As a student, newly arrived in Albany, my grocery shopping was limited to whatever I could carry. I didn’t have a car, nor did I really buy anything that I couldn’t eat with a spoon which meant my shopping list typically revolved around cereal, yogurt and ice cream – all of which could be had from the nearby Price Chopper.
Time passed and eventually there was a car in my driveway in the street in front of my home and my horizons expanded. There was the new Hannaford up on Central Avenue, followed by the renovated uptown Price Chopper and finally the husband who did the grocery shopping which effectively ended my explorations of the local grocery store scene. Until the divorce, of course.
Since then, I’ve hunted and gathered primarily at suburban grocery stores, usually Price Chopper with the occasional foray to Shop Rite. Generally, the Slingerlands PC location has been my choice. What can I say? I think they have the best bagels.
Last night, though, I couldn’t justify driving out to Slingerlands to get the few items on my list. Especially since I was already down Lark Street way on an errand. So I pulled in the Delaware Avenue Price Chopper lot, parked my car and grabbed a cart. The cart, by the way, surprisingly came without the quarter deposit I had anticipated.
The produce aisle immediately beckoned. On my list: strawberries, brussels sprouts and mushrooms, all sale items. Of the three only the sprouts were available. In place of the anticipated fruits and vegetables were empty bins and signs informing shoppers that due to weather conditions produce was unavailable. I immediately wondered if the Price Choppers in Slingerlands and Glenmont would have the same signs posted. I got some brussels sprouts and organic black berries, which oddly were priced lower than the “regular” blackberries and moved on.
The aisles in this store are narrower than those in the suburban stores and I repeatedly encountered the same folks during my weaving up and down and around. There were some colorful people, including a man who bore a distinct resemblance to Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow character. Disappointingly he never emitted a pirate-like “aargh,” but each time our paths crossed the aroma of cigarette smoke clinging to his clothing and his cart filled with beer, told a story of its own.
The paper towels that were on sale were also unavailable, the shelf empty. I picked an alternate brand and moved past the end cap that emitted a smell that reminded me of scented candles burning. Not unpleasant, just kind of weird. I made my way to the checkout area where I was met by a friendly fellow who was hoping for some assistance in purchasing a “bag of chicken.” His alcoholic breath made me skeptical of his request, but in retrospect I wish I had offered to add his desired item to my own order.
Check out was otherwise uneventful and my cashier, like every other employee I observed, was pleasant and efficient.
The overall experience was positive, but it definitely left me wondering. Do all of the stores receive the same level of restocking or do the suburban stores get preferential treatment? Do my shopping habits mean I am guilty of white flight? And – where do you shop and why?