When I was a child growing up in River Heights, there were no large grocery stores in our neighborhood. The big chain stores were all located a car ride away and didn’t arrive in our area until the 60s. Until then there was a small grocery store a couple of blocks away on Grant that my mom went to occasionally. I don’t recall the name of the store but I remember going in there often just to buy popsicles or dixie cups. The owner knew just about everyone in the neighborhood.
Up in Washington, I frequent Costco, Safeway, Winnco and Walmart. I’ve been back in Mexico for almost six months and haven’t been to Walmart yet and only went to Costco once to renew my membership and buy cheddar cheese. There’s this tiny store on the corner of my street where I can buy everything from nail polish remover to onions to beer and everything in between.
And I don’t have to buy in quantity either. If I crave a bigger breakfast, I can buy one egg, two strips of bacon and a bolillo. I don’t have to buy a dozen eggs, a package of bacon and a loaf of bread. I’ve seen people go in there and buy one Tylenol or one tea bag. Even that River Heights grocery store wasn’t this convenient back in the 60s.
The interesting thing is that there are at least a half dozen more tiendas within a three block radius of where I live. They all carry an incredible amount of inventory. None of them had toilet paper shortages during Covid. My neighbors tell me they’ve all been around for years.
Later this month I’m going back to Washington and I won’t have the luxury of a corner grocery store. Instead it will be a full shopping cart. Reverse culture shock means I’ll also actually have to plan menus. No more satisfying my cravings on a whim by a few short steps to the corner.
On that note, I think I’ll head out and pick up an apple and a couple of slices of cheese for a snack.