Yes the flagship eco-Sainsbury's on Greenwich Peninsular is no more. It doesn't seem that long ago that it was opening amid fanfares of eco-sustainabilty and awards for its design, but in fact it opened in 1999 with Jamie Oliver himself doing the honours. And we quite often spotted it on the TV, but it is no more as that Sainsbury's closed on 23 June.
The building's still there of course and there's a whole local debacle and debate on what should or shouldn't happen to that - to read one viewpoint see Should Sainsbury's Greenwich eco store be demolished?
Will Ikea move in? Or won't they? Will they demolish and rebuild the store? Or won't they? For what it's worth, I'm in two minds about having an Ikea on the peninsular. Yes it will save schlepping over to Croydon and the traffic of the Purley Way and Valley Park, but then again the traffic here is already bad enough (hello Blackwall Tunnel) and having an Ikea is likely to attract even more to the area, which already struggles to cope most days. So as I said I'm in two minds - and for those of you reading in Croydon, I'm fine with coming to Croydon - I used to live there remember...
But anyway this post isn't about that. It's about our new Sainsbury's store, which has the grand title of Charlton Riverside!
I'm not much of one for actually going to supermarkets it must be said. We used to go, but it was painful - for me, quite literally as MOH would ram me with the trolley at least twice on every shopping trip because "you just stopped!" Somehow the explanation for needing to stop to put things into the trolley never really held much sway. So supermarket trips were fraught affairs, both of us would much rather have been in the pub. Who wouldn't? So now I'm great friends with the Ocado man - and in fact, anyone else that will deliver my shopping for free.
So it was an odd feeling when I had the urge to check out the new Sainsbury's Charlton Riverside.
I was pleased to discover that I didn't need a pound for one of the trolleys, not being a regular supermarket user that always bugs me - and of course I never have a pound in my purse, and I don't have one of those clever keyring gadgets either. Well I do, it just doesn't have the fake pound in it...
There were plenty of trolleys and most had these nifty store guides attached too. I did wonder though how many people bought Beer, Biscuits (sweet), Bleach and Bread (and the rest) even if they didn't want too.
The store is much bigger than the one at Greenwich Peninsular - some 88,000 square foot apparently - and that means there's room for the homewares range, electricals and the Tu range as well as the food. I had a browse around and despite saying before (here: Room sets at the Ideal Home Show) that I wasn't a huge fan of copper I found myself being strangely drawn to this copper bakeware.
As a bread maker I was surprised and pleased to see these bannetons on the shelf - they're proving baskets for sourdough bread. I skipped the Tu section, but it looks quite large and colourful!
There was also a small gardening section and again I was feeling the pull of the copper; this time solar lights. I didn't buy them on my first visit and have since had to make a return visit to buy one or two (or more) copper and gun metal (black) lights. At £1 each I thought they were reasonably priced.
There's a cafe on the first floor overlooking the shop floor, ideal for gaining the strength to get around the shop or for depositing trolley-rammers so you can shop in safety. Having reached the food section and remembered that I had a list in my pocket, I was pleased to find there was a fresh fish counter. It's one shop that we don't really have in the area, although there was one in Blackheath Village but that has now shut, and even though I'm slightly fish-phobic I do like to buy whole fish every now and again.
From this trip I came away with four herrings for the barbecue after a nice chat with the fishmonger. I wasn't so pleased later though when I discovered the fish were fully intact and I needed to dissect them before throwing them on the barbecue, although they did taste good and were a good buy at under a pound a fish.
There's also a pizza bar, where you can have your own pizza made for you - or you can have one of the pre-made ones which probably more standard toppings. I'm still trying to work out if I could cook a pizza on the barbecue - I think it should be possible, but I haven't tried it yet - so undecided I left without a pizza and continued with the rest of my shopping.
Throughout the new store was clean - as you'd expect - it'd been open less than a week when I visited; the staff were friendly and helpful - I needed help getting two bottles of rosè off the top shelf! The store has a light airy feel to it and more importantly it feels spacious. Whether that's because it's not full of the usual promotions yet or whether it will stay like that, that's hard to tell. The only area that feels less spacious and therefore most likely to get jammed with trolleys is in the bakery section.
I was pleased to see an area for cardboard boxes, and for it to actually contain some boxes for people to reuse.
There were those self-service tills that I always find myself talking too (!) but I skipped them on both of my visits in favour of the more traditional checkouts. On neither of my visits did I need to queue and it almost felt like a pleasant experience - the cashiers were friendly and seemed to be enjoying their new store. On reflection this Sainsbury's felt more like the Carrefour experience in Calais and across France, and I don't think it was any worse for that.
Outside too I was pleased to see some bike racks, although I didn't spot them on my first visit as they are a little away from the shop's main entrance and located near the Bugsby's Way pedestrian entrance. There were plenty of them though.
There were also plenty of charging points for your electric car - a whole row of them, so many more than the two that the old store boasted. I don't know how much use they'll get, who knows but it's good to see them there.
So all in all I think this Sainsbury's is an improvement on the previous one - as I'm sure the previous one was an improvement at the time too. I'm not sure it's as convenient for as many people and it's not on anywhere near as many bus routes, but that's not new information. I'm not sure though that it's done enough to tempt me into becoming a regular visitor, with two visits in a week I think that must be me done for at least six months!
Do you love or loathe supermarkets?