This is usually a Worcester-centric blog, but since some of my readers live outside the immediate area, and since some of us actually venture further afield than the Worcester suburbs, the following may be of interest.
About an hour or so northwest of Worcester lies the town of Greenfield. It’s a cute town & has loads of attractions that may entice you to stop & visit (I enjoy a trip to Federal Street Books when I’m in the area), but I’d like to focus on one destination in particular — The Barn, a discount grocer located at 95 River Street near routes I-91 and 2A.
Many of us have an interest in keeping our food budget in check — perhaps even more so in these difficult economic times. Worcester used to have a store that sold grocery items that were either approaching their sell-by date, or inventory for which the distributor may have been unable to find buyers. That store was Duffy’s, which in its last years was located in Cherry Valley, and which was closed in 2008 when its parent company, Millbrook Distributors, was acquired by United Natural Foods.
The Barn is what Duffy’s wanted to be when it grew up — had Duffy’s not been killed off prematurely by its evil new parent. The Barn is about three times the size of Duffy’s; it not only features the same sorts of canned & dry goods Duffy’s had, it also has refrigerated & frozen foods, as well as produce. Some of the inventory comes directly from the manufacturers who may have produced more than supermarkets were willing to buy; some items for sale are discontinued products or products whose labels/packages have been “updated”, so you’re merely buying yesterday’s design gimmicks; and other products may be approaching their sell-by date, which is usually not an indicator that they’re suddenly going to go bad (but one should use good judgment about how soon you’re likely to use/eat it). The Barn’s website describes the approaching sell-by products this way:
“How can we charge less than supermarkets?
We buy from the same grocery wholesalers that supply your favorite supermarkets — we just wait until the product has limited time left before the package expiration date. We need to sell it FAST, so we price it LOW — really low!”
A few days ago I posted some photos of some fun signs that are mounted all around the exterior of The Barn. This sort of kooky signage may remind Worcester-area folks of Building 19, though I think The Barn’s signage crew might be a bit funnier. There’s no Barn equivalent of Jerry Ellis all over the place . . . probably a good thing. The Barn gets you in a lighthearted mood before you even enter the store.
The Barn doesn’t really look like a barn, as you can see in the above photo. Not being from the Greenfield area, I don’t know what this building used to be, but I’d hazard a guess that it may have been a feed warehouse and/or farm supply store.
There’s a ramp when you enter which features a few of their specials:
At the top of the ramp you can grab a cart (if you hadn’t already gotten one outside), and then check out the produce.
The produce prices are good, but here in Worcester you can get the same fruit & vegetables for comparable prices at Price Rite, and with greater selection. Since Greenfield doesn’t have a Price Rite, I imagine folks nearby are glad to get their produce at these prices.
You can’t go wrong with the prices on the huge assortment of condiments — even after the sell-by date, these will keep a long time for you:
If you’re a snacker, the cookie & cracker selection will blow your mind:
They have a nice selection of ethnic food, conveniently categorized:
There are lots of bargain items to choose from in the frozen foods aisle:
We came away with several items from the aisle that features cleaning supplies, toiletries and other non-edibles:
The price & selection of spices was very nice; reminiscent of Worcester’s now-defunct Duffy’s:
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll find many food options:
With/without caffeine, herbal, etc. The prices here are pretty good; you can occasionally do better at Building 19 if you know your prices and visit often enough to catch the deals when they show up. But it looks like you can count on some decent prices regularly in this aisle at The Barn.
There are, of course, other bottled/canned beverages at The Barn:
If you like to bake things from scratch, you’ll find many of your ingredients at the barn at excellent prices:
Not pictured is a small selection of baked breads, rolls, etc. they had for sale — these were neither fresh enough nor cheap enough to warrant our attention on that particular day, though I imagine they get this stuff in batches and you might have better luck on another day.
At the rear of the store you can see how they’re able to quickly get stuff up onto the shelves for quick sale, They have these sorting bins that indicate what aisle the products need to go to, and they have several busy employees zipping around & stocking (you may notice a few of them in the above photos.)
Checkout is easy & quick. There are several registers, though on the weekday when these photos were taken, only one was open. The Barn accepts all of the major credit cards, debit cards and EBT, and also bags your groceries. You may recall that Worcester area Price Rite does not bag your groceries (and will charge you extra if you want to buy a bag), and that Aldi doesn’t accept credit cards. So by comparison, The Barn makes your shopping visit that much easier.
The Barn is definitely worth your time if you’re passing through the Greenfield area. We noticed vehicles in the parking lot with plates from Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut as well as Massachusetts, so evidently the word has gotten out about the deals to be had at The Barn (we first heard of The Barn via iBrattleboro). If you plan to buy frozen/refrigerated goods, save your trip to The Barn for when you’re on your way back to central Massachusetts so that you can get your purchases into the refrigerator or freezer in a timely fashion.
I only wish The Barn had an outlet closer by! My family would be there at least once a week if they were. Since Worcester & its environs have several vacant grocery store buildings languishing tenantless, the landlords really ought to court the folks at The Barn and see if they’ll come & set up shop here. As home of the “Spag’s Mentality”, there is certainly a huge prospective customer base eagerly waiting for such a discount store. It could be a win-win-win . . . more shoppers for The Barn, a paying tenant for a vacant building, and great prices for central Mass. shoppers.