Despite the prevalence of supermarkets, including those specializing in natural foods such as Whole Foods Market, many American communities still have old-style food stores that specialize in just one kind of item. Depending on the circumstances, many of these specialty stores provide better quality than do supermarkets, often, but not always, at higher prices.
Specialty full-service butcher shops have had difficulty competing with supermarkets. Traditional family butchers may close, but new ones almost never open. The exception is probably in certain ethnic areas, whose groups require special types of cuts of meat and poultry. Meat shops run by Asian and Spanish-speaking groups are good examples, as well as those catering to Moslems and Jews who have restrictive dietary laws. Shops that specialize in fish and seafood have a similar configuration.
Fruit and vegetable stores and stands are alive and well in cities and rural areas. Cheese shops give variety among international cheeses that is unmatched in general markets. Small bakeries and pastry shops tempt shoppers with fresh breads and cakes. Some candy stores are simply resellers, but others are artisanal confectioners who produce their own products on premises.
Particularly in urban areas, gourmet shops sell an ever-expanding array of hard-to-find domestic and imported luxury foods: dried Italian mushrooms, caviar, olives and olive oils, charcuterie, smoked fish, cheeses, prepared gourmet foods, imported canned goods; the list is endless.
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