Cleanliness and Attractiveness 7
Food Quality 10
Comparison Shopping 7
Harris Teeter Review
I don’t know how it even happens. Almost every day, I end up at Harris Teeter, and that’s truly not an exaggeration. I have so many nicknames for the supermarket too:
“I’m headed to HT! See you in 30!”
“Need anything from the Teet?”
“OMG THE HAIRY TEETER HAS BOGO ICE CREAM RIGHT NOW.”
It’s somewhat embarrassing of the love I have for that grocery store. Whenever I check my bank account, all I see is Harris Teeter. The HT was there for me through my college days, through my unemployed days, and everything in between. And for that, I am thankful.
Trying to explain the soft spot in my heart for Harris Teeter is equivalent to someone from Florida trying to explain to a Midwesterner his or her love for Publix’s subs. It’s just not really possible.
I mean, the mascot is Harry the Happy Dragon for Christ’s sake. I’m now starting to sound weird and a slightly looney, so I’ll get to my actual review.
Despite my love for Harris Teeter, it’s not perfect. With that being said, I present you with my review of the supermarket. I promise I’ll keep my grocery-store-of-choice bias out of it.
I told you I could be fair. Plain and simple, the parking at the majority of Harris Teeters’ throughout the Triangle is incredibly awful. Not just awful, but I’m talking ‘IF YOU TAKE MY SPOT, I’LL GET OUT OF THIS CAR AND HIT YOU’ type of parking. Especially at the Cameron Village location. The Harris Teeter at North Hills isn’t much better having to opt for the parking garage, and the one off of Glenwood is small too. My advice would be to avoid the chain any time after work near 5:30 p.m. The same goes for Sunday night, as everyone and their mother seems to do grocery shopping for the week during that time. If we were just scoring this based on parking, Harris Teeter gets zero points.
However, the redemption in convenience is the fact that the store always has plenty of carts and baskets. They are one of the few chains that offers both large and small carts, because what single girl needs a large cart for a week’s worth of groceries? Definitely not me.
Points also come from the convenience of Harris Teeter’s ExpressLane. You can order your groceries online, with curbside pickup on the same day. I’m not going to go into a dissertation about it, but I’d imagine it’s a great service for soccer moms who are about to be late to pick up Timmy for the fourth time this week.
Self-checkout lanes are also a thing at Harris Teeter, which is my go-to. At the Cameron Village location, there are four registers on either end of the store. I never wait more than three minutes to check out. There are also keys above each self-checkout register with PLU codes if you can’t find your vegetables or fruit in the computer system upon initial search.
Cleanliness and Attractiveness: 7/10
Overall, Harris Teeter is extremely clean and well kept. Only once, there were a few fruit flies near the bananas that I was reaching for, but hey – there’s only so much you can do about those pesky things that, I swear to God, come from thin air. Moving along.
The floors always look mopped, and never are sticky. The environment inside is friendly. Even the shoppers walking around with large carts seem to be aware of their surroundings and are courteous. Just don’t step in front of the woman trying to pick out her perfect, organic head of broccoli.
All of the shelves are very organized, but not everything is always stocked, and that’s where Harris Teeter loses a few points. I’ve been to several different Harris Teeter’s spread throughout the Triangle, and have seen the same problem with certain vegetables. Depending on the season, it seems that the most popular vegetables are hard to keep stocked. Aside from that, there have been a few times when selections are limited with things like breakfast foods (see picture) on any given day. Obviously, I don’t know when Harris Teeter restocks, so it could just be my timing which is usually late at night.
The vegetables and fruit along with the deli and bakery/in-store bars are usually on the outskirts at Harris Teeter. Aisle labels are bold and accurately categorize things together. For example, the International Foods aisle has labels in and among itself with food sectioned off by parts of the world such as Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, etc.
Food quality: 10/10
I’m going with a perfect 10 for food quality at Harris Teeter. There are a lot of reasons to back this up. The fruit and vegetables are always fresh. Every time I shop, it seems as if the sprinkling system has just watered the vegetables.
You can always tell the quality of a store by its pineapples (just kidding, I made that up on the spot), but Harris Teeter delivers on all of its fruit. They also have a deli with a variety of meat selections including Boar’s Head. Every day, they place samples of certain meats and cheeses out for you to try. As a bonus, the Sub Shop is located as a division of the deli with daily deals. For a 6-inch sub, you’ll pay $3.49 if you go with the daily deal. Their subs are great. I eat them at least once a week.
Harris Teeter also has a cheese selection that’s overwhelming if I’m being honest. I head straight for the mozzarella, and even that provides me with too many options. I don’t know if I want a ball of, a block of, part skim mozzarella, or extra creamy mozzarella.
Finally, they have a chef-prepared Heat and Eat section with things like buffalo wings, egg salad, potato salad, and much more. If you pour it into your own serving dish, I’d be willing to bet that you’d get compliments on the food’s taste. My favorite is the chicken salad.
Harris Teeter is known for being a bit pricey. It just is. This is a known fact. However, you bet that I’m picking Harris Teeter over Whole Foods all day, every day. They have a VIC card program, and I rarely buy anything that isn’t on sale. Often, Harris Teeter will do “buy two, get three free” deals on random items such as shredded cheese or ice cream. One time in college, I brought home five pints of ice cream and they were gone in five nights. I’ve never been so ashamed.
Here are some staples to give you an idea of Harris Teeter’s typical prices:
- Skim milk – $3.59 store brand
- Half-gallon of orange juice – $3.99 for Tropicana
- A dozen eggs – $1.59 for store brand
- Pound of chicken breast – $1.99
- This is a deal that only Harris Teeter offers. If you go to the deli and ask for however many chicken breasts that you need, you’ll get them for $1.99 per pound. This isn’t the case with the pre-packaged chicken. However, it’s my favorite little-known secret. You’ll save so much money on poultry this way.
- Apple Jacks – $3.99 vs. $2.79 for store brand equivalent
- Family-sized detergent – $13.99 for Tide, $12.99 for Gain
- Shampoo – $3.69 for a bottle of Garnier Fructis
My advice? Don’t shop at Harris Teeter without a VIC card. At certain locations in the Triangle, they even offer a 5 – 10% discount every time you purchase something for college students who sign up for a VIC card. I miss those days.
Comparison Shopping: 7/10
Harris Teeter has a decent selection when it comes to beating out their competition in terms of offerings on different brands of certain items. I looked at several items that people normally buy, and came up with the following results.
Harris Teeter offers roughly seven different brands of toilet paper, depending on weather you’d like to wipe with the equivalent of cardboard or toilet tissue from the gods themselves (I see you Quilted Northern Ultra Plush). They even offer a Seventh Generation brand, which is 100% recycled for all of you green, vegan weirdos out there.
Their soup selection is slightly slacking, as I only counted five brands of soup. I was at Target earlier today and saw more than five. The well-known brands including Campbell’s and Progresso were present, but there wasn’t much more to offer aside from that.
Harris Teeter redeems itself from its lack of soup selection when you move on to the dog food aisle. I counted 13 brands of dog food, with variety among those. Does your dog have arthritis? Harris Teeter probably has a special brand for that.
The beer and wine selection is solid too, with a walk-in beer cooler as well as an entire aisle of craft beers and seasonal favorites. Wine is labeled by country of origin, type and color.
In terms of organization, it’s hard not to give Harris Teeter a good score. Nothing is truly hard to find, whereas I’ve been other places and had to search for a cupcake for 10 minutes before finding it. Everything is labeled clearly and boldly with no stupid labels. I only say that because once I was at Piggly Wiggly at Hilton Head and one of the aisles had a label that said “Butt Wipes.” Picture for proof.
In order to give this category eight points, I chose several items beforehand and gauged how long it took to find them.
- Light bulbs: Right away. The item was labeled on one of the aisles and there was a large selection to choose from.
- Rubbing alcohol and Advil (or equivalent): Fairly easily. The rubbing alcohol was in the middle section, with all of the other medicines and such. Their medicine aisle is broken down by type of ailment such as cold, allergies, indigestion, etc. They even have things like flavored Goodies powder. Any store that has flavored Goodies gets points in my book.
- Colored pencils: Right away. Once again, there is a “School Supplies” section that’s labeled on the aisle.
- Mousetraps: I had a hard time finding the mousetraps. In college, I lived in an old house and we had a major mouse/rat problem. Vom. I couldn’t remember where I had found the mousetraps several years ago, so it took me several minutes. I finally located them next to the charcoal, which is not where I would have imagined. They were also down at the very bottom of the shelf, and the selection was limited.
- Sloppy Joe mix: Fairly quickly. The Sloppy Joe mix was with all of the soup/bean offerings, in one of the first few aisles upon walking in.
This supermarket seems to have a ‘Let’s put alcohol on sale!!!’ fetish. Everywhere you turn, there is some time of wine or alcohol-containing mixture right in front of your face with a yellow tag on it. Unfortunately for me, I happen to love red wine so I’m not really complaining about the sales. To give you an example however, I found Barefoot wine on sale next to the freshly baked pies, as well as premade margarita mix for sale alongside the chips. Whatever. I’m sure the marketing managers know what they are doing. Chalk it up to the drunchies.
The most interesting on-sale item I saw on display was Zevia zero-calorie soda. Who wants to drink nasty flavored, sparking soda? Not me. It’s probably on sale because they just want to get rid of it. Minus two points, Glen Coco. Beefy jerky sticks are placed at almost every register as an impulse item, along with the usual plethora of candy and gum. I will give a shout out to Harris Teeter for carrying my favorite flavor of 5 Gum, Wintermint, as there are many supermarkets that I usually can’t find it in.
Coffee is always on sale, and Harris Teeter has a wide range of selections alongside a machine where you can grind your own beans. They also have a jelly bean bar at the Cameron Village location, where they usually offer some sort of sale. Last week, it was $7.99 for a pound of Jelly Belly beans. To each their own.
I observed a selection of winter hats on clearance, as well as a variety of scarves for impulse buys when you decide that you can’t survive the 20-foot walk to your car in the freezing temperatures.
Harris Teeter also offers an extensive selection of balloons and flowers, and they even carry the silver and gold numbered balloons. Yes, the ones that every basic girl has in her Instagram on her birthday. When I was there the other day, I noticed Thanksgiving balloons to go along with the 500 Thanksgiving cards they have in the card section. Whoever gives Thanksgiving cards – I do not know – but props to Harris Teeter for making that possible.
I found several off-the-wall items at Harris Teeter, but nothing too crazy. I gave this category a 7 out of 10, because they could do a little bit better. I mean, come on, I really need that yahrzeit candle STAT.
Nonetheless, I was able to find a jicama (after asking my roommate what it was), as well as fire logs right at the front of the store. Right next to the condoms were fuzzy socks and leggings for whatever reason, because nothing says ‘Netflix and Chill’ like those two items paired together.
Andouille sausage was found right among the other pork selections, as well as fatback that was packaged and ready to go in the butcher’s market.
On one aisle, I even found press on minion press on nails, so Harris Teeter wins in my mind with that one. Along with other weird items such as that, I found foot polish, a sewing kit, and adult coloring books.
It doesn’t get much better than Pizza Mondays in my opinion. Or the roughly $200 dollars that goes towards the usually-attached Starbucks in several different locations. Seriously, Harris Teeter takes the cake in terms of in-store extras.
Most have a pizza buffet, that sells by-the-slice and whole pizzas. On Mondays, they offer a deal that will get you a large pizza (any flavor) for $7.99. Even Papa Johns can’t beat that. Other in-store bars include a salad bar with kale, romaine, and Caesar salad options to go along with plenty of toppings. Harris Teeter is known for its olive bar, as well as sushi that’s made fresh daily. My favorite happens to be North Hills’ Chinese buffet. WHATTT?! Yes, it’s true.
The Edward’s Mill location has a pharmacy in the store, which is obviously convenient for multiple reasons. Aside from that, most Harris Teeter’s have lottery machines, Redbox kiosks, Coin Star machines, and some form of an ATM.
All around 10/10 for in-store extras.
I’m giving Harris Teeter another 10 points for customer service. At 6 p.m. on a Sunday night, I saw a manager on his hands and knees rearranging the Cheez-It display. Not an employee, but a manager. Every time I ever ask the butchers for something, they are super friendly and efficient.
Even though I don’t use the cash registers often due to from self-checkout, the times that I have were pleasant experiences. All of the cashiers seem to be in great moods and always ask how you are doing without sounding overtly fake.
I dropped a glass bottle of grape juice one time, resulting in glass and juice everywhere. There was an employee there in roughly 10 seconds, already sweeping up glass and telling me that it was no big deal.
I’ve seen cashiers and baggers be more than willing to help take groceries to peoples’ cars, as well as take carts in for others due to the lack of a cart-return in several locations (i.e. parking situation sucks).
Overall, the only category that Harris Teeter truly loses major points for is convenience in terms of parking and the occasional food item not being stocked or the overpricing of certain other items. Aside from those issues, Harris Teeter ranks among one of the Triangle’s best supermarkets, and that’s truly said without any bias. As noted above, make sure to get a VIC card, or you’ll leave thinking that you just spent way too much on groceries. If you have any additional thoughts, be sure to let me know! I’d love to hear if you agree with my review.