The, um, joy of shopping carlessly

Like me, Frippy is a carless wonder. She is chiefly a cyclist and a public transit-keteer.

As carless wonders in St. Louis, we often end up making less-than-ideal retail choices. I get shit from people about the fact that I frequent the White Castle in my neighborhood, but show me another walk-to-able place near my house where I can get a cup of coffee before 11am and I will gladly go there. (And because the White Castle is the only such place around, it’s actually a fantastic place to go hear people from the area discussing politics vocally and frankly.) Similarly, as a vegetarian and a food nerd both I often get told about the wonders available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Wild Oats, but I have no idea how I would get to any of those places, let alone bring my heavy, perishable bags of groceries home once I got ’em. I know they’ve got great wares, but apparently they don’t want my business if they’re going to build out there in Carsonlyland–I couldn’t get there if I wanted to.

So, I very much enjoyed this lil’ thing Frippy wrote about the experience of regularly patronizing those I-don’t-have-a-choice chain stores that we carless waifs must frequent. I asked her if I could reprint it, and she generously said yes. Enjoy:

“Today at a unnamed drug store* near my house, I bought a large roll of duct tape, a box of Triscuits, a jar of hummus, and a bottle of Coke Zero. I paid for this with my debit card. The cashier gave me my receipt and an automatically generated coupon for tampons.

Now I know for sure that a certain Monolithic Retail Entity is keeping tabs on purchases I make there with my debit card. I’m not an expert on market demographics, but there’s no way my purchases obviously screamed “Woman of childbearing age!” What’s even scarier is that it’s almost that time of the month and I usually purchase my evil hygiene products here because it’s closest to the House of the Future.

So Monolithic Retail Entity apparently knows my menstral cycle, as well.

*If you live in Saint Louis, you do not win for guessing correctly, since there is only one correct answer.”

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Published in: on November 29, 2007 at 3:22 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Never apologize for eating at White Castle.

  2. I don’t know, I think my arteries are justified in demanding an apology when I get the gigundor size fries there.

  3. So you don’t have Walgreenses and CVS/pharmacies popping up right next to each other down there yet? It’s kind of hilarious.

    I call it “small-box” (it’s a rhyming metaphor!) shopping.

  4. We do not. During the time period between when the Downtown Walgreens (yes, singular, not plural) closed last year and the one near-ish my house opened last month, the closest Walgreens to my house was something like five miles away.

    And it’s not like there ain’t a market–the Downtown one was on the fourth floor of a nearly 100% vacant, not-so-clean, dead mall with usually-broken escalators, and yet people still made the trek up four stories of broken escalators to patronize the Walgreens, lacking any other pharmacies or general purpose stores nearby.

    Downtown StL’s doing a little better these days (It ain’t Gary or Detroit). The expensive-but-independent boutique grocery store has figured out the office supplies and medicine thing a little better, and heck, the fact that we have a grocery store is a vast improvement, and we’ve also got crap like gelato and crepes and all Downtown. However, there still is not a pharmacy right now that I know of. The lack of services sucks bigtime, although I am very grateful to live in a city with a pretty damn low frequency of chain stores.

  5. Oh my–I’ve been there! About 20 years ago, and the mall seemed to be thriving at the time, or at least it did to a seven-year-old with a new denim jacket from Famous Barr. (Famous Barr is gone too, isn’t it.)

    I haven’t been to St. Louis in forever, but I’m afraid I’d be really sad if I went back now because everything I remember about it from when I was a kid is probably gone or going. Except the arch, I guess.

  6. Famous is there, but it’s now Macy’s. The Macy’s people still left behind the old Famous sign right on the corner (or is it near the door? Can’t remember!).

    I remember when going to the downtown Famous store was a real treat–especially during the holidays, when you had Santaland, which was beyond anything I’d seen or have ever seen since, except perhaps FAO Schwartz.


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