Sunday, April 14, 2013

My grocer calls me George

'50s Rosthern - courtesy Jim Friesen

Where are the green lentils?? Anyway?

My grocer’s name is George.

For a time, there, he took to calling me Jake, and I called him Pete because with the Hi, George followed by Hi, George, it was hard to tell who was talking to whom . . . and it sounded kind of silly.

At a recent hospital fundraiser put on by the local Lions, I sat with my grocer’s father-in-law and we chatted between forkfuls (forksful?) of pasta.

None of this is conveyed as news. It’s just to illustrate that the person who stocks green lentils if I ask for them is also a friend, a food confidante who knows the needs and tastes of his customers and caters for them if he can.

Sadly, our relationship to our tailors, our haberdashers, our hardware suppliers and our grocers is more distant on the whole than it’s ever been. Walmart sells groceries, for Pete’s sake (no pun intended). And we—being the acquiescent, consuming sheep that we’ve become—flock there because they can sell peanut butter for 20 cents less a pop.

And our friend’s living potentially dries up and he leaves town and we have no choice anymore but the big box store 75 kilometers away or the internet, where the owners don’t know that we have colitis or a broccoli allergy or that we do our own painting . . . and couldn’t care less.

If I was really mad, I’d mention how this is all feeding into the corporate globalizing of citizens, their reduction to anonymous participants in the highly profitable production/consumption paradigm that serves CEOs, corporate boards and stock traders. But I won’t, because it’s a beautiful spring (late winter in Saskatchewan) morning and I still have my George . . . or Pete . . . and my hardware expert Jen and my librarian Pat and a host of others who call me George and not Sir.

So what brings on this lament? Walrus magazine’s short article about the takeover of Zeller’s locations by Target. (Walrus, May, 2013, p. 16) So Target will be cheaper than Valley Sports and Hardware, but will they know my name? I doubt it because I checked them out on Wikipedia, and here’s what I found:

“Target Corporation, originally the Dayton Dry Goods Company and later the Dayton Hudson Corporation, is an American retailing company, founded in 1902 and headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is the second-largest discount retailer in the United States, preceded by Walmart. The company is ranked at number 38 on the Fortune 500 as of 2012 and is a component of the Standard & Poor's 500 index.”

The former Zeller’s location at Lawson Heights Mall—which traffic from Rosthern going into Saskatoon ordinarily passes—is being enlarged by Target. It will open soon and savers won’t have to go all the way to Walmart anymore. Think of the shortened driving distance as a green initiative!

I’m just saying.

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