The Break-Up: Part II
Last summer, I broke up with my grocery store. Our relationship had gone stale, so I started seeing someone new (you can read the story here).
Now it’s time to confess I wasn’t able make the break-up stick. That’s because the newly remodeled Harris Teeter grocery store on Central Avenue has been cleverly designed to be nearly irresistible.
From its pedestrian street entrance, strolling shoppers can get coffee or lunch from salad and Asian-food bars, then enjoy their meals at outdoor café tables or in an airy, second-floor space with skyline city views. There’s a pharmacy and a florist. What’s more, HT has gotten more competitive with their pricing, and aggressive with their promotions.
It’s as if the former flame you dumped got a new wardrobe, learned to cook, and could suddenly speak Italian. The combination can be alluring.
Most days, it’s easy to drive on past HT while making my way to a farmers’ market or specialty grocer. But every now and then, I'm enticed by the bright lights and convenience. “I'm here for you,” HT seems to whisper. “We’re still friends, so it’s OK.”
And so, swept up in the moment, a couple of times I’ve given in.
Like most relationships we re-kindle even temporarily, it was neither as good as I’d hoped nor as bad as I’d feared. I noticed some improvements: There’s now a display of local produce, and a wider variety of beer and wine. But for all the expansion they’ve done, I couldn’t discern a difference in the ethnic foods selection, which should be growing robustly as the region’s population becomes more diverse. And they didn’t address a long-time pet peeve that isn’t solely mine: putting their annoyingly scant array of Jewish holiday foods on the shelves at the wrong time of year.
Yes, underneath the trappings of newness, my reasons for the break-up were still there. And that’s always the story. Reality clashes with our expectations. Even when we can predict the outcome, sometimes we backslide and blame it on proximity, familiarity, or habit.
Now Publix stores, “Where shopping is a pleasure,” have gotten a foothold in North Carolina and they’re encroaching on Charlotte, where you can bet they’ll be turning on the charm.
I spent a lot of time in a relationship with HT. Should I give them one last chance to win me back? It depends. Chanukah falls within eight days of Christmas this year. Will they have candles and chocolate candy gelt on the shelves in at the right time? Will they move out April’s matzos and make space for the dreidels?
It should be easy, and the least they can do – if they want me to stick around for more than just a fling in the future.