Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Walls Come Tumbling Down

My great frustration with the imminent closing of our neighborhood Save Mart is that it is the last traditional grocery store in the neighborhood. I stop in periodically to watch the closing down process. Old-timer employees run foot races down the spaces once filled with revenue earning tables of produce and baked goods. They are piece by piece closing down all of the functions of the store.

My room mate, Michael has been riding down to Save Mart daily for years, and his weekly routine has involved knowing the workers, haggling to reduce prices on late date produce, and memorizing the sales in the weekly supplement. Our home has enjoyed many a meal selected from the recipes they include each week.

So, he looks to me, and says, "Save Mart is looking like a ghost town." Of course, as the clock is ticking, I just watch the disassembly, and wait for the good deals. I pull discounted merchandise off the shelf; the employees nearby work quickly to take nonselling items off the shelves and into boxes to ship away. As a retailer, I remember many a manager telling me, "i do not want to see any holes on that wall." I have to believe that for anyone working years in the world of grocery, that nothing is more unnatural than preparing a store to close. Employees have to work in a manner contrary to years of training.

Recently, I watched the movie The Langoliers. In it, people land a plane in an airport where time has passed by. Food lost its taste, and clocks have all stopped, and this mechanical noise increase, as the passengers of this lost plane await the arrival of the Langoliers. No one knows what they are, but by they arrive, it is clear that these machines (or monsters) are the ones that come through, and destroy the past, after that time where the present has lapsed into the past. The plane barely takes off as the Langoliers chew cavernous holes in the tarmac.

I wonder if this closing is not like the Langoliers. These machines are eating everything. and my friend looks to me, and says it looks sad. He hates Wal-Mart, and I don't blame him. Still, our neighborhood continues to provide for all our needs. If I want to go to a real grocery store, I will have to climb on a bus.

It would be silly to get sad. This is a grocery store that opened as a Fry's over 40 years ago. Apparently its time has come. As a union grocer, I was taught the evils of Wal-Mart. I do not believe they are evil. But, entering that box, filled with inadequately paid employees, I just feel the chaos. But, I still comb their aisles, and sometimes, I shop. One day, the Langoliers will come for their store, too.


Santa Cruz Nick said...

May the Langoliers come sooner than later for Wal-Mart, a place where I refuse to shop because their overly sugary commercials give me the diabetes, plus the closest one is miles away. There's been an overall effort lately to blame our financial woes on unions and workers engaging in collective bargaining, but it wasn't workers who tanked the economy with the financial crisis and then were rewarded with a massive taxpayer bailout, nor were they responsible for that oil rig blowing up in the Gulf.
It's the usual divide and conquer in which the masses are coaxed into fighting amongst each other as the elites laugh all the way to their offshore, tax-free bank accounts.
Principal vs. convenience, the dilemma of our day.

Keith said...

Ah, C'mon Nick. Yer ruining my high. Gov. Chris Christie has shown me the true path. Years ago, I thought my shopping dollar counted as I searched for independent coffee houses, independent bookstores, well-run, union based retail stores.

There are many windmills to attack, Nick, and because of current Exxon-Mobil ad campaigns, attacking windmills is popular!

I've read Stiglitz, Friedman, Thomas Frank, and Matt Taibii. I am pages away from finishing The Assault on Reason by Al Gore. None offer me a true vision of hope.

Read Thomas Friedman. He explains why Wal-Mart is a good thing (Yikes!) I am sure that between the Dynasty Shopping Center, and the soon to open Vietnam Town, I will have many places to shop.

I'll keep posting