Pretend grocery store is a great alternative to a kitchen playset. Not every kid likes to cook, but most would like a trip to the store. Furthermore, a grocery store could be more attractive to boys too and hence, they may be less hesitant to join in to play. But unfortunately, there are not that many of such playsets in the market unlike pretend play kitchens. On top of that, some are really small and flimsy that they may not be worth the money. What we have featured are perhaps the best of the lot.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Grocery Store / Lemonade Stand
What is wonderful about this Melissa & Doug Deluxe Grocery Playset is its well-thought out convertibility feature. That means you can flip over the awning to change the theme from a grocery to a lemonade stand and vice-versa. This way, your kid will have an additional play option. They can run a store or sell lemonade.
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The structure is wooden with countertop space for a cash register and other related items. There are 9 plastic bins included to display items for sale. Small chalkboards are also part of the package to label each bin and their prices. Side shelves allow for even more display space.
Countertop height is about 2 feet. The whole structure up to the canopy is slightly more than 4 feet high. The width is more than 2.5 feet (approximately 32 inches) and the depth is about 17 inches.
Why This Is Worth A Buy
The whole stand is sturdy and well-made. The reversible awning is a plus which you can’t get with other grocery store playsets. The most fun feature is most probably the reusable chalkboards. Your kid could write prices on them to make the whole stand looks exactly like a real grocery store. So, the fun and learning aspect are definitely part of the deal.
But improvements could also be made. The plastic bins are a bit thin and the whole package lacks a cash register and toy money to make play even more interesting. The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Grocery Store / Lemonade Stand does not come with any play food. You would have to buy those separately. Assembly would take about 2 hours which is a pain to some.
But overall, we feel that this play grocery store is worth the money. It gives ample opportunities for your kid to learn apart from just the entertainment value. The labeling of merchandise is already an extra learning opportunity which is not always available in other play grocery store sets.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Grocery Store vs KidKraft Grocery Marketplace
The KidKraft Grocery Marketplace is pretty similar to the Melissa & Doug playset. The width for the KidKraft model is a tad smaller at about 2 feet but the height and depth is almost the same at about 48 inches and 16 inches respectively.
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If you want value for money, then the Grocery Marketplace is the one to get. This is because it comes with a cash register that opens and closes at a price that is slightly lower than the Melissa & Doug Grocery Store / Lemonade Stand at the time of this review. For the Melissa & Doug playset, you also would have to buy your own cash register to complement the toy grocery store. You do have chalkboard surfaces for the KidKraft model although limited to only 6 instead of 9 for the Deluxe.
However, if money is not an issue, we still prefer the Grocery-cum-Lemonade Stand. This is because the theme is inter-changeable that play could be spiced up a little more. On top of that, online reviews have a common complaint regarding the assembly process for the KidKraft grocery play pretend set. It is difficult and confusing for many with pre-drilled holes that do not fit. The instructions are also unclear. This is a put-off that tilts us in favor of the Melissa & Doug model.
Step2 Fresh Market Kitchen
If you prefer plastic playsets, then the Step2 Fresh Market Kitchen would be a nice one to get. It is expensive but your kid will get a play kitchen to complement the grocery stand. It is really an all-in-one type of playset because there are a few different areas that your kid can have fun with. So, they can easily can switch roles when playing pretend with this toy.
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The marketplace has 4 compartments with another 2 corner shelves in which to display items for sale. There is also a toy cash register with scanner that has light and sound effects. Similarly, some of the kitchen appliances will emit electronic sounds for more interesting play like sizzling and boiling sounds from the burner. The range hood also has light built-in. Other appliances in the play kitchen are a fridge, microwave and oven. A small dining area is molded in too.
47 pieces of accessories are included with the Fresh Market Kitchen. These include play food, utensils, pot, pan, credit card and salt and pepper shakers. The counter height is about 19 inches for this playset.
Shoul You Buy The Step2 Fresh Market Kitchen
Because this is a very pricey playset, buyers will tend to expect more out of it. At the time of writing, this retails for about $280. At this price, you can expect it to be a sturdy and well-made set. Like those Step2 water tables and playhouses, it is made of durable plastic that will be able to withstand years of play. The play cash register with scanner is a nice add-on and so are the other accessories. At least, the toy is ready for play without you having to buy the accessories separately.
The whole design concept encourages kids to switch roles as they can be a seller, chef, guest and shopper. But this advantage is also a drawback. This is because they are tyring to squeeze in too many features into one playset resulting in very small spaces for some items. For instance, the sink is a little too tiny while the interior for the appliances are too small to be practical for storage purposes.
However, from a kid’s perspective, the Fresh Market Kitchen is fun and interesting. It packs more than the usual in one single playset and for kids, more is always better than less.