There is a New Grocery Store in Town

There is a New Grocery Store in Town

We were at a friend’s house for dinner last night, and while we were eating some very delicious local fish, freshly caught earlier in the day by our hosts, the subject of our new grocery store came up. We have a brand new store – built to accommodate the needs of our growing community.  It is bigger than the store, of the same franchise, that already existed in our town – they just thought it was time for bigger and better. So, a new one was built – a short distance down the road. The “old” one has closed.

Well, it is bigger. I am still deciding whether it is better or not. This sprang to my mind late Thursday afternoon when I told my 18 year old I was going grocery shopping. He made some comment about staying in town (to go to the new store) and I told him that I was actually thinking of driving to the next town over, to the store I have been shopping at more regularly over the last few years.  The store in the next town is of the same franchise or family, so it is just the “branch” of the grocery store that I am choosing to shop at, not another family of stores, altogether. He thought I was nuts, for driving ten miles when I could drive 2.5 and be at the store.  To fully disclose what I did, I ended up going to the new store, only a couple of miles away.  It was my 3rd or 4th shopping trip there.

But, here are some of my observations and why I still might return to driving the ten miles into the store in the next town. 1) Our store is brand new. I find it dark. I like light, natural light, if available. 2) The isles are confusing. We like white rice, but white rice is not located with the other rice…..I have had to search for the rice each time I have been at the store. I do not understand the logic behind these products not being all together. 3) The eggs are in the very back corner. Okay, I know the economic, or marketing, or business reasons for putting things at the back of the store, but this location of the eggs seems to cause some bottlenecks. 4) I have been unable to find certain brands and versions of products that I regularly bought at the old store. No Red Rose Tea. No gourmet onion rings by Ore Ida.  No more nice sub rolls found near the deli.  My new favorite white wine is missing, too!  And, to top it all off – after a month of shopping there, I still cannot seem to find my way around well enough to get all the products on my list in one very logical and organized loop around the store.

I like this grocery store chain. The stores are clean, the employees are nice, they hire a lot of local youth, and they aim to please. They want you as their customer.  Their “sister” store in the next town has these same qualities. I guess my problem is that I was really looking forward to this new store and unfortunately, I feel somewhat disappointed by it when I visit.  I thought they were going to have a “dining deck” around the top level of the store, much like my beloved Wegmans Food Markets in Western New York.  There is no dining deck, just a couple of booths back by the deli.  Oh, how I miss Wegmans!  I guess you can take the girl out Wegmans, but not the Wegmans out of the girl!  This local chain visited Wegmans a couple of years ago, as the desire to expand had been brewing for a while, as more of these local grocery store chains were being built all over Wisconsin.  But, even this brand new store, freshly built and open less than a month, bears no resemblance to Wegmans.

I am not trying to bash a new store. I am sure the employees are still trying to figure things out, too. And, I do not need someone to repost, share, or run to the store with my blog, as some community member did with a post I wrote about a concern I had with our schools last month. Thank you, but no. That would be totally unnecessary as it was previously.  This family of grocery stores really does aim to please, so I plan take my short list of what I would like and cannot find to the store manager in the near future. I am sure it will be received well. They want our patronage. I want to support our local store. I am just not totally there yet.  As the saying goes, change is hard.

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Who are the People in your Neighborhood?

Who are the People in your Neighborhood?

Being in a different community (county)  for a week got me thinking about the old Sesame Street Song, The People in Your Neighborhood. 

Everyone you meet on Bermuda is so nice.  I am not sugar-coating our visit or trying to be sappy; it is just a true statement! From the hostess who sat us at breakfast to the bus driver who stopped to pick us back up after we got off at the wrong stop without us having to flag him down, the native Bermudians seem to relish their chance to show visitors a gentile, hospitable, and welcoming island.

Our ferry captain was especially nice on the morning we took the hotel boat to Hamilton to go to St. George. His crew did not show up, but he did not appear angry, hostile, or even irritated. He just took it in stride and drove the ferry over to Hamilton as if the crew were all with us. Yes, we heard some couched sarcasm when some one asked who was driving the as he talked with us, but his retort actually complimented the person who questioned him!

Each, and every day, smiles and friendly, somewhat formal greetings met us while at the hotel or out in their community.  Bermudians were anxious to satisfy our needs. They were willing to go out on a limb to induce comfort, allay hunger, and provide necessities like towels – even at ten o’clock at night.  No one, and I do mean not anyone, appeared to be angry they were working during a national holiday weekend (according to one source Bermuda has a zero unemployment rate), that the visitors to the island increased their population by ten-fold (from 60,000 to  600,000 each year), or that you did not really seem to understand the bus token-transfer system (it does cause confusion for some).

All this politeness and consideration made me wish for a little more of this type of behavior at home! Do not get me wrong, we love the mid-west where most of the niceties of daily life are still in place. But, as our population density is increasing, I am finding more people so unhappy in their daily grind that it spills over onto the people they are in contact with – other community members, or visitors. We need to work harder, as the Bermudians do, to not allow this to happen.

My son and one of his former college roommates headed to our cabin this weekend.  At dinner last night, the roommate asked, “Do you know everyone here?” clarifying that he met our community.  I began my reply seriously, stating how our town’s population has increased three-fold since we moved here eighteen years ago.  And then, I added, “no, and I do not want to know everyone, any longer.”  The people in our neighborhood are changing, my role in the community is changing, and although I do not have the desire to know ALL the people in our neighborhood (community), I do think we would all do each other a favor if we took more of a Bermudian outlook on life and greeted everyone with a smile and friendly greeting.  You see, it takes very little effort for the Bermudians to do this, and yet the effects and dividends are very real. You feel welcome. You feel wanted. You feel like you are part of the neighborhood.  Is that not something we all want? We want to belong.

So, I will try to learn the lesson showed to me while visiting Bermuda. In fact, I started this week, smiling and chatting during our high school registration process. I talked to people I knew and to people who were new to me. The Bermudians know the people in their neighborhood, whether native or visitor.  If you are a visitor, they make an effort to get to know you and beyond that show you a friendly, welcoming face. You are in their neighborhood, and they want to make your stay as nice as possible. Thank you Bermuda for this reminder. Thank you Sesame Street for sharing a catchy song that has stuck with me for half a century!

“Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood,

in your neighborhood,

in your neighborhood?

Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood,

the people that you meet each day?

……………………….

 Jeffery Moss, 1969 © Festival Attractions, Inc.

© The Children’s Television Network, Inc. 1971