You know those people who tell the same story over and over again, to the point where you can recite some of their same lines? When it comes to grocery stores, I think I am that person. I always realize I have climbed up on my soapbox a little too high when I hear the line "I just can't stand checking out my produce in the same line as people buying underwear" come out of my mouth.
I know I'm not the only one with this devotion to the topic -- My friend MEP has similar concerns, as you can see here. The grocery store debate is a common conversation topic in my playgroup, one with clearly drawn lines of preference. I think I have mentioned my own attachment to my grocery store previously, and my need to live in proximity to it. In fact, that was one of my early dissatisfactions with my home when we moved here. The closest grocery store at that time was a 15 minute drive, which does not sound far until you are in the middle of a recipe that calls for a can of Rotel tomatoes and your pantry is out of them. You cannot rely on the JP's gas and food market for this kind of item. Beer and milk yes, produce and real food, no.
Anyway, I am a true devotee to Kroger. Maybe it is that I grew up shopping there, but any other grocery store does not truly feel like a grocery store to me. The store layout may vary slightly from store to store, but I generally know where to look for items in any Kroger store, and I am truly delighted by almost all of their store brand items. (their frozen waffles are a distinct exception, and I am currently working through two boxes of them due to a sellout of Eggos on a recent 10 for 10 deal. Yuck) I will admit, there are different levels of acceptability from Kroger store to Kroger store -- the one I had to shop in for a time after moving here does not have some of the more "gourmet items" I love, like Tikka Masala simmering sauce or the brand of roasted red peppers I favor. Their produce also was lacking, no broccolini in sight. However, I chose to shop there rather than the Meijer right across the street from it, despite Meijer's superior produce section. I get inside one of those super stores and glaze over -- am I supposed to be in grocery mode, or browsing for table linens? There are hamsters for sale here, for goodness sakes! One aisle over from the yogurt! It just doesn't seem right. Also, perhaps because of the size of the store, I find they only have perhaps three brand choices, rather than five or six, so often they don't have quite the kind of maple syrup I like. They way they package meat is off putting to me, and don't even get me started on the unwieldiness of their "toddler driven" car carts. Kroger's are much more maneuverable. So, preach to me all you want about the money I would save if I would shop there, I just can't do it.
And luckily, the grocery store that chose to build just a three minute drive from my home is my dear friend, K-Roger. It seriously changed my life to have it this close. And because it is a new store, it is chock full of the more trendy items, like pomegranate juice and soy yogurt and flatbread. Shopping there feels like home.
Yesterday, due to an unanticipated closure of the library on our normal storytime day. (I didn't think about Veteran's Day affecting the library), we found ourselves in the vicinity of Meijer, and I have to begrudgingly report on a couple of benefits of this store. First, they had winter squash in the frozen vegetable aisle, something I had searched for at Kroger the week before. It was also Meijer brand, so perhaps they have begun improving the selection of store brands here while I've been boycotting??? There was also a good selection of Thanksgiving paper plates and napkins, something surprisingly difficult to find. And O. does LOVE riding the horse at the end of checkout, for only a penny a ride.
However, I had gone into this store to buy bread and salad -- that's it. I left with an $83.00 bill, most of it non-food items, like amaryllis bulbs. And we had to browse every toy aisle before leaving. I was even tempted to buy some new underwear, but really -- NO.