Penang has a new place to shop for groceries, SAM's Groceria, in the basement of the recently opened Gurney Paragon Mall. Another one is planned for KL Sentral. Even though all my friends had told me how wonderful this place is, I was still bowled over in amazement the first time I walked in. Everything is so clean, the aisles are wide, the choices are plentiful, and lots of staff was on hand to help.
This 30,000 square foot store pits itself against expat-fave Cold Storage and positions itself as the upscale, high-end option in town. At a glance, I'd say SAM's prices are comparable to or a teeny bit higher than Cold Storage. Even though over 60% of its 19,000 items are imported from the United States, Australia, Japan, India, Taiwan and Thailand, this retailer pays homage to its local roots since SAM is an abbreviation of "Saya Anak Malaysia" (I am a child of Malaysia).
|Fine chocolates, Fruits|
Enclosed freezer cases and Cheeses
The most exciting part of shopping at SAM's is the easy-to-use Self Scan system for shoppers with one of their free Family Cards. Just scan each item's barcode as you place it in your cart, and the unit tracks your purchases and displays a running total. There's a handy spot to store it on your trolley handle. My kids had a blast taking turns with it. When you're ready to check out, all you need to do is give the scanner unit to the cashier and pay. There's no need to re-scan everything. Self-scanning is optional, and customers are welcome to wait until the end for the cashier to scan everything for you.
SAM's Groceria has the largest selection of Organic products in Penang I've seen outside of a specialty organic store. It's also the first grocery store I've seen with a Diabetic foods section.
|This is just one side of the Organic aisle. More goods are opposite it.|
There's plenty of treats, too. One entire aisle is dedicated to Chocolate in addition to the display case of fancy, individual chocolates (RM16.00 per 100 gm). Imported foods are identified by country with Japan taking up the biggest share. Ummm...how proud am I that Americans can claim Pop-Tarts as their culinary contribution to the world? Actually, I was rather excited to see that SAM's carries Sahale Snacks which I dearly miss from the USA.
|Yay! Another store where I can deny my kids' request for Pop-Tarts|
SAM's offers one-stop shopping with non-food items, too. They also carry healthcare and grooming items, household goods, cleaning products, office supplies, automotive care, some hardware as well as baby care items. Many of the sections are clearly displayed. Although, I bet some people wish that it wasn't quite so evident what exactly they are buying at the moment.
|Adult Diapers: Confidence and peace of mind and a giant sign telling the world what you're buying.|
I didn't have a chance to browse through SAM's Deli located adjacent to the Groceria. Friends tell me that it has a good bakery as well as already prepared Western and local foods for you to take away.
I am definitely shopping at SAM's again. My daughter was even telling her dad that she needed to bring him there to show him the Self Scan system. It was such an easy shopping trip, and being able to see my running total bill kept me from going crazy with impulse purchases. This new store didn't have every single item on my grocery list. However, their customer service is happy to track requests to see how they can improve their selection. I'm so excited to have this addition to the Penang food scene.
IF YOU GO:
Basement level of Gurney Paragon Mall
Persiaran Gurney, Penang
Convenient parking Level B2 near section marked "Grocery Store" leads directly up to entrance
Operating Hours: 10AM to 10PM