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NYC Day Trip: Stew Leonards

January 20, 2010

7 Incredibly Rich Dairy Farmers.

Stew Leonards is a grocery store. They have 3 locations in Connecticut and 1 New York (just off I-87 in Yonkers), and yes, I am writing about it here, urging you to go to a grocery store. Because if Ikea, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and Whole Foods got together for a night of somethin’ somethin’, Stew Leonards would be their spawn.

The store started in the 1920s as Clover Farms Dairy, a state of the art pasteurizing plant that delivered its product in trucks with plastic cows on the front that “Moo’d” for the children.

Stew Leonard’s passion for kitsch transcended the demise of the dairy industry, and in 1969, the Stew Leonard’s grocery store (not the man) opened its doors as a 17,000 square foot mammoth that carried just 7 items. Now, They carry 2,000 items (chosen for quality, freshness and value) as opposed to a normal grocery store’s stock of 30,000 (chosen for ease of transportation, extreme levels of high fructose corn syrup and the ability to buy in bulk), but seriously, I could have stayed in Stew Leonard’s for five hours. The words “This is the biggest grocery store I’ve ever been in” actually came out of my mouth.

Its like a maze. The store has one way in and one way out (as if you wanted aisles anyway- because each section has been fashioned to look like a different country. Whose citizens consist solely of food. The produce section? Real, live orange tree. The meat section? Cows hanging from the ceiling and $70 slabs of meat stacked on top of each other. The dairy section? Well, the New York Times dubbed it the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores.” Rumor has it that some locations even have live chickens.

Stew Leonard’s is a private, family-owned chain with 4 locations. I dare you to guess how much money they make. I dare you.

$300 MILLION IN ANNUAL SALES!!! In 1992, Stew Leonard’s earned an entry into The Guinness Book of World Records for having “the greatest sales per unit area of any single food store in the United States.” Which, for you, means it’s really eff-ing fun.

Never, in my wildest dreams, have I considered a grocery store worth a day trip. But for this one, anything. I mean, just look at this giant lobster. For him, anything.

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