babo (Ann Arbor, MI) – Return of the Neighborhood Grocery Store

(Last Updated On: December 28, 2011)

Recently I heard about a brand new grocery store opening up in downtown Ann Arbor. I finally got the chance to check it out today. The store is called babo: a market by sava. The goal of this market is to bring back the neighborhood grocery store. The kind of place you would head into a couple times after work to grab what you needed for that night’s meals, back before the giant supermarkets where the way of life for most people. babo is a unique food emporium. They have a variety of things going on in a small, aesthetic pleasing space. Here are some of the highlights I experienced during my visit:

1. Customer service can really put a store over the top. I encountered two employees during my visit. Both were very friendly and excited to show me some of the things in the store. I was offered a sample of some pork loin lunch meat that was a employee’s favorite. Having a passionate employee who is excited about the food they are selling is what I love to see when I am shopping for food. I want the people selling me the food to be as passionate about the food as I am.

2. They have some really unique set-ups for their products, such as using a library card catalog for their spices.

3. Instead of Coke and Pepsi products that you can find on every corner, they had Dr Brown’s, GUS soda, Fentimans, and one of my favorite, Sprechers, whose cola is 10 times better than anything the big two produce.

4. I am a big fan of varietal honeys and they had a couple that I haven’t had before, including a chestnut honey.

5. They had a deli counter with cheeses and meats, including cheddar from one of the top cheesemakers in the US, Widmer’s and some of the best bacon, Nueske’s.

6. They have a section of prepared hot foods you can purchase and consume at one of the tables right there, along with a coffee area.

7. The biggest drawback I saw from my perspective was the produce section. There was nothing really that interesting in it. Nothing out of the ordinary, just rather basic. I was at first disappointed with the store because I went to the produce first, but the rest of the shop was able to win me over. Being that it’s winter and local produce is not exactly at it’s peak right now, I can cut them some slack. I did like how they had a chalk board where you could write suggestions, showing that they are willing to listen to and respond to feedback.

I am interested to see how this place does in downtown Ann Arbor. I will definitely venture in again (probably with my sight on getting some of those cool varietal honeys!)