Wednesday, March 28, 2007

They keep dumbing down my supermarket. Years ago Star Market, a really great chain of stores, began to divest to its subsidiary, Shaw's, which was an OK market but not great. One of the first strange manifestations was that the Shaw house brand (quite decent on the whole) which had been prominently featured by Star, began to disappear once the Shaw's name went on the stores. I never understood that.

But I soon reoriented myself to new choices and settled into a routine only to find that once I formed a liking for something in the new line of offerings, almost invariably that item would be dropped. For example, Shaw's non-fat yogurt in a wide variety of fruit flavors and plain, is virtually absent. They started by cutting the variety of flavors way back and now they don't restock any of them very often. The last vestige of loose tea in tins was the three Twining's standards: English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Earl Gray. I bought them faithfully--now they stock only Earl Gray as loose tea in a tin, and I'm willing to bet the Earl's days are numbered. Ditto Old London Flatbread Crackers in the Everything flavor that were so good with a slice of Manchego, Tomme or extremely sharp Cheddar on them--completely gone.

Fritz has a big Hannaford's about two and a half miles from him and I've become pretty happy with it. The fish section extremely good and their produce is impressive in quality and variety. There's a decent gourmet/foreign foods section. Even they eliminated some great brands, like Edy's Whole Fruit Sorbets, a couple of years ago but they've still got a superior selection and I'm looking to shopping there all the time once I move. Add a specialty tea shop that Fritz discovered a short while ago and some internet shopping and I'll be able to stock the kitchen the way I like.

Which brings up the subject of selling my present house. I met with Bill, my broker, yesterday afternoon and we went through the grim figures. The foreclosed houses are being unloaded by the banks or other mortgage businesses to brokers for relatively low prices. The brokers can therefore tack on fifty or even seventy-five thousand dollars and still put them out on the market at prices lower than houses being sold by owners, even when those owners have already cut their asking prices in response to the market. I have sometimes had great good fortune in timing during my life but now isn't one of those occasions.

Bill had floated the idea of reducing the price of the house by $5000 a week until it found the price that would attract buyers, like a Filene's Basement automatic markdown. I said this sounded like slow torture and that while we were settling gradually, lots of other houses would already have arrived at a price attractive to potential buyers. So we bit the bullet and officially lowered the asking price of my house by a whopping $35,000 to put it into immediate competition with several others in the neighborhood that are getting decent numbers of potential buyers looking at them. Also, the "Staging Lady" had recommended marketing my house as a uniquely styled artist's home, in areas like the South End and Jamaica Plain which have a high gay population. So I passed on Fritz's suggestion that an ad should be placed in Bay Windows. Bill thought that a great idea and said he'll place one ASAP in preparation for another Open House at the newly reduced price this coming Sunday. I don't feel great about this but this is the reality of the current situation.

At MIT, I'm working on producing the coming Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company performance on Friday evening, April 6. This isn't the main Taylor Company but six of the most accomplished younger dancers who do both the signature Taylor dances and material created especially for them. Right now I have to sort out parking details for the Company's two mini-vans and the big truck that will bring in the stage platforms, lighting equipment, dance floor surface, etc. I’m looking at an eighteen hour day on the 6th but at least so far everything's going well.

Because our own final production of the year is putting in at the theater that day, I'll have virtually no equipment available to me from our own stock, and can't recruit too many students away from our own production's scenic and lighting crews. Fortunately, a donor gave enough money to fund my hiring a production company to bring everything we need in to equip the bare hall the performance is to take place in and turn it into a dance theater for the evening.

Gosh, I hope the $35K works for you. That sounds like a lot of $$$. But I do know that foreclosures are on the rise...rapidly. (Remember just a few years ago when GW Bush was making such a to-do about how many low-income families were now able to buy their own homes.....too bad they can't afford to stay in them over the long-term.) And the supermarket's always interesting to see what products come and go. You know, I asked in my market for a particular product a few years back (Coffee Mate Soy Vanilla Creamer) and they had it stocked on the shelf within the week....amazing!
I'm really picky when it comes to grocery stores. (Actually, Chris will tell you that I'm just really picky.) Anyway, in Florida, I loved Publix. Here, I really like the Shaw's we shop at. What surprised me though, is that Shaw's is owned by the same company that owns Albertson's. I've been to many Albertson's and I rank it right up there with Market Basket, which by the way, reminds me of Winn Dixie - which there are many in Florida. If you enjoyy grocery shopping with people walking around the store barefoot, you've died and gone to heaven.
I love dancers.
ah grocery shopping! i could write a book.

of course moving up the river from the fabulous offerings of Fairway and Citarella in Manhattan and a almostallyear greenmarket and Fresh Direct in Park Slope... shopping here (especially without a car for the first year) was pretty abysmal to say the least.

however I have cobbled together several places to get together enough of what i like and with an occasional foray to Citarella and Fairway for those impossible to get items (really good meat for one) I am managing.

Whole Foods - once a month or six weeks for the basics that can be frozen or stored

Silver Tips TeaRoom (on the web too) - must bigger selection and much better prices than Fauchon (no kidding). Love it and its right up the road in Tarrytown for when I forget to order in time - one day shipping is so hard to get the car out for - Highly recommend the Fair Trade Assam and Darjeeling .

A&P (a Food Emporium) in Hastings - since doing a once a week shopping for my Village Sister while she is nursing the newborn I have adopted back to that from my previous - walk down the street to the village deli (expensive but convenient). And its been pretty good - still missing things like Stonyfield WHOLE MILK Vanilla Yogurt but they have a pretty fair selection. And having the car helps now of course.

Geordanes - local village deli has a very good fresh meat/seafood etc dept - surprising for a deli - infact they do a lot of catering locally and so the deli counter is very active and the items are well cooked and as I said, convenient - but I am limiting myself to emergency trips to help with the budget. But good to have right down the street without taking out the car (and losing a hard to find parking spot)

yeah, parking - sigh, don't even get me started on that. I am finding that I am limiting my errands to what day of the week and when the next cleaning and how much I want to lose my this-block parking spot. I have applied for a spot in the village's one parking lot near my house but its a year wait. So the fun of parking on the street has begun.

still its nice to have the car.

good luck with the open house this weekend - fingers crossed!
sorry to hear about the house sales woes; this seems to be happening everywhere.
Our two major regional grocery chains were recently acquired by larger national chains. The sorts of things you are describing about loss of product diversity have happened here, as well.
I actually kind of, sort of like the Star Market that we have down the street - though its fresh produce and meat section I usually skip.

I really love Roche Brother's fresh produce and meat sections - I want to get one of everything when I go in.
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