6 Places to Shop with Kids a La Cart

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We’ve all gotten THAT look in the supermarket when our kids decide to have a meltdown next to the bananas. And who can blame them? Let’s face it, for most kids, grocery shopping is one small step above watching C-Span — while getting a cavity filled. Luckily, Stumptown’s rep as a kid-friendly city extends to its food stores. Here, our fave places to shop with wee ones a la cart:

For the whole family…

New Seasons Market, 12 locations throughout Portland and Vancouver, Wa

You don’t just get groceries at this local market. On various days (and nights,) you and your fam can also attend Movie and Game Night, learn to knit, play Scrabble, listen to live music, or, if you’re a new parent, attend a weekly support group. Our fave day to shop? Sunday, when staff members at New Seasons’ Arbor Lodge and Fisher’s Landing locations take turns reading aloud children’s books. (Check online calendars for times.)

Special thumbs up for: Living up to its reputation as “friendliest grocery store in town.” And we don’t just mean the employees. If you’re looking for another mom to engage in conversation, here’s where you’ll find one.

Online: newseasonsmarket.com

For the future host or hostess…

Zupan’s Market, 7221 SW Macadam, 3301 SE Belmont, 16380 Boones Ferry, 2340 W. Burnside

Walking into Zupan’s never fails to makes us feel like planning a party. It’s not just the rows of perfectly aligned celeriac, but the incredibly gracious staff who’ve been known to pop out of nowhere and give a kiddo a fresh-cut rose or offer a taste of a locally-made chocolate ganache tart. We parents fret about teaching our kids good manners, but somehow Zupan’s makes politeness seems really cool.

Special thumbs up for: “Sip and Shop.” Every Friday and Saturday, Zupan’s offers shoppers the opportunity to sample craft brews and wine. Bring along your partner and you just found a way to have Date Night, Family Night, AND stock your pantry at the same time.

Online:  zupans.com

For the health-conscious kiddo…

Alberta Co-op Grocery, 1500 NE Alberta Street

There are plenty of reasons to shop at this co-op – like their focus on local, organic products from socially responsible sources, and an impressive bulk foods section. But we also like what they don’t have: No grid-locked parking lot that wears down kids’ patience before you even get inside the store. No gunky candy or toys at checkout. And if you’ve got to buy an emergency box of crackers for your wee one, rest assured they’re going to be healthy ones.

Special thumbs up for: The benches out front, perfectly placed so kiddos can count bikes on Alberta or pet the dogs outside who are patiently waiting for their owners.

Online: albertagrocery.coop

For those in need of a last-minute treat…

Beaumont Market, 4130 NE Fremont Street

Granted, this old-school family market doesn’t have the cheapest prices in town or a super-wide selection. But if you’re in the area and need a few quick ingredients for dinner, it’s your place. We love the homey mom-and-pop atmosphere, and in the very back of the store is — wait for it: a self-serve frozen yogurt machine. (With toppings.) Operating those levers will charm even the most fussy, tired kid.

Special thumbs up for: Um, did we mention the fro-yo machine?

Online: beaumontmarket.com

For the detective-in-training…

Trader Joe’s, 8 locations in Portland and Vancouver, Wa

We dig the relaxed vibe of this franchise as much as we appreciate their reasonably priced, (mostly) health-conscious foods. Little sleuths are invited to hunt the shelves for the elusive Sasquatch stuffed animal cashiers hide every day, and those who spot it earn a small prize. (Having the cashier clang a bell and scream, “Sassy finder!” is optional.)

Special thumbs up for: The permanent offering of free coffee, plus a rotating menu of food samples (from enchiladas to red pepper hummus) which kids are willing to try because hey, you get to eat it out of a tiny little cup!

Online: traderjoes.com

For the grocery-phobic…

Fred Meyer, 3805 SE Hawthorne Boulevard.

Freddie’s has dozens of locations around Portland but their SE location is best at disguising itself from kids. First, enter through the doors on the rooftop parking lot, where a local band may be rocking out. Then let kids gawk at everything from mountain bikes to camping gear as you ride an escalator into the heart of the store. Circle around the Moonstruck chocolate kiosk and your cart will be half-full before your offspring realize they’re not just at a really cool, big place with lots of stuff.

Special thumbs up for: The sushi conveyor belt. Even kids who don’t like California rolls think it’s a blast to watch the plates trundle by.

Online: fredmeyer.com

Have we missed something? Tell us about your favorite kid-tastic grocery stores in the comments section!

–Stephanie Booth

Photos provided by New Seasons Market and the Facebook page of Sarasota’s Trader Joe’s