Warning: I’m in a dirty rotten supermarket sort of mood.
A sad thing happened this week in our Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle: the dear little Metropolitan Market closed its doors. Let me say, Metropolitan Market was one of the reasons we moved here. We drew an area about six blocks around “The Ave” and confined our house hunt to that. The idea was to live where we would always walk to town, whatever the weather, and no matter how old we may grow to be. We had found our village in the city. “Why drive, when you can walk?” is our motto, and Metropolitan Market was central to our lifestyle.
Now I don’t know what is coming in, but I do know that recent development in town would have it that every block look the same. Metropolitan Market was different, mid-century architecture, impeccably kept, the staff most personable, produce you could trust to be organic (vs. the supermarket trick, or so I’ve heard, of replacing an empty organic bin with the other variety), and the foods they made, the soups, cioppino, sushi, Dungeness crab cakes, and bakery goods, splendid enough to go on the finest dining table. It was where we all placed our order for fresh turkeys every November, and could find quality kitchenware, chocolates, magazines, and even literary journals. Outside, a plant stand to rivel any street corner in Paris. Come to think about it, Metropolitan Market was our only local nursery too. Now I really am depressed.
Plus I have just come back from a very crowded Safeway where the music is sick, the loudspeakers are loud, the prepared food is fried and the like—although nobody eats like that except maybe the construction workers on their breaks (the ones who are tearing the town down). I don’t know who is employed at Safeway or where they come from, and as for the floral department, their way with plants is to dye phalaenopsis orchids blue.
I simply have to find a way around supermarkets. Something I can walk to, such as the bucolic farmers market on Thursdays. Come winter, move downtown and shop Pikes Market? Everything that is anything is so much further now and it’s time to go from carrying totes to using that cart I bought. A rainproof canvas shopping cart, bright red so cars can see me on gray days. I haven’t taken it out yet because I have some things to work out. My cart questions: do I push it or pull it? Do I push/pull it down the aisles and put the groceries I want to buy into my cart, and take them all out at the register, or will I look like I am shoplifting and be apprehended? Or should I fold up my cart and put it in the grocery’s shopping cart when I arrive?
Didn’t I know this would happen? A long time ago, after my first marriage fell apart, I lived in NYC for a year. I wish I could tell you it was marvelous: The Met! Lincoln Center! Central Park! But it wasn’t. Not that year. I was half crazy with a broken heart, and Central Park wasn’t even considered safe in the daytime. I don’t know if you could call it a phobia exactly, but I developed an irrational fear of bag ladies that year. Not a loathing, more of a trembling. An apprehension that it could happen to me. I knew that there had to be a story behind each and every one of these ladies, and my best guess was that some man had left her in the lurch. I am not sure if I ever got over this fear per se, but I up and moved to California. And now, here I am, thirty-something years later, further up the coast, and about to take up a cart myself. Didn’t I know it?
5 responses to “Goodbye to a Market”
I won’t go on a tirade about Capitalism, but it’s so sad when the quaint ‘simpler-way-of-life’ kind of places die, forcing people to get on board with larger, more soul sucking, chains. The unique locales make our country interesting, not the same identical store on every street. Crossing my fingers that something equally great replaces it and if that doesn’t happen, that you’ll find ways that work for you to adapt! Eloquent post .Thank you!
-Liza Wolff-Francis, Matrifocal Point
I share in your love of walking-access to shops and markets. We too moved to our home here in Atlanta so that we could walk to restaurants and shops and the like, and still have a nice neighborhood feel. I am despondent for you and your loss. More to the point, though, is I love how much ground you covered in this post, starting at a market’s closing, ending with thoughts of bag ladies, divorce and vulnerability.
Much to respond to but I’ll think I’ll start with your fear of bag ladies. I give myself some of the blame/credit for this fear. In my teens, I was prone to dressing up as different characters and going out and about. As you may recall, during that time, I followed you around a bus station, dressed as a “bag lady”. You were terrified. Sorry about that and about your beloved Market (which I visited last summer) closing. Love your sister, Beth
I always thought that the Metropolitan was a great model for all local grocery stores. We have two similar, neither as easy to get to but I am not sure what I would do without them. I cannot picture you as a ‘Bag’ lady as the title and the description don’t fit. As to your cart, I can honestly say I have never seen a cart inside a market but every area is a little different. I hope something wonderful happens to the now vacant space!
Kim, I loved going to the market too. It smelled so wonderful, everything looked so fresh and the outside plant arrangement was beautiful. So sorry to see it go.I still have the bags you gave me from there with the shoulder straps.
This was up there as one of my favorite posts that you have written.