Whole Foods newest Massachusetts location opened in my little corner of the world last month. As I observed the construction, it reminded me of my pre-baby, pre-recession days when I would shop lazily for myself at the grocery store, picking out the most expensive cheeses and crackers that cost more than my electric bill. It was a wistful but depressing memory, as I remembered that I was now a mom living in a down economy who could no longer enjoy these sorts of grocery delights.
My depression be damned, when the store opened I decided to swing by just to see (I told myself) how the other-half would be living. When I got there with my cranky, hungry toddler I thought I would just run in the door. But, I soon found myself strolling through the aisles as if in an out-of-body experience. I found my way through the make-your-own granola corner, on to the beer and wine section (with its own sommelier), and into the cheese room. They had a cheese ROOM. I think that is when I must have passed out.
I was on overload. Everything looked so good, my daughter was chowing down free samples of everything from salmon to sorbet (neither of which she will touch at home) and I was in my happy place. For a minute… until the guilt hit. I shouldn’t be shopping here. I shouldn’t be enjoying this. I need to be stressed about money and fumbling with coupons and rushing through the store. THAT is how a mom grocery shops these days!
Later, at home, as the glow of foodie-utopia wore off, I got to thinking about it. We rarely go out to dinner anymore; we don’t even go out on dates anymore. Dinner time is the only time I am able to relax and connect with my family. The meals we share and the food my family eats have earned a new level of importance. The time spent around the dinner table is a new and vital source of entertainment for our family. So why can’t I allow the grocery store experience to be an extension of that entertainment? Sure, it will sound sad to the non-moms out there; I mean grocery shopping as a form of entertainment? Is your life that lame? But believe me sister, a good trip to the grocery store is a pretty satisfying experience.
So, I am rediscovering and redefining my love for my favorite grocer. Are you? According to an American Express study, about one-half of consumers who said they expect to spend more in the coming year said they plan to increase their spending on groceries. (Source: American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, September 2009). So I speak for all the grocery shoppers out there when I ask food retailers: How are you going to help me reignite the love I lost when things went to hell? I spend a lot of money and time in your stores; can you help me feel good about it again?