Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Neighborhood Market

If you knew my neighborhood, you'd think I was pulling your leg. The fact of the matter is, we live in a pretty sketchy part of town. Okay, really sketchy. (i.e. our next-door neighbor, who we were on a first-name basis with since we moved in three years ago, was convicted of raping a woman in the empty house next door to him after luring her there via a Craiglist ad - yeah, we learned about that when we saw the TV crews setting up shop in our front yard). Basically, during the residential real estate boom here a few years ago, they started plopping down nice, brand-new developments in the middle of what has always been a heavily industrial/agricultural part of town. And then they started commercial development around them, but for some reason, the area around ours has remained undeveloped for a long time.

And then finally a little shopping center down the street from us started opening its doors. First a Lowe's. Yippee for Che! No more 20 minute one-way trips to the nearest Home Depot. Not long after that, the Staples next door opened. Also nice. But the most exciting addition opened yesterday, and I am thrilled. It's our local Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market. Keep in mind that until now, the nearest grocery store was at least 15 minutes away. This market is right down the street. Close enough to walk if I want to (and it's on the loop that I frequently run, so I know it's almost exactly a half mile from my house). I have been anticipating this market for months and can't believe it's finally open. I've been reading the Fresh & Easy blog almost daily for updates on their stores and to learn about their concept, which impresses me.

We stopped in tonight to check it out, and I am in love. The size is comparable to a Trader Joe's, so you can be in and out quickly. ALL of the checkout lanes are self-check, which makes me soooo happy, although their clerks are there to bag your groceries for you. And the store is so bright and clean. Things are arranged very neatly, so it's easy to shop there. They have a GREAT selection of healthy prepared meals, so I can stop in and grab dinner (tonight was crab rolls - yum) instead of swinging through a fast food drive thru on the way home.

They're also very eco-friendly. They're committed to constructing green buildings, with LED lighting and lots of skylights and windows for natural lighting. There's in-store recycling for plastic, plastic bags, aluminum, glass, and paper. Their parking lot has bike racks and a number of reserved spots for hybrid vehicles. They also provide, free of charge to customers, reusable and recyclable shopping bags. Oh, and as part of their grand opening celebration, they were giving away free bouquets of fresh-cut flowers. I took home these nice tulips and irises:

Oh, and best of all? Their prices are great. Pretty comparable to TJ's. And they also carry a good selection of conventional products, so I can get my fresh produce and hormone-free meats and dairy at great prices, and still satisfy my Coke fix and Che's addiction to Post Honey Bunches of Oats in one fell swoop. Hopefully, more often than not, this is the only stop I will have to make for my weekly grocery shopping. Yippeeeeeee!

Seriously, I have not been this excited about a grocery store since Central Market in Austin. Don't get me wrong, this is no Central Market. NOTHING compares to Central Market. But considering what's around me, I am damn happy to have the Fresh & Easy and actually can't wait to do a full blown shopping trip there this weekend.

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