Being the first of several reviews of grocery stores in the Kingston, New York area.

Adams Fairacre Farms is a three-store chain in the Hudson Valley of New York.  It’s really more of a “Super Farm Market,” as they advertise themselves, than a grocery store.

The good

When you walk into Adams, you walk into the store’s best department:  the fruits and vegetables.  Adams works with local farms to stock as much local produce as possible.  In general, they have higher-quality produce than any of the chain stores at any given time of year, even if it isn’t local.  If you care about quality veg, one trip to Adams will convince you to make it a regular weekly stop.

Adams’ meat department is no comparison to the local competition; it rivals any dedicated butcher shop for variety and quality.  They stock both quality “store brand” meat—typically better than the premium national brands found at other stores—and high-end brands like Bell and Evans.  They typically stock a selection of USDA Prime beef, as well as local beef.  The meat department is well-staffed, and they will gladly handle special requests.  There’s also a full-service seafood department.

The delicatessen carries Boar’s Head products as their value line. Again, the quality, the selection, and the service beat the chain stores hands down.  They will make sandwiches to order.  There’s a selection of hot and cold foods.

There’s a cheese department with a wide range of gourmet cheeses.  A very good salad bar.  An on-site bakery.

The rest of Adams’ “grocery store” is relatively small, but they carry most items that a serious chef would need, if not with so much variety as a large chain store.  Typically, what they do carry are premium, local, or otherwise hard-to-find brands.  If you’re making a recipe that calls for an unusual ingredient, Adams should be your first stop.

Kitchen Store

The Kingston Adams has a small kitchen-goods store.  It’s a mixed bag; they carry some decent items, a fair amount of overpriced items (like CIA cookware), and a good dose of high-hype, low-quality items (Food Network branded stuff).  It’s neither as cheap as Bed Bath and Beyond, nor does it cater to the serious cook like local favorite Warren Cutlery.

Garden Center

The other half of Adams is the garden center.  The greenhouse and nursery stock a wide range of plants, all healthier than what you’ll find at the big-box home centers. They carry a range of other garden products, again emphasizing the premium lines such as Droll Yankees bird feeders and the upper end of the Weber grill range.


Adams really shines at the checkout.  Although there are fewer lanes than the big stores, they’re well staffed, and the clerks know what they’re doing. It’s rare for lines to get more than two deep, and there’s usually little delay from checking out.  Like much of the store, the checkout is cramped, so bagging can be a challenge.  Many lines offer bagging staff, but you’re welcome to bag your own, and it may speed things up even more.  Adams offers a 5¢ discount for each reusable bag you use.

Unlike the chain stores, Adams doesn’t offer automated self-checkout.  You won’t miss it.

The Bad

Adams day-to-day prices are generally higher for identical items than any other local store.  Many of their products simply aren’t available at other local stores because they are premium or ultra-premium brands, and those products are usually considerably more expensive than what you’ll find at Hannaford or ShopRite.

While Adams has excellent vegetables, the small size of the chain means that they sometimes don’t have all the vegetables you might need for your menu.

The hot foods available range from good to merely edible.  This has gotten better over time, but it’s still a very hit-or-miss proposition.  The cold prepared foods are likewise highly variable.

Adams has a longstanding habit of not complying with the Ulster County retail pricing law.  It’s not unusual to find products that have no marked price, and no price on the shelf.  This is especially true in the frozen-foods and dairy areas.

The store gets very busy on weekends, when it draws a lot of traffic from New York City weekenders.  Unfortunately, that crowd has a… different standard of grocery-store etiquette.  This can make it frustrating to navigate the store and the parking lot.  The store’s parking lot becomes overcrowded at certain times on the weekends, around holidays, and most especially when the store runs special events like their annual garden show.

There is no dedicated bottle-return area.


Here’s what I’d like to see Adams change:

  • Try to negotiate more competitive prices on some commodity items, like soda.  Work with vendors to ensure those items are consistently stocked.
  • Improve the signage in the parking lot, to ease the traffic flow issues at peak times.
  • Build a more consistent quality in the hot foods, perhaps preparing less at one time so it doesn’t dry out in the steam case.  (Go tour the Wegmans store in Pittsford, N.Y.; that’s how you do it.)
  • Consider installing WiFi in the store.  Adams appeals to affluent buyers—the type that have iPhones and iPads and such, and WiFi appeals to them.
  • Tell the folks at the deli counter that some people are hard of hearing, and they should push the button to advance the “take a ticket” number before they call it out.

Having lived in Rochester, I can’t help but judge every grocery store against Wegmans.  Wegmans isn’t perfect, but they’re better than everyone else.  In many ways, Adams comes close, albeit on a smaller scale.  That’s especially true in the vegetable department; not surprising, since both companies started as farm stands.  For me, saying a store is “like a small Wegmans” is high praise indeed.


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