I don’t know exactly when my fascination with grocery stores started, but it goes back to my childhood I’m sure. Being an only child I had to create adventure and amusement out of what others may consider fairly ordinary and mundane things. One of those things was the weekly trip to the grocery store with my mom.
We went through all the phases of child and mother grocery shopping. Hanging on the front of the cart, begging for candy whenever we would hit the check out; only to be met with a swift “NO”. In the later years, sitting in the magazine isle reading up on video games while mom shopped because I was clearly “too cool” at the age of 12 to be seen shopping with her. Through all these experiences, I grew to love the variety of small grocery stores that lined my hometown in Wisconsin.
Each had their own personality that made them unique. One had a small diner in it that my grandmother Avis absolutely loved going to after church. The store even had a small video store where the walls were lined with “video cards” you would take to the checkout to claim your VHS or beta selection. These were not “mega” stores by any means; they were small neighborhood grocers that you don’t see much of anymore today.
One of the most interesting portions of the grocery store was the deli case. The selection of meats that were waiting to be shaved weighted and handed over the stainless steel counter to a waiting mom were always intriguing to me. Mainly because I knew nothing beyond the realms of a yellow bologna carton. Sure I knew shaved turkey too, but pimento loaf? Some of these looked to be brain and end parts mixed in to one large brick of pink jello that someone somewhere was putting into a sandwich. It was all so exotic to the 10 year old version of me.
As an adult, I still love going to the grocery store. I could get lost in them today. While it is nice to be able to find a wider variety of ingredients than ever before, I do miss the quaint inviting feel of grocery stores past. To this day, I could look back on those stores and still be able to tell you what isle to find your items in. Things didn’t change much in these stores. The meat cutter, the deli guy, the checkers who had made a career of working there – You knew everyone’s name.
If you are lucky enough to still have a neighborhood grocery center like this, take some time to appreciate it. Because as the wheels of time keep turning, the unique experience of visiting the “neighborhood grocer” fades away from more communities every day.