Shopping With the Upper Crust

I don't know where this store is, but I can tell I can't afford anything in it.
I may have to stop saying “grocery store” and start saying “market.” I may have to stop saying, “I’m going grocery shopping” and start saying, “I will now select our week's delicacies” in an affected, 1940s starlet accent. Because my grocery store is so hip that it deserves to be in a higher class than your basic Giant Eagle.

After moving to San Francisco a few months ago, I tried to fall back on my old, suburban grocery shopping technique: Driving an SUV to a huge parking lot, walking into a huge store with the word Super in italics next to its name, getting a huge cart full of super-sized store-brand, nonorganic foods full of trans-fat that were on sale, having the bag boy fill about 300 plastic bags with 1-2 items each, pack it all into my trunk, and take it home.

That doesn’t fly here.

First, there are no plastic bags. They exist, but you have to buy them. California requires retail outlets to charge for bags. It’s only 10 cents per, but human nature is such that even the Howells would shlep ratty reusable bags to save a dime.

Second, there are no SUVs. Well, there are, but only black ones that I suspect have Obama inside. Also there is little to no parking in most grocery stores around here, so even if you decide to take your Prius to the store, (if you live here you know you have one) you may have to search for parking. And validating is so not done.

So being new to the city, I tried a couple things. First, I tried ordering groceries online from Walmart and having them delivered once a week. Overwhelmed with the almost limitless offerings, I started ordering office supplies, planters for the deck, and light furniture. I was poised to do my Christmas shopping along with my grocery shopping around the time that the overweight and underpaid delivery guy almost had a stroke bringing two baskets of groceries and a desk up my stairs. I suddenly realized that I was acting like Howard Hughes and I snapped out of it. Heady times, though. Heady times . . .

I also tried buying food from the little bodega across the street. But eventually I ran out of the kids’ college money and our retirement funds and had to stop that spendfest.

I had grand plans to do piecemeal shopping from high-end-but-folksy bread, meat and vegetable markets in three different neighborhoods. But I think you all know me well enough by now to know how far I went with that.

None of it was working until I found my hip grocery store in the Marina. There’s a parking lot, so I can drive there. But this place is full of trendy foods like crusty bread you could use as a hockey stick, 34 varieties of mushrooms, and cheese that costs as much as a pair of Clark shoes. 

But the hippest things about my grocery store are the shoppers. When I shop on Saturday mornings, the place is full of early-20-somethings.  (They’ve got to be techies; how else could they afford that $30 bottle of wine?) They look like they stepped out of the Abercrombie catalog. Their arms are full of imported beer, large quantities of buns, bags of ice, and the aforementioned wine. I’m thinking Carbfest on the Bay.

Lately, there’s a new crowd: Rich guys with New Zealand accents, wearing big old Rolexes, popped collars on their polo shirts, and big wads of C-notes. Yes, my new hip grocery store is near the America’s Cup viewing area, as well as the docks where I presume these guys get on their big corporate boats to watch the races from the water. I can tell you for a fact that they’re loading up those boats with Australian wine, Dom Perignon, and Twizzlers.


I’m still the only one buying dog food and Swiffer refills. But by god, someone's got to do it.

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