a few items we need.
That’s obvious the minute you walk in the door. You’re immediately thrust into the full service area. Or what you might call “grab and go” items.
Straight ahead is the massive Produce section that showcases fruits and vegetables, with a large organic section, as well as refrigerator items like prepared salads, bagged salads, and healthy lunch kits for kids.
To your right is the Floral department for those nights when you need a quick bouquet to take to a party (or home to your wife – you know who I’m talking to).
And just beyond that, you can start your journey with the dose of caffeine you need to weather the shopping trip with a large Starbucks. (Side note: can we just admit that that Strawberry Frappuccino is just a way to make you feel better about ordering a Strawberry milkshake?)
If Starbucks isn’t your thing, you’ll also find a Freestyle Coca-Cola machine and a rather impressive display of kombucha (my personal choice!).
All of this is centered around the area called simple, Kitchen. In front of the Kitchen is a cold and hot bar full of salads and soups as well as a full buffet of hot foods that you can dish out and buy by the pound. Take your food and drink choices to the Kitchen to check out or order freshly prepared food from their counter. I sampled the flatbread and their wraps which they call piadinas.
Just beyond the Kitchen is the Cheese Shop. Me and cheese– we go way back. I have a long love affair with all types of cheese and was thrilled to see their wide selection carried not only my favorite, Fromager d’Affinois, but also their own made-in-house mozzarella (it’s true! I saw them make it!).
And what goes better with cheese than… bread! Just beyond the cheese was the Bakery, or what I like to call the calorie instigator. Fresh artisan breads, cookies, donuts, bagels, cupcakes, tarts… you get the idea. I got out of there quickly because I think I gained 2 pounds just looking.
You can get your protein fill though. On either side of the Bakery was the Deli and the Meat & Seafood departments. I always get my lunch meats from their deli because they carry our favorite – Boar’s Head. And in the seafood section, I know I can get my preferred fish, wild caught salmon (it’s better for you!).
And all of that is just in the immediate area when you walk in the door. Whew.
The Rest of the Store
Don’t worry. I’m not going to take you aisle by aisle. I want to get excited to check it all out on your own. But I will tell you to wear comfortable shoes. 66,000 square feet is a lot to cover. In fact, one woman suggested they put benches in the store so you can take a break while shopping!
But even the regular areas seem fancier. The Dairy and Egg sections use glass doors instead of the cooler bins. And specialty aisles like Natural Foods and Health & Beauty have small LED light strips in the shelves just making everything look that much better.
And if you’re worried that it’s too much store for you because you have other errands to run, you can use their large, full-service Pharmacy or get your banking done at the in-store PNC Bank branch.
Why I Visited This Giant 3 Times in One Day
It should be pretty clear that I enjoyed my time at Giant. I went for the ribbon cutting. I walked around the store, twice. Ate samples, took pictures, and then went home. So how did I end up there 2 more times in one day?
Because it was Friday, we decided to go to the movies that night. Our regular theater happens to be very close by so I suggested we stop by so I could show my family the new store and maybe grab a bite to eat. Yes, that’s right. We ate dinner at the grocery store!
And then after the movie, my husband said, “do you mind if I pick up a jug of kombucha?” I waited in the car while he got his kombucha and a dozen eggs and HP sauce (“there’s a British section!” he later told me). Clearly this Giant Food store gets me and I’m looking forward to going back!
Check out more about Giant Food stores throughout Virginia, Maryland, and DC!