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If the other seven locations-including our perfect Harlem location-were not enough, Fairway Market has opened yet another shopping experience on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. What was once a Circuit City and Barnes & Noble on East 86th Street between Second and Third avenues is now two floors of fresh produce, meats and more.
Last Wednesday, throngs of neighborhood residents lined the streets, clamoring to be the first at the register with their bounty. Samples of beverages and snacks were handed out while an airbrush artist painted Fairway T-shirts.
After the ribbon-cutting, customers got down to business. Unlike other locations, there will be no produce lining the sidewalk. Therefore, the first visual from the door is the produce section, appearing as if it everything was just picked from the farm and piled high. The ground floor also houses prepared foods, sandwiches, soups and a sushi bar plus the chain's famous olive assortment and great cheese selection.
Three large elevators with bright LED signs and central stairs take customers downstairs to grocery items, meat and seafood, coffee, dairy, frozen and organic and specialty items. There is no cold room at this location, so none of their signature jackets to be seen.
What seemed to be at least two attentive Fairway staff members at the end of every aisle still wasn't quite enough to help you through the labyrinth. Even the dispensed color-coded maps of the store were of no assistance. Thank goodness every wrong turn showcased a new product to contemplate and buy.
The organic and specialty sections are marked on the shelves and with decals on the floor for easy visual reference. Fairway is also meeting the needs of its gluten-free and kosher customers with varied assortment of grocery items from sweet to savory.
On that day, Fairway was what you want a grocery store to be every time you shop-abundantly exceeding your needs, uniformly displayed items and helpful and attentive staff. You need nothing more or nothing less.
You only have to see the happy faces and listen to the conversations to know that good grocery shopping is back on the East Side. As overheard in the produce section over Bing cherries, "[The opening] is the best thing that has happened to me, and I didn't know it until today!"