Play the song at the bottom for full effect. 6PM on a Thursday night, entering Shaws to buy some fruit and trail mix for tomorrow’s hike. On a corner outside the usual electric doors is the usual soviet style picnic table, but this extra sad one is under an overhang, grotesque brown stains protected through all but the heaviest rainstorms.
Teenage employees on break sit there and smoke cigarettes; you can overhear one complaining “I TOLD him, I CAN’T work on Saturdays”. It’s windy and the cigarette disposal thing has blown over, delivering a whiff of it’s ashy organs to the conscious passerby.
Conveniently, Shaws doesn’t attract many of these. Sample customers #1 is a 40-70 year old man here to buy a giant vodka and 2? gallons of Ocean Spray cranberry juice, packaged in one of those awkward rectangularish bottles that you associate with coupon cutting mothers of 5.
#2 is a 30-50 year old woman showing off her wiiiide ass in Walmart jeans, wandering around the produce section with an empty face. Here, the shelves, floors, and inventory are sticky with a windex + fruit grime that forms anywhere you’d have trouble persuading these kids to wipe down. The most notable aisle advertises “warm beer” on the overhead sign. On the way out, another 40-70 y.o. man enters, and decides he hasn’t smoked enough of his cigarette. (At least, this is my guess. The following technique is new to me, and said theory is based on the grace with which he moved. He likely was not at all motivated by the now missing CeaseFire.) In a continuous motion and without looking, he bends down and, using the pavement as an abrasive, sweeps the cherry ash off the tip. On the way back up, he applies a (calloused?) thumb to any remaining embers, for half a step, and then finishes with a quick slip into the pocket of his hoodie.
The popularity of this store vs. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s is not based on lower prices. It is based on the convenient location, convenient purchase of heavy duty alcohol, and convenient purchase of cigarettes.