Local supermarkets query: Paper, plastic or Pesach

So remarkable was the novelty that Corte Madera resident Rose Stein asked for an extra.

"I can't wait for my sister to see this," said the graphic designer, who will be hosting family from New Jersey at her first-night seder. Stein said she appreciated the extra effort, adding that at many supermarkets, workers don't seem to know the difference between kosher, kosher for Passover and "just plain Jewish."

"This is so sweet," she said, calling the Passover bags a breath of fresh air from the onslaught of Christmas-tree bags in December. "This is really cute."

The Mill Valley-based chain, which has stores in Palo Alto, San Bruno, San Francisco, Sausalito and Greenbrae, has been distributing the bags for "many years now," according to public relations chief David Bennett.

The bag lists items for the seder table and the seder plate on one side, and a roundup of its Passover selections on the other. A bold line of print asks: "Why is this supermarket different from all other supermarkets?"

Bennett said the market began by bagging Passover items separately. He said he could not recall exactly when the store began printing the cheery Pesach bags. Given the impracticality of small printing runs, the printer runs a batch only "every so often." Mollie Stone's then distributes "a few to each store."

But the tradition is decidedly low key, he added. "It's something we've been doing quietly for many years," Bennett said. "We do it to recognize the needs of our Jewish customers. It's very important to them."

It's also "a way we have of quietly competing" with the competition.

In the days and weeks leading up to Passover, checkers who saw customers buying Passover items would ask customers if they would like the special bag.

"Mollie Stone's checkers know how to handle kosher for Passover foods," a statement from the chain's public relations departments says. "They put them in this bag so your Passover foods stay separate from other grocery items until you want to use them."

The store has also been beefing up its Passover offerings.

The Palo Alto store maintains a kosher butcher, under the supervision of the Beth Din (rabbinic court) of San Jose and the South Bay.

Attention, shoppers: Ten cuts of glatt kosher beef, poultry and fish can be ordered from any of Mollie Stone's stores. "Try to find that anywhere else," bragged Bennett.

"And pike and whitefish so you can make gefilte fish like Mama did."