Sam’s Market Has Way More Than You Think

Article originally published on Spoon University.
The place for Berkeley students’ after school snacks or emergency grocery runs | September 30, 2014 | Photo by Julia Liang

I have never liked Telegraph Ave. Though it’s my third year, I am still not fond of it because it’s dirty and crowded, and some of the storefronts look a bit dingy. This was also once my impression of the shady, concave entrance of Sam’s Market. With Walgreens‘s inviting sliding doors and familiar fluorescent lights just next door, I didn’t bothered to step into Sam’s until recently.

By the look of its storefront, Sam’s Market doesn’t seem to have much to offer. The doors are inset, away from the street, and there always seem to be repairs going on with the metal plates on the sidewalk just outside.

Not long ago, though, desperate times called for desperate measures– I had plans to make lemon ricotta pancakes for breakfast the next morning and didn’t have the extra two hours needed to make it to Berkeley Bowl to buy the most important ingredients: lemon and ricotta cheese. After an unsurprisingly unsuccessful search at Walgreens, I wandered into Sam’s with what I felt was false hope.

I was pleasantly surprised. Although the interior is just as dimly-lit as its exterior, Sam’s five narrow aisles shelve much more than false hope– because next to the basket of apples on the back wall and just beside the balls of fresh mozzarella was so much promise.

Photo by Julia Liang

From alcohol (kept in a specifically 21-and-over section) to cheese, to spices and pasta and finally to fruits and vegetables, Sam’s Market has it all. Hidden among the abundance are also kitchen tools and baking supplies, often on sale in lower-priced bundles. The prices on average are definitely comparable to Walgreens, though a bit pricier than those of Safeway or Berkeley Bowl.

Photo by Julia Liang

For the car-less foodies who enjoy making fun, spontaneous weekday meals, Sam’s will meet your needs with its red pepper flakes and three-cheese semolina bread far better than Walgreens will. And the biggest plus? At Sam’s, there is never the long line of students running errands every hour after class. The waits to check out are short and efficient– a blessing for the tired college student who wants nothing more than to get home just a few minutes earlier.

Of course, Sam’s will never beat the fresh produce at Berkeley Bowl or the massive selection of goods offered at Safeway, but if you’re a student in a pinch and doubt Walgreens carries the solution you need, stop by Sam’s. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Location: 2312 Telegraph Avenue; Berkeley, CA 94720
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri: 7 am – 10 pm; Sat-Sun: 9 am – 10 pm