Last week I flew to Kentucky on business and in between doing what I
was there to do, I was able to visit a “destination location” called
Jungle Jim’s. Jungle Jim’s International Market is actually located in
Fairfield, Ohio, just a few miles from downtown Cincinnati.
Jim’s is one of those places that can’t adequately be described without
seeing it in person. It is 300,000 square feet of “grocery store” with
annual sales of more than $90 million dollars that on a good week sees
about 50,000 people visit. It currently has 300 employees.
to say, there were not 50,000 people there when I visited—not anywhere
near that number but still a lot of people going from area of interest
to area of interest. After all, it’s winter in Ohio and not many people
on vacation at this time.
The first thing you notice is the 27
checkout isles arranged much like a Sam’s Club. Once past these the
store begins to open up and once you get your bearings, the real hike
begins. We began our journey in the wine and beer section after buying
a coffee at the Starbucks Café. Having been in some big stores—most
notably the corporate Whole Foods Store in Austin—I was still shocked
by the shear volume of goods packed into that space. They must have had
every wine from every region in the world and it was organized by
nation and area. Imagine the selection at your local supermarket and
multiple it by 20 times and you get the picture. Along the walls
leading up to the wine section was the beer “library” and you haven’t
lived until you check out some of the names of the craft brews that
adorned the walls. Probably every small brewery in the country was
represented. As advertised they have more than 800 International Beers
and Microbrews; more than 400 U.S. Microbrews from 66 Producers in
addition to many rare Monastery Brews. In a word: it was overwhelming.
you can only look for so long we then proceeded around the store
following a route that led us to more and more departments and more
foods and things than I had ever seen assembled in one place at one
time. From the cheese department we entered the vegetable market with
every conceivable domestic and foreign veggy available for sale. Then
came the fish and meat department where you could buy fresh fish from a
huge tank and get fresh cuts of any meat you might want from buffalo to
ostrich and everything in between.
We then entered the dry goods
area where everything was organized into national rows—isles and isles
of Hispanic, Asian, Greek, Jewish, English, Danish, and middle eastern
sections just to name a few that I remember. From there we walked to
the “hot sauce” alley where you could choose from any of over a
thousand different brands of good old burn your belly liquids. Of
course I had to buy a couple.
In a word or two: the store has
almost everything you would need to prepare a meal in almost any ethnic
tradition and then some. You want some Russian borscht, you need look
no further than Jungle Jim’s. To round everything out they even have a
pet supply section, a health food area, a post office and a pharmacy as
well. One stop shopping redefined and re-refined.
wasn’t all business this past week—there was the trip to Jungle Jim’s
International Supermarket in Fairfield, Ohio—a trip that I will
remember for a long time or at least as long as the hot sauce holds out.
your ride today even if you can’t choose between a hundred different
dry pastas or more olive oil brands than you can fit in a van.