Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Someone's noticed that the grocery stores are disappearing. The regular ones. (Nobody's worried that the big boxes in the middle of nowhere are going to vanish overnight.)

It all adds up to a growing food paradox in this country. There are all kinds enormous stores opening up, and at the same time, smaller grocery stores are closing down — often in downtown cores. These were the stores that people could once easily get to.

I'm fortunate to live in a neighbourhood where I can remain blissfully ignorant of the phenomenon facing other urbanites across the nation.

We drive out to a big box supermarket about every two weeks — there's good prices to be had on some things and I like the convenience of the other services the store offers.

But there's a grocery store just around the corner from our apartment. And another one if you go in the other direction. And another just up head.

Throughout the week, if I need to pick up just a couple things, I head to one of those three grocery stores I shop at regularly. They're all within a 20-minute walk of home. There are two others within the same proscribed area that I don't frequent. I know of others, just a little further off and in the opposite direction of the one I usually take.

There is a grocery store across the street from Helena's daycare and J-F's office, in the heart of downtown. (I could walk there in 40 minutes if I wanted to.) There is another at the bus stop, which I stop at some days when I'm bringing Helena home on my own.

On top of all these grocery-shopping options there's a plethora of fruit and vegetable stores. And bakeries.

They're always busy.

Not every store has every brand, options may be limited in regard to some items, and pricing can be uneven, but living here I will never have to worry about being able to get out to do the groceries (unless I slip on a patch of ice and break my leg or develop a bizarre gastrointestinal condition that keeps me vomiting copiously, but even then I'm not above calling J-F at work with a list of things to pick up on his way home).

I love this neighbourhood. Where do you shop?


Anonymous said...

Huh! I never heard of such a thing, and we LIVE in Vancouver. There are two Safeways within walking distance of me, and a Capers (for them as can afford it!). There are also about seven bakeries (two of them are Greek!), two butchers, a fishmonger's, more produce stores than I can count, and THREE chocolatiers (that counts as food, right?).

This is a more affluent corner of Vancouver than where the article mentions, though. I bet that makes a difference.

as far a box stores go, everytime I go to the Superstore (maybe once a month) I think WOW, food is so CHEAP here! I should shop here all the time! Except who wants to drive that far? I can't imagine. I like to be able to put the pot on to boil, run out and get the things I forgot, and be back before my house burns down. Driving out that far would require planning, and I'm dead set against that.


Suzanne said...

Well, in this tiny town, there is a butcher, a baker, a gourmet food shop, a chocolatier and a superstore exactly one kilometre away. In the opposite direction, there is a mega-mall with a superstore, a drugstore, bookstore, etc. about 10 minutes away. Just as you enter the town's limits, you can see it.

I make myself go into "the city" (about 20 minutes by bus) to a very large farmer's market once a week. It's the only place to get fresh cheese, herbs and candied ginger as far as I am concerned.

I always shop for other items in places that offer good consumer-incentive programs.

Though I am the primary shopper in my family, I always ask my husband to stop "on the way home" to pick up something :)

Michele said...

Food shopping for me has always been distasteful (ouch, sorry for the pun). I have a passionate dislike for large chain grocery stores. Although there is a Loblaws only moments from my home I rarely go there; well, except for a few of the PC items that I adore. I am more then willing to endure less selection for better service. I am on a first name basis with many of my local merchants including the woman at the pastry shop, the couple who own the farmers market, the butcher who calls me Bella, the woman who owns one of the finest tea shops in town and a full menu (ouch again) of other delightful shops owners and staff. So that is where I shop....

Hmm, did you really want that much information? Yes, of course you did. Now please ask about book shopping in a future post. I have much to say about that.

Oh, yes, before I forget. "Hello, Michele sent me."
But as you know she has been sending me here for quite some time now.

Yes, Isabella you are it.

. said...

Hello, Michele sent me. And luckily enough, let me sign in! Speaking of groceries, I have a recipe on my site today, so check it out! We have lots of grocery stores here in NH but we also have the smaller convenience stores and in our little town an old-fashioned general store. We try to pick up a few things every week at the family-owned small stores. They won't be there when we need them if they fall prey to the bigger corporate marts!!

Isabella K said...

Ack. I haven't even had coffee yet this morning.

But so far the evidence here suggests that the disappearance of the small grocery store (and other family-owned ventures) is a myth.

Or is it that members of the blogging community tend to live in friendly, non-corporate-America-ruled neighbourhoods?

Anonymous said...


Michele sent me to find out that, hey, you're a fellow Montrealer!


Suzanne said...

Well, Michele didn't have to send me since I stop by almost every day on my own, but congrats on being the "it" site of the day!

Since I live in overdeveloped, pedestrian-hostile suburbia, unfortunately I shop in a big chain grocery store. There is a local farmer's market close to my house, and I buy produce and baked goods there when I can.

ShoeHound said...

Hi, Michele sent me.

I used to live in the city where there was a major grocery chain on every corner. Now that my neighbors are cows, deer and owls, it's more difficult to shop. Usually the corner store or a big trip to the one grocery store.