Sunday, November 07, 2010

Things I will miss when it's time to head home, part the first

I love my home.  I say that a lot, and I mean it.  A lot.

Happily, I love it here, too; I'm going to miss several things about living here.  Rather than wait for a comprehensive list to spring from my mind to the keyboard and emerge from these hallowed intertubes crafted, complete and suitably comical for your brief amusement, I figure I'll just post stuff as it occurs to me.

Pause, sip, savor... mmm.  Here's what occurs to me first:

I will miss being able to buy wine in grocery stores.  They even sell it at Rite Aid here, fer cryin' out loud.  Not just the cheap stuff, either, although particularly for wine, even very good ones are much less expensive than at home... by half, in some cases.  And cases are what I should be buying, because I'll be back in the land of overpriced "package stores" (= liquor stores.  It's a New England thing) before Paul Giamatti can holler "we are NOT drinking Merlot!"  (What did he mean by that?  I love Merlot.)

A while back there was a ballot question in Massachusetts about allowing supermarkets to sell beer and wine.  I honestly can't remember how I voted on it; I do like the idea for its convenience, but I think in the end I was concerned that losing grocery store shelf space to beer and wine would make for fewer choices in the food aisles, which are largely full of mainstream junk as it is.  The bigger worry for most people (well, maybe for less selfish people) was what effect (not "impact," goddammit) it would have on the folks who own package stores, who wouldn't be able to compete with prices the big grocery store companies could set. 

I don't know how that plays out in places like this.  There are wine shops here practically adjacent to supermarkets that sell wine, and neither seems to be suffering for it, but I really don't know.  I think that at home, unless being able to sell beer and wine would result in the food stores immediately adding square footage, my concern about allocation of shelf space is valid.  Grocery stores here are freakin' huge (about which more later).  Wine shops are nice for getting advice and discovering new things, but to stock up on familiar wines, I want to go where they're least expensive.  Here in my home-away-from-home, that means one-stop shopping.  Bread, milk, eggs, peanut butter, bananas, Pinot Noir, IPA.  Cool. 

The Massachusetts ballot question failed, so for better or worse, package stores will remain for the foreseeable future.  In my home town of some 23,000 people, I can think of at least ten stores that sell wine; probably there are more.  My favorite (I would link to it, but its home page appears to have been designed by used car salesmen) has a good sale on the first and third Thursday of the month.  Even so, I'm in for some sticker shock on my return.

Do you think it's a good idea for supermarkets to be able to sell beer and wine?  How does it work in your neck of the woods?