I asked Sarah Krause, our Kansas City-based Gen X mom contributor at Fresh Talk, to query some of her mom friends and klatch about the topic of why they shop where they do. I thought I might be able to contribute something to the column myself by adding some hard data. Unfortunately, I was unable to wrest Kansas City retail market share numbers from IRI, and Metro Market Studies hasn't responded to my query.

Even so, I think you will enjoy these fresh insights from Sarah and friends on what factors drive their shopping behavior.

Produce—where we shop

By Sarah Krause

So, where do we Gen X Moms like to grocery shop? What entices us? Turns out, it’s not really much of a mystery. Ultimately, we shop for convenience – what’s closest to our homes or wherever we happen to be running errands. Often, this even trumps price. “If the store is easy to get to, then I go, even if it’s more expensive,” said one Mom shopper. However, produce tended to dictate a majority of our shopping habits. It seems that we will go out of our way to fill our fridges with fruits and veggies.

Of the five moms informally polled, most said they took the convenience route:

“I go mostly for ease, someplace I can get in and out quick,” said Julie, mom of three. Gen X Mom Courtney, who goes to the same grocery store (a neighborhood Hen House), agrees, even though the prices are higher there. Jeanne, mom of 2, who says she’s not a planner, also agreed. She claims she just goes into the store, sees what looks good and buys it. “I just kind of wing it!” she said. This is true for all of us Moms. If menus haven’t been prepared ahead of time, and dinner needs to be grabbed quickly after picking kids up from school, shuttling to after-school activities or getting off work, most Moms will hit the closest supermarket. We will all shop at the higher-priced stores (e.g. Whole Foods, Costentino’s, etc.) because they are convenient. Bonus if the produce section is stellar (hint: it usually is!).

For produce, mom of four Susan prefers Price Chopper “The one in Roeland Park has the best produce in the city, plus you can bag exactly how much your family needs.” Others agree – all Price Choppers seem to be a good all-around option for convenience, price and selection. Ditto for the Mission Hy-Vee, my personal favorite. They always have great ad specials, and everyone is so friendly and helpful, running to the back to check if they have prepackaged beets, pomegranates or chestnuts available (yes, I’ve asked for all these things).

 Courtney says that Hy-Vee always has good prices and good selection, so she tries to hit it up about every three weeks. (Lucky her, with one kid she can shop much more sparingly!) Karen wishes it were more convenient for her: “The Hy-Vee in Mission is my favorite grocery store, but it is a bit of a drive for me.” She’s a Brookside gal and frequents both the Price Chopper (“but not a lot of new and exciting produce items … same old, same old.") and the Meiner’s Market (“close by but expensive”).

Lots of us Gen X Moms seek out the organic fare and the perfect produce. For that, Whole Foods is tops. “The produce at Whole Foods is really gorgeous, even though the prices are pretty high,” says Chris, mom of two. She goes to Whole Foods when she needs stuff that’s organic, especially produce in the winter because, “I try to feed us fresh stuff besides just apples and bananas all the time.” It’s certainly not our neighborhood store but we go out of our way to visit Whole Foods because we know that we’re going to get high-quality goods and a great selection.

Mom Chris admits that she prefers to do her general grocery shopping at Walmart Neighborhood Market because she feels the prices are the best but thinks the produce isn’t wonderful. “Although the produce guy and I have become friends, and he’ll guide me in the direction of what’s fresh and a good deal. I try to maximize what I spend on things that will bring the most nutritional results.”

Most all the moms checked out the produce at Costco. It’s a popular place, of course, to stock up. This is especially true if your family loves to eat a certain food – like avocados or broccoli. “It’s cheaper … plus you can get five times as much!” says one mom.

But another mom said her family of 6 sometimes can’t get through all the produce at Costco quick enough (“unless it’s strawberries!”). Personally, I like the selection and quality that Costco has, and I can find things my family likes: organic raspberries or mini peppers. Recently, I scored impossible-to-find, fresh shelled peas (I bought 3 bags!).

What about shopping online? Is this an option the Gen X set would be interested in?

Karen, one of my friends, said she was interested in one of those produce delivery services, like Door-to-Door Organics.

It seems that not many of my mom friends, however, would choose to shop online, mainly because of the produce.

We want to check over our fruit and veggie purchases and make sure they are fresh. One mom was leery of the produce quality. “I’m afraid they’d send the damaged goods to me!” Another said that since she’s not a planner, online grocery shopping wouldn’t work for her, plus she wanted to see the produce. Another said she might consider it for the staples, but definitely not the produce.

So listen up produce managers! We moms are coming in to your stores and have our eyes on the produce prize. Besides, as mom Courtney said, “I actually like going to the grocery store; I like seeing what’s new, exciting and on special.”

You can reach Sarah at: sarah_a_krause@yahoo.com