Monday, July 23, 2007
New to the Hood - RALPHS!
Holy Crap! If you visited Ralph's anytime this week (and weren't a downtown resident) you might have been perplexed by your fellow shoppers. People staring at fresh fish, meat, cheese, wine, and of course produce as if they had NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE. If on the other hand you are a resident of downtown and traveled to the NEW RALPH'S you were among the teary-eyed shoppers. I was and I overheard at least a dozen conversations among shoppers and employees about the wondrousness of our latest edition. Those of us with a conscience were also relieved that our new store wasn't enduring a labor strike as we wouldn't have crossed a picket line - even for fancy cheese. It's been a half century according to the 43!!!! articles I found online about the event since downtown Los Angeles had a grocery store and about time.
Let me be the first to say, I am no fan of chain stores or box stores and if the grocery business was any different I'd be shopping at my local independent store. Unfortunately those days seem to be numbered and in light of that, when we decided on Friday night at 9PM to hit Ralph's it was a bit of an adrenaline rush. We were stunned to find not just a new grocery store but a pretty top-of-the-line shop with a cheese section that borrows substantially from the Whole Foods cornucopia of fancy cheese, an enormous wine selection and a massive produce section with more exotic vegetables than the standard Ralph's. Up until now we've pieced it together with Mitsuwa, convenience stores and for the rest shopping on the way home from work, or at the farmer's market. But sometimes it's 8 o'clock, Mitsuwa's closed and the idea of driving 15-20 minutes to 3rd & Vermont feels like a haul and it feels all a bit isolating.
So I say, Amen. For those of us who have lived downtown without such convenience, I think we can feel a little validated. We've been telling everyone we can for months or years that yes downtown is a great place to live, and it's not your dad's Downtown, it's on the move, there's lots to do, amazing community, lots of dogs and finally when my friends say - "yeah but where do you shop?" I can say, "at my neighborhood grocery store thank you very much."