You know the perfect times of the week to visit, when it's not packed to the brim with shoppers and you can get through an entire People magazine in the 12 Items or Less (or even better, Fewer) line. You know exactly where the rack with the nearly-expired marked-down bread is, and the most direct route to the liquor if you're picking up something last minute for the party. You may even have a favorite (or most despised) check-out clerk who you'll wait a few extra minutes for (or to avoid).
Your favorite grocery store is an extension of yourself. But what does that say about you?
Money means nothing to you. You worked hard for it, so hard for it honey, you want to treat your body right. That means being able to track the genetic history of the farmer that picked those almonds, and a day-by-day mood journal of the chicken you're about to devour. You don't purposefully leave your green Whole Foods bags just lying around the house, but you're also not going to go out of your way to hide them if company happens to come over.
You enjoy the feel of a casual neighborhood joint, but only when it's sanitized. Your definition of "dive bar" leaves room for 10-dollar cocktails. You enjoy the concept of running into people you know, but also play the "oh, I didn't see you there" card to acquaintances on a daily basis. You find comfort in traffic jams. You relate to the characters in "Cougartown," but would never admit that to anyone except your therapist.
You live near a Vons. Or, if you're shopping at the Echo Park one, you're looking for some chips or dessert to go with your burrito.
You need to schedule a check-up with your optometrist.
You are from the streets. The suburban streets. When you were growing up, and money was tight, your mom used to cut coupons, head here every week while you were at school, and get some reasonably-priced meal components. Now, every time you walk home carrying those brown paper Ralphs shopping bags, it reminds you a little of home. And then you make the Ralphs brand macaroni and cheese, realize your taste buds have evolved, and vow to go somewhere else next time. But you never do.
You are no nonsense. You want your grocery stores to be nothing more than places where you exchange money for food. To you, stores are not there to try to win your favor (*cough* Trader Joe's *cough*) or as symbols of a person's self-worth (hey there, Whole Foods). You just want to get in, get your shopping done, get out. You don't mind paying a tad more for chicken that hasn't been drying out under the heater since 6am, because you have some dignity.
99 Cent Store
You know the value of a dollar, and lack thereof. Rather than boutique stores that focus on merely perfecting one item, you want to get all of your shopping done in one fell swoop, because time is money and money is time. And that means all your shopping, from food to spatulas to calendars to socket wrenches to laundry detergent. Also, eating off-brand ice cream is exciting.
You are 23 years old and have no car.
Mom and Pop Independent Grocer
Your apartment complex doesn't come with a parking spot, and you are just plain sick of fighting the post-5 o'clock rush with your neighbors for the dozen spots on your block. Also, tomorrow's a street sweeping day, so you have that to keep in mind. Instead of heading out, then, tonight is simply going to be a date with yourself, a few cheap tortillas, a two-liter soda, and a six-pack of Tecate.
You just don't care anymore. But not in a bad way, where you've hit rock bottom and your life means nothing. In a freeing way. An outsider's judgement means nothing to you, so you will live your life as you please. You did it. You won. First prize is a tube-shaped mess of meat and cheese.
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