The Grocery Store

tomWhen did the grocery store become the supermarket become the discount store become the retail experience become the self-serve?

That’s a rhetorical question, kids, because I’m sure I could trace the roots of the whole retail changes through Google and I’m sure I don’t want to do it. I would be happy just to wind back the clock a bit to the 1950’s and 60’s and to go to a grocer store that sold groceries.

This post is the result of going into the Woolworth’s supermarket in the local shopping centre and trying to find groceries. I was partly successful – I did get a pepperoni sausage and some cheese and that means that at least the corn flakes can be done properly tomorrow morning. But the battle was long and hard to find where the small, regular, necessary, cheap groceries were kept.

Most of them were kept down the back of the store and hidden from direct view. Your eye needed to glance off the pre-packaged duck bladders and the chocolate lettuce hearts in tourmaline sauce to actually reach round to the bread and milk*. Mind you, if you were looking for triple-filtered non-lactose allergen-free dairy-like white substance in designer tetrapaks, they were there in the front cooled shelves. I have never seen as much designer and targeted food in my life.

To their credit, they did have a pretty good selection of fresh fruit and vegetables available. Some of the prices were fresh too, but I put this down to the desire of the retail chain to drain my last drop of blood and discard the husk. I do not blame them for this as it is the basic principle of commerce. Having discovered just how little food I need to consume to be healthy and happy I have somewhat relaxed my sense of outrage at the prices.

In any case, there is always the smaller greengrocers if they survive – and the odd but appealing option of the oriental food stores. I have no idea how to cook what they sell but the staff are kindly and willing to share recipes. I’m not taking home the canned sea urchin, though…

* Not the worst. the local IGA actually hides the milk behind a mirrored glass panel – invisible from the main aisle. Prevents people from buying only milk…

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