Thursday, July 24, 2008

Neighborhood Bob

Once upon a time every grocery store was a place the local neighborhood supported, where everyone knew your name and preferences. The reason that Bob's Market in Santa Monica still thrives in a town of mega market chains (several of which take up full city blocks) is that they still know your name and preferences. No, they don't carry fifteen brands of toilet paper, or twenty brands of coffee, but they do carry fresh organic produce, USDA Prime meat, and free range organic chicken. So go to the mega market for your favorite brand of paper towels, but go to Bob's for that rack of lamb you are going to cook for a dinner party. They have an old fashioned butcher (a man who actually cuts your favorite meat to order if you don't see what you want in the case). A smaller market doesn't mean higher prices; they are running a special on USDA Prime Porterhouse for only $13.99 per pound right now. How many supermarkets even carry USDA Prime cuts of meat, much less cut them to order?

Some people prefer the mega market chains because they say it's one stop shopping for everything they need. But convenience is a relative term, especially when combined with terms like quality, service, and plain old friendliness. Maybe we should redefine what is convenient to be a place where we leave with a smile because they went out of their way to make us happy. Can you say that about your neighborhood mega market? If not, try your neighborhood Bob's.

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