Jungle Jim's Is Like A Grocery Store Inside Of A Theme Park

The first thing you might notice when you arrive at Jungle Jim's International Market in Ohio is the giant, faux animals like giraffes and elephants, frolicking in a fenced-in courtyard filled with greenery, a pool, and a waterfall. If this doesn't immediately catch your eye, it's probably because you're captivated by the monorail that appears to be emerging from the store's entrance. Indeed, as you approach Jungle Jim's, it's clear this is no ordinary grocery store.

The market has all the elements of a theme park, evident not only as you enter the parking lot, but also inside the store. You'll wander through roughly 200,000 square feet of space, with nearly every corner and aisle adorned with some form of animatronics or replicas related to a story, person, or place. Scheduled tours of the facility are available, and some people plan entire weekend trips to visit Jungle Jim's. If dedicating so much attention to a grocery store sounds absurd, note that this place isn't solely focused on shopping; it also hosts food and beverage-themed festivals, cooking classes, and entertainment venues available for booking.

Despite the entertainment, don't forget that Jungle Jim's is a place to shop for groceries, offering over 180,000 items throughout the expansive store.

It's a jungle out there

Like a theme park, many people visit Jungle Jim's from out of town just for the experience. While navigating the aisles, you're likely to encounter numerous visitors taking selfies with quirky attractions like a singing lion dressed as Elvis, a giant swinging Campbell's tomato soup can that sings, and an 822-pound block of cheese hanging from the ceiling.

While Jungle Jim's features typical grocery store departments, they could just as easily be dubbed "lands." For instance, the International Foods section is divided into vast aisles dedicated to specific continents, countries, and regions such as Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and India. Looking for hot sauce? You'll find over 1,500 varieties to choose from. Assembling a cheese board? Select from 1,400 domestic and international options. The store boasts extensive sections for honey, candy, specialty soda, and traditional grocery staples like deli, bakery, seafood, and produce departments, each overflowing with choices.

The mind behind Jungle Jim's

Jungle Jim's was founded by Jim O. Bonaminio from Lorain, Ohio. His foray into the grocery business started in 1971 with a roadside produce stand in an empty parking lot. After the lot was sold, he had to relocate, a process he repeated several times before deciding to purchase land for a permanent location. In 1975, he established Jungle Jim's International Market, initially a 4,200 square foot space that Bonaminio gradually expanded over the years. Today, there are two locations: the original in Fairfield, Ohio, and another in Cincinnati.

The over-the-top nature of Jungle Jim's extends beyond its sheer size to its eclectic decor, which seems to lack any particular theme. Visitors will encounter a suspended Robin Hood in the popular British foods section, and a huge replica of the S.S. Minnow, crewed by the Lucky Charms Leprechaun and Honey Nut Cheerios Bee, in the seafood department.

Jungle Jim's offers a true sensory experience, filled with surprises in every aisle. It's unlikely you'll find a more entertaining grocery shopping adventure anywhere else.