Samantha Carr explores the ever-expanding world of supermarkets within St Andrews.

St Andrews is a small town and every difference has an impact on members of the community.

I’ll admit it’s taken a little over a week of being back here before the bubble regained full control of my brain. It happens to everyone, so don’t fight it. Let it wash over you. Don’t be afraid to discuss the latest scandals on the street: the new cafes, shops, places closing down.

Things have changed over the summer. We have two new key pieces in the middle of town: Sainburys local and COHO.

As a borderline bad-lands girl, you could have knocked me over with a feather the first time I powerwalked past COHO on Bell Street, making my way into town. Have you been there?! It’s so clean and organised. The place is a dream for a shopper looking to get in and out of somewhere in peace. This lovely shop looks and feels like a model convenience store. The rows (at the moment at least) are stocked tidily, everything aligned and priced without the eyesore of signs everywhere advertising not-quite-deals. It’s a small place, but this isn’t necessarily a negative point about the store. COHO is where you can calmly pick up a pint of milk, enjoy a brief listen to some fun background music and be served immediately at the till. You are paying a little more for the pleasure though. It’s not the cheapest in town, but if you want to enjoy your shopping experience, go to COHO.

Moving on to the next big deal around town, our new Sainsburys Local. Take that Tesco! Or not? I’ve spoken to a few people about this new kid on the block. There has been growing excitement for the new Sainsburys. Another supermarket located smack bang in the middle of town, ready to kick Tesco up the backside with a healthy dose of competition. Let’s be honest though, after all of the hype it didn’t quite end up being like that. To be fair though, it was never going to be the case given its surface area –  it is only small.

I like the shop. It’s the store you run to because you have to run for something: ready-to-eat meals, toilet roll, a newspaper, not to mention the fantastically wide selection of alcohol chilling in the fridge ready for immediate consumption. It’s an express service. Maybe you  will nip to it often, but rarely have a ‘big shop’ there. I am a fan of convenience, and let’s face it, it is just that little bit closer to the library…

Let us not forget about the two old favourites: Tesco and Morrisons.  I’ve thought about this for a while, and I love Tesco. I do. We’ve had our discrepancies over the years but we understand each other now. A shop as busy as Tesco is inevitably, some late weekday evenings, not always going to be fully stocked with bread or vegetables. It will, however, be open late, which is still a warm gesture on a winter night.

And do you know what? Tesco really is home. It’s my go-to. I have a fondness for the place. I know where everything is, from the milk to the juice cartons, the ice cream to the reduced price section. I just resent spending more money there than I would in a bigger Tesco at home. Such is life, I suppose. In all fairness, the shop has competitive opening hours, the location in town is perfect, and the biggest thing you have to worry about is bumping into somebody you’re avoiding (and that really could happen anywhere in town). So yes, credit to Tesco for location, staff friendliness and opening hours.

Take a trip to Morrisons though, it’s worthwhile. The prize is its size; there is more food, drink and home appliances under one roof there than a number of shop floors in the centre of town could hold altogether. You save pennies, too. More stuff equals more sales and a wider variety of products to choose from. Just avoid getting too carried away, I always buy far more in Morrisons than I originally intended to because I’m sucked in by all of the discounted goodies. Still, be aware of the distance. Any journey will be more of a struggle when you’re lugging six full plastic bags around with you, so I strongly advise you to consider transport.

And finally, I ask you please to try not to underestimate Aldi. I feel like this shop is largely overlooked. The middle aisles in the shop have great entertainment value too, because you simply never know what you will find in the bric-a-brac. I can guarantee you whatever you find will always be cheap and handy. This could be anything from a paella pan or a snazzy pair of socks to a hand blender. The centre of Aldi is fun so enjoy hunting for treasure. I can’t preach too much to you about the quality of all of the food because I’m no fool, but give daily necessities like fruit, veg, and dairy products a try. You’d be surprised at the price difference. It’s definitely a shop to buy pre-game booze for too, if you’re willing to try new things and are drinking for the purpose of going out. Aldi is cheap and loveable, and I believe it to be a hidden gem in this town. Give it a shot.

If you follow my advice you will have a busy few weeks of shopping ahead of you. So, in a nutshell, I recommend you: nip to Sainsburys, rely on Tesco, enjoy COHO, branch out occasionally to Morrisons and just give Aldi a whirl. You’ll probably walk past me in an aisle someday, hesitating about whether it’s cheaper for me to buy single or multi-pack peppers. Ah, Freshers-Week-Fun, it all just seems so far away now…

Photo credit Lyza Danger


Samantha Carr