Thursday, September 3, 2009

Alexa Produce

Recently, a friend of mine raved to me about a new "Farmer's Market" that had opened in Fort Lauderdale on Oakland Park Boulevard. This is near my house so I was pretty excited. She explained that they had several organic selections and that the prices were excellent. I drove by the place almost everyday and for the past week a man had been pacing around out front of the "market" which is located in a small plaza close to the store where the strippers from nearby Solid Gold go to buy their clear heels. Really. I'm not joking about this. Anyway, the man had been pacing around out there holding a sign advertising $1 Organic Berries. I admit to skepticism. Organic berries anywhere else are four times that and more. The other day, on my friend's recommendation, and not feeling particularly enthusiastic about this place, I stopped.

Now let me explain. I wasn't being a snob. It wasn't the clear heel store or the fact that Oakland Park between 95 and Dixie isn't exactly the most picturesque location in Fort Lauderdale. If I can get a deal on something good and if they carried local produce at reasonable prices, I don't care if I have to go to the worst area in town to get it. Oakland Park, by the way, is definitely not the worst area in town anyway, it's just ugly. My apprehension stemmed from the common practice around here, which I've complained about before, of places calling themselves "Farmer's Markets" because it sounds good and then not carrying produce from farms around here. These places have the exact same stuff as Publix for the most part and there's nothing about them that's like a real farmer's market. I had a feeling Alexa would be similar.

I was right. Of course I was right. Alexa didn't impress me. First impressions are important and my first impression when I walked in the door was that the place swarmed with gnats and smelled like I'd stepped into a bottle of vinegar. The smell seemed to be coming from rotten fruits and vegetables and was worsened by poor ventilation. On a positive note, their prices were low and they had a large selection. Unfortunately, the only local offering was a box of "Florida" avocados. They called them that. They did not specify the variety, but the things were as big and hard as bowling pins.

I don't want to dis someone's business, especially not a new business. I know things can be rough in the beginning, but I just didn't get the sense that Alexa Produce was trying to be a real farmer's market. To me, the place felt thrown together hastily to profit from the current, resurging popularity of farm stands. There are a lot of places like this popping up all over and they're great in terms of low prices and variety. I also like to see small businesses competing with gigantic corporations. I am a fan of small businesses. But places like this are terrible for people, like me, who want to promote things grown in Florida and who want to buy their goods in season from farmers in the community where I live. I'd absolutely be willing to make a special trip to a place like that, and in fact, I have driven over an hour to the markets in Homestead. I'm not at all willing to make a special trip to a separate store to buy the same exact goods I could get at Publix.

Sorry Alexa, but that's the most positive thing I can say right now. In the interest of fairness, I'll try back in a month and see if things have improved.

Alexa Produce, 79 E Oakland Park Blvd, Fort Lauderdale.

11 comments:

  1. Have you tried the little actual farmers market just off of Atlantic and Dixie? I think it is open from October through spring sometime. On Saturdays. There is an Indian woman that has great produce and some unusual stuff that she grows herself.

    JG

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  2. Ah yes, welcome to South Florida. I have such a pet peeve over the whole "farmer's" market issue, especially after having been in Seattle, where it truly is a farmer's market.

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  3. i have been here 3 times and have nothing to say but good things about the food I have purchased. As far as smells, get over it. If your nose is that sensitive maybe you should buy canned foods which won't omit any odor.

    Happy customer

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  4. You should definately check out Alexa Produce again. They did a complete turn around. The store and quality of the produce is as fresh as it can be. The store is very clean. The produce is great. The prices are unbelievable! I would recommend everyone to go shopping here.

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  5. Alexa has good prices, but most of the produce seems to be near the turning point .. a few days or minutes from going bed. This store seems to be the last stop before adding rotted fruits and vegetables to the compost heap. Worth a stop: there are always at least a few types of fruits or vegetables in good shape and value prices. The young woman at the counter is friendly and helpful. She advised me to put perishables such as mushrooms into paper bags when I got home, said paper wrapping will extend the life.

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  6. I've been there several times, not looking for something in particular like you would in the supermarket but for what's available at the time, people who know how to buy veggies get the best deals. I just bought like 8 red peppers for a ridiculous low price (less than 50 cents each !!)firm and ready to eat when in the supermarket they usually run for about $3.99 a pound same size. Places like this encourage me to eat more fresh veggies and in fact I am now. I find fresh veggies in the supermarket extremely over priced and they are totally flavorless due to refrigeration... so if place smells like rotten fruits, so be it. at least you know for sure that they were fruits and not something else.

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  7. Give the place a break. In these hard times, people need an alternative to the chain markets. I have been there several times. I bought good a ready to eat pineapple and red pepper for half the price of the supermarket. Do not mention the tomatoes you can get some good deals. Like anywhere, you have to shop wisely. Please stay away, so there will be better pickings for those of us who appreciate good food at fair prices. Recently it has been getting a little too crowded.

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  8. Was there yesterday
    They had broccoli and green beans that were cheap but fading fast. No problem because I am an excellent judge of this problem

    Lots of large seeded watermelons @$4. Have not cut into mine. It is end of season and a crap shoot.

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  9. Good news! They opened another Alexa Produe in Lighthouse Point on Federal Highway north of Sample. I personally haven't been there yet, but a good friend of mine went there a few weekends ago and she was really impressed with the place. She took pictures and from the pictures, the place is bigger than the one on Oakland Park Blvd, which I have been to. I was satisfied with their products and prices. With any place that sells fruits & vegetables (grocery stores included) you have to make sure the produce your are selecting is fresh. I've been to a name brand supermarket and their produce looked horrible. I will definitely be shopping at Alexa again.

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  10. My partner and I go to Alexa almost every other day. They have the best deals and nothing we have gotten has ever been rotten but this could be because we know how to pick fruits and vegetables when we are buying them. They have broccoli rabe, bok choy, sometimes patty pan squash, hericot verts ($1 for a nice size bag), Asian pears. I make homemade salsa and it's so much cheaper to buy all the ingredients here than at publix. I LOVE Alexa produce.... BIG fan!!

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  11. Glad so many people think it is bad, which leaves more fresh food for me!

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