Sunday, April 24, 2011


When I was a kid, there was a grocery store nearby that we could reach by car or bicycle without spending a single moment on anything other than residential streets. It was called Wings, though I don't know why. Maybe it was Wing’s. Facebook has a tribute page for a Wing’s Grocery but it appears to be from Texas.

Elsewhere online I found a Wings Grocery supposedly in Hayward, California, but it appears to be located in a residential area. Not sure I want to be poking around the produce section in someone’s house. The only currently operating Wing’s Grocery I discovered were two in British Columbia and Alberta (in Canada, don’t y’know) and I’m not sure I’m willing to travel that far down memory lane.

Anyway, Wings—with or without the apostrophe—eventually became Nob Hill and then Nob Hill moved across the street and the old Wing’s building became
Big Lots!, where one can by all sorts of cheap plastic crap. It seems like Nob Hill could have just done a little updating and remodeling rather than truck all of their food products across the street. I wonder how much ice cream melted on the way . . .

The upgrade mindset of the common man (new car every three years, new house every ten, new wife every . . . oops . . . never mind) is repeated by large corporations like Nob Hill. There’s a national drug store chain with an existing location in a strip mall in San Jose that is building a new and more grandiose building . . . in the front of the parking lot of the same strip mall! It seems to me it would be easier to just stay where they are.

I generally seek out the easy over the hard. I mean, I’ll run a marathon or climb Mt. Whitney or motorcycle 700 miles in one day, but generally on the day-to-day business I want it all easy. And I have happened upon a rather easy life with the kids and the wife. There are moments of difficulty, of course, what with me being a stubborn and argumentative soul, but the overall picture, the CliffNotes™ if you will, is like the big red button at Staples Office Supplies: easy.

This begs the question: has Staples ever made the decision to close a store just to open another within a stone’s throw? That might disprove their claim that they are the keepers of the ease. I’ll have to look into that.


My easy life has come under attack by yet another grocery store taking their business elsewhere. When we moved to our house in 1992 we were pleased to have a grocery store just about a quarter mile away. Sure, when I was a younger man and not so eager to live easily, I usually drove there, but in recent years I have taken to walking for a couple bagfuls of food whenever we needed something.

The trip to Safeway was not much longer than my long ago sojourn to Wings, though I did have to cross a five-lane boulevard. Nevertheless, I made my way safely by foot many times, as did my kids. Yes, I have trusted my children out in the great big world without me hovering over them, worried about every possible catastrophe. It is . . . easier . . . that way.

Safeway didn’t want to do it the easy way. Rather than remodeling my existing space (they preferred calling it “their” space . . . whatever) they found some other poor building made vacant by another failed business and remodeled it, moving with much hoopla and pomp and a ten-dollar coupon for me to use at the new store.

The only problem is I can’t walk to their new store to use the coupon. Instead of making my life easier, Safeway has made it more complex. Their new store is very large, it offers tens of thousands of items when I can generally choose well from about one hundred, and the parking lot is large to match, and that brings too many of my fellow citizens to the store at the same time.

I have a few alternatives. The now-empty Safeway’s neighbor is a drug store that sells many of the non-food items I used to buy at Safeway. I can walk there. There is a discount grocery not much further in the other direction that sells some trustworthy food items (and some knockoff brands that look positively scary). I can walk there.

And then there are all of my neighbors’ refrigerators, which are well-stocked, and I happen to know that many of those people leave their homes, sometimes for hours at a time.

Some solutions may not be nice, but they are easy.

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