In search of small grocery stores


Adapted from Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

Did the now-settled strike at Dutch-owned Stop & Shop permanently boost business at New England-based supermarket chains, such as Shaw’s, Market Basket and Dave’s Marketplace? And how much at the few remaining small grocery stores?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more of the latter, places – better than 7-Elevens -- that you could nip into and buy small quantities of stuff? Yes, small grocery stores’ items are more expensive than those in the big supermarkets, with their efficiencies of scale, but faster and more pleasant. (Reminds me of Benny’s vs. Home Depot.) I think that New England towns and cities would be considerably more agreeable if we had more of those little grocery-and-other-stuff stores you see in New York City that we often called “Korean markets’’ when I lived there because so many were owned by Korean-American, or bodegas, with their Latin American focus. Very handy.

All this reminds me of the store called simply “Central Market,’’ in the small downtown of the village I lived I as a boy. The smells of ground coffee, (overripe?) fruit, fish, some of it perhaps just brought in from the nearby harbor, and other goods were rich, and the floor was covered with sawdust, which wouldn’t pass an OSHA inspection now. Eventually a big A&P supermarket went up on the edge of town, closer to a new superhighway (that all too soon became a long parking lot in rush hours). The owners of Central Market couldn’t compete and so the store was eventually shut down. So now there was no grocery store we could walk or bike to. Another triumph for the car culture.