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Wegmans Is No Stew Leonard’s

30 Oct

According to some of my friends, the opening of a Wegmans store in Northborough was akin to the second coming, or the Cubs winning the World Series.

Getting excited about the opening of a supermarket is not a foreign concept to me, but apparently, this was different.

“It’s not a supermarket,” they said. “It’s an experience.”

Cool, I thought. I grew up in New York, and shopped often at Stew Leonard’s, where there are samples around every bend, and whimsical touches like singing/dancing food help make the shopping experience more fun for shoppers of all ages.

So suffice it to say, I know what it’s like when a store goes above and beyond to make grocery shopping different and a more enjoyable experience.

Would Wegmans be anything like that? Continue reading

Taking It Back

7 Apr

The truth is, Passover really isn’t such a bad holiday. I’d rather have a limited diet for eight days than not be able to eat for one, as is the case on Yom Kippur. But that doesn’t make the end of the holiday any less enjoyable. Last night, as the sun went down, I indulged my two other Passover traditions: eating a pasta dinner from Bertucci’s and taking my extra food back to Star Market. After all, if I’m going to be overcharged for the food, then why shouldn’t I take back all the things I didn’t need when the holiday is over? (I like to think of it as my way of sticking it to the Man.) This year, I had plenty of extra food to return — due to the fact that I brought back a lot of leftovers from New York (mmm … mom’s brisket), and the fact that I ate smarter during the week. I brought back a box of Coffee Cake mix, two cans of tuna fish, a jar of gefilte fish, and a jar of jelly. The grand total for all that: $20.15. I’d call that a success. So … Happy end of Passover. Martin: 1, The Man: 0.

A Passover Tradition Continues

24 Mar

Like the youngest child asking the four questions, or the hiding of the afikomen, I, too, have my own Passover traditions. One of those is posting a rant about how much I hate shopping for Passover food. If you don’t know, dietary restrictions during Passover prevent you from eating anything with flour or yeast in it. And if you’re observant enough to keep the holiday, then you need to purchase Kosher for Passover food for eating during the week. While I’m not the most observant Jew 51 weeks of the year, I often joke that Passover is the one week when I find my religion. As a result, each year I have to buy these “special” ingredients and foodstuffs.

Sunday was my annual trip to Star Market to make these purchases (the holiday starts this Monday night), and like in years past, I was annoyed by how much I was being charged to buy food I didn’t even want to buy. $6 for a box of cookies that might ordinarily cost $2.50. Cake mix for the same price, even though the cake is half the size of a normal cake (if not smaller). A jar of grape jelly for $4. A can of tuna fish for nearly $3. And those were the “sale” prices! Yes, that’s what supermarkets do: They set a price for the Passover food, call it a “sale” price, and mark its regular price a dollar or so higher. It’s like they’re capitalizing on the horrible stereotype that Jews like their deals and would rather buy something on sale than if it was normally priced. And then, because we don’t have the option, we buy all this overpriced stuff, which we only need for a week.

When all was said and done, I had spent $50 on Sunday for my K4P food — and that’s not even counting the perishable stuff that I’ll pick up this weekend. By comparison, on an average week, I usually spend about $20 for my groceries (the beauty of living by myself, I guess). So that’s why I saved my receipt. When the holiday is over, I’ll be partaking in my second Passover tradition: returning all my unopened food and getting my money back. The way I figure it, if the store’s gonna overcharge me, the least they can do is take back and refund my money for the stuff I don’t use.

Happy early Passover to all who celebrate. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Wow. What an Improvement

31 Oct

Holy crap.

The new Star Market in Chestnut Hill (which opened yesterday) is awesome.

Finally, we have a supermarket worthy of the zip code — one that’s a huge improvement over the old one.

I went to check out this glorious place after work last night, after weeks of waiting for it to open (months, actually, considering how long the place was under construction).

Suffice it to say, the wait was worth it. Continue reading

I Wonder What’s in Store

8 Oct

People who know me know I get excited about the silliest or simplest of things.

Like the fact that when I went to get gas last night, the price was just $2.39 a gallon — six cents cheaper than the place I drive by on the way to work every day.

What can I say? I think it’s a good thing that it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Continue reading


19 Nov

The more things change … I returned to my old second home, Star Market/Shaw’s on Comm Ave., last week and was shocked to learn that the whole place had been remodeled! It was only in April that I moved, and while I now do my weekly grocery shopping in other Star Market locations, I find it hard to believe that I haven’t been back to this one in a long enough time that it gave the store a chance to totally change and look completely different. And don’t get me wrong: It looks great! I really enjoyed walking up and down the aisles discovering where all the foods had moved to. Yes, I know it’s totally lame to be excited about a supermarket’s new look, but I spent a lot of time here during the first 11 years of my Boston residency, so I considered this a big deal.

The more they stay the same … Alright, I finally have to post something about this: My new next-door neighbor plays an instrument. A guitar. Or at least I think it’s a guitar. It sort of sounds more like a banjo. But it’s an instrument nevertheless. And he plays it a lot. Like, every night. However, things are different now. For one thing, a guitar (even one that sounds sort of like a banjo) is not nearly as bad as a violin. Or a flute, for that matter. Secondly, it’s not like it’s soooo loud that it interferes with my TV-watching like the playing did in my old place. And finally — also most importantly — I’ve met my neighbor and he’s a nice guy. So if I was ever that annoyed by his playing, I’m sure he’d stop, even though I know he doesn’t have somewhere else to go. So I’m going to keep a positive, tolerant, flexible attitude about this. Still, it’s totally amusing to me that I’ve moved next to another instrument player. What luck I have.

Ah well. As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.


5 Dec

Well, at least Shaw’s isn’t this clueless. According to a New York blogger named NancyKay Shapiro, the supermarket Balducci’s is displaying ham as “Delicious for Chanukah.” Next thing you know, they’ll be featuring matzah and saying it’s “Perfect for Easter.”

(Thanks to Farrah for the tip.)

Maybe They’re Just Really Messy Eaters …

16 Sep

As I’ve previously written, there is perhaps no greater source for comedy — not including my apartment building — than the Shaw’s in Allston on Comm Ave. It’s like the place is a Bermuda Triangle for common sense (and common decency, but let’s stay positive here for a change).

To wit: Tonight at around 6:30, I got in the line to self-check-out. In a different self-checkout line was a mother with her young son, wheeling a full shopping cart filled with … napkins. I counted as the son slid the 180-count packages of Marcal napkins across the scanner and the total was 10. Ten packs of 180 napkins. Now, I don’t know how many people there are in their family, but based on what else was in their cart, I have to believe these two don’t run a small business or have a large family. So I ask, what do they need with 1,800 napkins? Perhaps they’ll use them to wipe up the case of iced tea bottles they bought. Or to clean their hands after preparing the ground beef they bought. Or maybe, just maybe, they’re having a really big party, or inviting all of Allston to dinner. I don’t know. Either way, it’s not like napkins don’t ever go on sale. I buy a package and it lasts for a few months. Sometime between now and when they finish, oh, let’s say the second package, I’m sure they’ll see the same ones on sale again. And also, if they were going to buy 10 packages of napkins — again, a total of 1,800 napkins — why didn’t they just go to Costco?

Of course, what was additionally funny was — well, take your pick. Was it watching the mother just stand there while her son scanned all the packages, never quite knowing where the UPC symbol was, even though it was in the same place on every single package(!!!) and then scrambling to put them into shopping bags even though they all couldn’t fit on the shelf? Or was it seeing this twosome leave the store, and struggle to carry all those napkins and the case of iced tea and the ground beef and all the other stuff they bought. I guess they hadn’t seen the pick-up option? (No, I didn’t laugh at the fact that these two were on a line that had a 15-item limit, and they clearly had more than 15 items.)

Shaw’s, that great big melting pot of age, culture, attractiveness, and intellect. When will the laughs end?

Is Summer Over Already?

19 Aug

Everyone has their favorite way of marking when seasons change. For example, does summer end on Labor Day? On September 1? On September 21? On Rosh Hashannah? When baseball season ends? When the Red Sox’ season ends? When football season begins? When the new TV season begins? Well, if you look around, you may see signs that summer is coming to a close are all around.

One of the biggest is that the gate to the parking lot at the Allston Shaw’s on Comm Ave. is now closed and you need to get a ticket before entering. When the college kids leave town, Shaw’s opens the gate permanently and laxes the restrictions on parking in the lot. But the gate going down means the students are returning. And sure enough, there were plenty of them all over Shaw’s Sunday night. Ugh. It means do your grocery shopping earlier (by all means, before 4pm on Sundays). It means the streets and the T are going to get more crowded. It means … summer is ending soon.

Another is my annual excursion with Dave and Scott (and their families) to Rye Playland and T.G.I. Friday’s. We started doing it back in 1992 before we (and five other friends) left for college, and we’ve made it a tradition to go sometime in August every year. This past Saturday we rode the Dragon Coaster and all the other rides for the 16th straight year. (Sixteen!) Amazing, I thought, that we’ve been going there that long and the park is basically exactly the same as it was when we first started going. It means people still enjoy an old-fashioned good time. It means Dave, Scott, and I are all still in touch. And it also means … summer is ending soon.

And then there’s the whole moving thing. My apartment building is emptying out. It’s largely because of the excessive increase in rent, and I’ve heard that come September 1, the place will only be about half full. That’s crazy. My across-the-hall neighbor is gone (bummer). My next-door neighbor (the loud one I don’t like) is gone (woo hoo!). Who knows who’s moving in (or when I’ll be moving out as well), but it means the place is going to be quieter for a little while. It means I have a better chance of doing my laundry whenever I want (for at least a couple weeks). It means soon there may be new people moving in — here and in other buildings all across the city. It means … summer is ending soon.

But living in Boston, I choose to go with the Head of the Charles as my marker for the end of summer. After all, the season starts late so it should end late too, and while the temperatures do get cooler in late September and early October, there’s always at least one weekend where we get a last gasp of warm weather. It means there’s still plenty to look forward to. It means there’s no need to worry. It means … summer isn’t ending just yet.

I Saw That

17 Jun

To the guy in the grey shirt and khaki shorts in the “baking needs” aisle at the Allston Shaw’s late this afternoon who thought no one was looking when he started to do the Macarena when the song came on the PA system … I just wanted to say, nice job. It was pretty funny. Who knew people still knew how to do that one?

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