I Miss The Independent Grocers

I’ve been frustrated a bit lately when I’m out shopping. Mostly because the people who work in the chain grocery stores don’t really care about what they’re selling, but about their meager paycheck that they get each week. When I can’t find something and ask one of the stockers they usually don’t know what I’m talking about. It didn’t used to be like this and I do kind of miss the old days.

I’ve been cutting back on my salt and realized that malt vinegar on a baked potato or fries didn’t make me feel a need for salt. So I’m in a store and couldn’t find it and asked a stocker where their malt vinegar was. She scratched her head because she didn’t know what it was. If I asked her where the Prid nam plah [Thai fish sauce] she would have been able to show me in a second where it was. I guess at that particular grocery store which caters to mostly Asians they don’t have to think about anything else.

We were shopping at another version of the same chain and I couldn’t find the Bisquick. I happened to see a stocker that was fairly caucasian looking so I asked him where was the Bisquick. His response? Beeskweek? vat is dat? [That’s my best insulting sounding version of a Russian accent]. I finally got through to him what it was and he took me to it, but as I said before, it didn’t used to be like that.

My Mom always hated chain grocers and always wanted to support the local so we went to Foremost Market as a kid. Mark and Vic and Lynn were like family to us.  Their prices were competitive with the chains, but that just meant that they had to work harder. These three were Armenian I think, but they knew their customers well enough that one night we got a phone call that I answered and heard, Eric this is Mark tell your Mom that we’ll have fresh basilico and tagiarini in early tomorrow. My Mom always made pesto before it became cool and it was being slathered on everything and Mark knew that and he knew that by telling my Mom that she’d be in first thing in the morning to pick it up and we’d spend time making pesto sauce when I got home from school.

If I stopped by on my way home from school to grab a soda I’d always be told what was good so my Mom would know what to buy. There was always one of them going through the produce yanking the stuff that had gone bad instead of leaving it there figure someone will be stupid enough to buy it. I miss Foremost Market. Everything that wasn’t boxed or canned came from somewhere close by and they even sold Wright’s Pink Popcorn and regularly carried It’s-its. I suppose I shouldn’t focus looking back on the old days, but at least back then they were more helpful. As a side note, Foremost was the first place I got to try prosciutto di parma and it was the industrial made crap that the chains sell today.

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