Tuesday, September 09, 2008

BRWFSP, Pt 4: The End

Let's beat this dead horse one last time by cutting to the chase before I wrap up the epilogue with some more annecdotes. Essentially, I'm saying that indulgences should be valued and appreciated. Even though Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are right off the highway that doesn't mean that Interstate 64 needs to be your yellow brick road to the wonderful wizard of Oz. Creating a traffic snafu is a contradictory homage to natural and ethical lifestyle choices. Try zumthing different once in a while.

Biking may not be the best way to do a Short Pump trip, no matter where you live. But evidently, it's a pretty provocative idea. I do highly recommend the experience, but I probably won't do it often (you know what they say about bodies in motion vs. bodies at rest). The Patterson to Three Chopt route is really rather pleasant, even if you're driving. Richmond has a lot to offer in the form of historic neighborhoods, parks, and a multitude of authentic cultures. So, I hope that the pre-fab environments of malls and big box stores are a relatively infrequent experience for me. Enough moralizing and on to some of my own contradictions:

Of course, when I do hit the humongous havens of retail heaven,
I'm gonna do it my way:

If this you missed the previous installments, here's part one, two, and three.

Meanwhile, back at Short pump...

In my post bike ride haze, I apparently visited the free avocado stand twice by mistake. Whups! Guess I had stopped by there on the way in and the way out. Maybe I was discombobulated by all the consumer excitement. ;0) After packing everything away, I hopped on my bike and rode across Broad to Best Buy, proud to be two wheeling it in Glenn Allen where car culture is king. I've got a subscription to eMusic, and sometimes albums that I want don't show up there. If it's a really dire case, I'll head to Best Buy, hoping for a sale (avoiding the $17.99 of Plan 9 - I mostly buy used there). Today, I just wanted a treat and to diversify my bike basket portfolio. I searched the end-caps where the $9.99 discs are displayed, hoping to find something new. And there it was: Fleet Foxes. I had no idea what it sounded like, but the critical acclaim made me feel like I needed it. I asked the clerk if they have a listening station, but they didn't (score one for Plan 9 - the album is very lovely, btw). After picking up some rechargeable D batteries for Jasper's swing, I headed out.

Back across Broad Street, I rode through the Trader Joe's parking lot. There were cars out front, so I thought I might peep some of TJ's secrets, oompa loompas carrying cases of Two Buck Chuck, or some piece of news that I could break for you all. I pedaled right up to the front door and it swung open for me (the motion sensor made it do that automatically). I debated going inside the haunted TJ's, but I noticed that there was nothing on the shelves as of yet. I decided against intruding and left, wondering if they might wanna hire an internet hype artist for their opening. Just kidding, I'll be out of town that weekend anyhow.

My last stop was the Vitamin Shoppe in the same little leggo-land mini-mall. I headed straight back to the clearance bin and zero'd in on the 75% off items. The clerks must have a knickname for people like me who blow past their carefully placed product displays for the scratch and dent and almost expired items. I picked up an irresistable 2 lb tub of "pre-workout muscle igniter." The claims on the label really grabbed me:
  • Explosive Energy
  • Insane Muscle Pumps
  • Laser Sharp Mental Focus
  • Lemon Lunacy Flavor
Those are all word-for-word quotes, yall. I was temped to add this to my water bottle, but I've had too many negative experiences with energizing products to poison myself way out in the middle of nowhere. No, I'm gonna try this stuff at home. Now, how much are you supposed to snort? Come to think of it, this epic four part blog entry kinda smacks of stimulants of one sort or another. But, it's all natural exhibitionism and ego, locally produced and non-gmo. Don't you worry.

Back on the road, I vowed to take my time getting home. No, I didn't go to West Elm or H&M (not without Karen, anyhow). Despite my anti-consumerist diatribe, I love to shop. But I couldn't weigh my bike down any further.

There was no rush and I no longer had a full head of steam. Nonetheless, my sense of accomplishment and newfound knowledge of the roads made the ride go by quick. In fact, it was somewhat meditative and relaxing. My legs had resigned themselves to the movement and this acceptance helped me transcend some of the muscle fatigue. I detoured through Carytown and Groveytown before that, but I didn't stop anywhere. The ride back home was 50 minutes, capped off with a shower and furious somewhat inspired blogging.

So, back to the operative question. The Whole Foods vision of loveliness was totally worth the trip. It's a totally dreamy place. Everyone reading this should go and see it and try at least one thing. Considering my small bike basket and limited funds, I could only take part in "Partial Foods." Not that there's anything wrong with that. I love expensive things and expensive places. Just in small doses. As for the bike ride, these blog entries of mine usually fall into either the "how to" category or the "how not to" category. I'm pegging this one a "how to."

For analysis of the grocery store market impact of Whole Foods, see Veronica, my favorite patiserie. Which stores will Whole Foods' impact, assuming they successful establish themselves? Some say it's Ukrops, Ellwoods, Fresh Market. What do you think?


  1. Isn't Fresh Market opening up a unit in Midlothian?

    and where Mars (?) Music is now, there was once a Fresh Fields which Whole Paycheck bought out..

    and the one in London UK has outdone Harrods..


  2. You know, other options include organic food coops. Right now, we order online from a large catalog of packaged goods and foods, we split up the costs of cases, and then we have a truck deliver it to the neighborhood. We would like to combine with fresh produce from local CSA's and our own gardens.

    Earthlings Organic Food Coop

  3. Anonymous11:00 AM

    The workers at WF seem a lot less goofy than at Elwoods.

    I heard this at Elwoods a week or so ago..

    "Fresh oxygen from plants is so refreshing!"

    Oy gewalt!

  4. Anonymous11:21 AM

    i'm happy to pay extra at whole foods just to check out their smokin hot employees. good olive bar too.

  5. Anonymous12:10 PM

    I hear you about all this, but I think you're a wee bit kooky with the bike thing. I'm jaded with grocery stores and I try to get the healthiest food for the least $$. I even shop at the salvage grocery store at Turner and Hull Street. Now that's extreme shopping!!! I got to take a pre-opening tour of WF and enjoyed ogling the food porn, but I won't be making it a regular stop. TJ's, on the other hand, watch out! I've been know to drop $275 on two carts of groceries at the stores in Springfield and Newport News.

    Cheers from your suburbanite stay-at-home mom anonymous poster who likes to stay away from downtown at all costs!

  6. Anon #3: We are totally on the same page about WF, salvage barn, and TJ's except I try to stay away from the burbs instead of the city. And sure, the bike thing was extreme, but life is short and petroleum is finite. My legs are still saying WTF! but it was a worthwhile experience.

    Anon # 1 and 2: I hear there are some cool people I know from the city working at WF. I hope those jobs pay well.

  7. Anonymous2:30 PM

    The prepared food section and plethora of salad bars are intoxicating to say the least. Baked goods are mediocre though. Since you pedaled there, you just have enjoyed the blizzard air conditioning. I actually found it quite painful.

  8. Anonymous2:47 PM

    Actually, Fresh to Frozen is my salvage grocery store of choice. Better neighborhood, slightly less scary food. And not to be combative or anything, but why the allegiance to the city? Because it was there first? Byrd Park was once a suburb, you know. Suburban sprawl is disbusting, but my quiet (affordable!!) neighborhood where there are tons of kids my kids' ages and room to ride bikes in the street is great. I have lived in the area for nearly 9 years and I have earnestly tried to avail myself of what downtown has to offer and my husband and I have simply given up and can't seem to figure out what all the hype is about.

  9. WF does stuff like this in Hooville..

    Whole Food Cashiers and their managers gathered at Free Bridge on Wednesday July 16 for a Team Building Rivanna River Clean Up. The Clean Up, facilitated by the Rivanna Conservation Society, brought this enthusiastic group together to build team spirit, cooperation and to provide an outstanding public service.

    Beginning at 10am and ending at 1pm, the Whole Foods employees pulled tires, shopping carts, scrap metal and debris from the river. As a complement to the instream trash retrieved, the streambank clean up team collected more than 30 bags of trash.

    Thanks to the great folks at Whole Foods for their efforts to clean up and protect our beautiful
    Rivanna River.


  10. Ha! I've never heard it called Whole Paycheck here in Austin, but I intend to pass it along.
    The first time I went to a WF was in New York freshman year of college. Man, was I in heaven. I didn't even know they had actual grocery stores in Manhattan, much less ones with so much pretty stuff and such pretty people! But I also was oblivious to food prices, being newly on my own and living off of generous student loans. Times have changed.
    When I first moved to Austin I got here just in time to see WF move from their original building downtown (well, pretty much down town) across the street to their colossal new world headquarters. It is big, especially for a building in that area.
    I practically banned myself from there, mostly because of my beloved olive bar (I can't escape without a nearly $15 binge).
    It is very centrally located though and I never really appreciated the convenience. I can walk there on my lunch break to dig on the salad bars, meet up with friends for a snack before happy hour, grab a few things on my way home, people watch while I've got some time. Why are all the people there so attractive, especially the employees? I've got a mean crush on our seafood guy.
    Obviously it's more of a destination for me than a regular shopping option.
    BUT - the people in the departments here are incredibly knowledgable, helpful and fun to talk to. You practically have to have a cheese degree to work in that department (ok, I have a lot of friends that work there). As far as I know, they are good to their employees, proven by the fact that jobs there are kind of hard to get.
    I'm wondering if their practices vary much from region to region. I mean, no bike racks?? Can they achieve the same destination place feel that way?
    I know they have a pretty good recycling program, taking into account the types of plastics the city won't take, etc. A lot of the restaurants here recycle, but I belive WF even composts it's wasted produce through a commercial composter. I've heard that their whole basemest level is for waste management.
    I still prefer our Coop market for actual shopping because they give significant discounts for members which offsets the extra price for the extra fresh. PLUS, it's a fraction of the size so I can get what I want quickly without being dazed by all the glitz. I hope they stick around despite the general WF craze Austin lends itself to.
    The average neighborhood grocery still gets my patronage far more often.

  11. Can you all tell that casschamp is my cousin? So glad that my family finds my blog once in a while. Being married, I don't feel like I can comment on the attractiveness of the employees (publicly, anyhow). But I do worry what would happen to my bank acct if I lived within walking distance of a WF. You gotta meet Jasper, Cassie!

    Non-combative anon: I moved to Richmond from the suburbs of Northern VA because I wanted to live in a city, to walk places, talk to neighbors, visit independent businesses, and generally soak up the diversity that urban life has to offer. Richmond may fall short in some of those areas, but growing this place into a "real city" is a challenge that I embrace.

    I'll stop there instead of going off about my political and personal feelings on suburbs suburbs. Maybe someone more analytical than me can offer a critique and call for a clear division of urban and rural with no wasteful middle-ground.

  12. Anonymous8:43 PM

    You know, they don't call it 'shit pump' for nothing!


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