All around the town

There is a Safeway grocery store at R Street and 17th Street NW that the locals call the “Soviet Safeway,” specifically because it typically has near-empty shelves, next to no variety of goods (why do we need 67 kinds of potato chips, anyway), and startlingly bad service. (Side note about the service there: it’s never going to get any better as long as it’s staffed by disaffected hipster youth who are more interested in writing bad poetry about their job than in ringing up customers, but somehow my side note has become an inside joke, for those of you who’ve heard the poetry at Mothertongue.)

At any rate, there is a distant cousin of the Soviet Safeway here in Walla Walla. If you want a can of pinto beans, for example, your options will be the following:

1. dented Safeway brand of pinto beans with no clear expiration date for 99 cents

2. undented can of Goya red kidney beans for $1.59

3. undented can of Progresso pinto beans for $2.79

In other words, it’s all about tradeoffs. How much do you really want pinto beans, buddy, the shelves seem to ask. I could go for the dented can of beans, paying the price point I’m most comfortable with (we’re talking BEANS here), but running the risk that they’re spoiled, or worse, that they look fine but we’ll all get dysentery after the meal. I could go for the kidney beans because aren’t we being too picky to act like they’re all that different from pinto beans? Or I could throw financial caution to the wind and blow nearly three bucks for the “fancy” beans, but will anyone care or notice? Will they eat whatever the meal is and say to themselves, “well thank God he splurged on the Progresso, or I’d have to have refused this dreck.” 

The very fact that I have to put this put decision-making time into so pithy a purchase is slightly maddening. But then again, I’ve got time on my hands.

Now there are other options for grocery shopping in Walla Walla. There’s the “fancy Safeway,” across town, which really means it’s another 10 minutes of driving time. There’s the Super 1 Foods, that has pretty good produce at pretty high prices, and there’s the Albertson’s that has a strange mix of obscure and high end products (like our favorite tomato paste in a tube) and sudden gaps in product areas, like no flour, for example. There is also the Seventh Day Adventist grocery store, Andy’s, that sells no meat or meat products. Having spent a good ten weeks now trying to figure out which store to visit for which kind of item, I have developed a complicated algorithm, factoring likelihood of finding the item, distance to travel (even between stores), probability of liking the price point, and freshness factor, when that is in play (read, dry pasta gets a null value here). I think I should patent this formula.

But let’s all guess here, on the following — what do we think is for sale at this location?


The Bi-Mart

The Bi-Mart

Bi-valves? Bicuspids? Anything bifurcated? Bisexuals? Or maybe it’s for bisexual shoppers only, like that bookstore in Provincetown, Massachusetts, that will give any customer who says they’re a lesbian a 10 percent discount. (No, you don’t have to be a lesbian, you just have to say you are. Hey, it’s 10 percent!) Anyway, I could go inside and find out, I suppose, but I’d like to collect some guesses first.

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Categories: transplanted


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2 Comments on “All around the town”

  1. jayinchicago
    November 19, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    *BI MART* !!!!!!!!!!!!!! that’s amazing.

    I bet dried beans would be somewhat cheaper. 😀

  2. evmaroon
    November 19, 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    The selection of dried beans is just as bad in this town. Plus, I’m not that organized — I need my beans when I need my beans. They have to be ready for action.

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