If you’re reading this from a location outside of metropolitan St. Louis, it’s probable that you cringed at my title. It’s all sorts of incorrect. I know this. But if your location is within St. Louis, specifically within St. Louis City, you know what this means. You’ve been hearing dropped words and sentences that end in prepositions forever. You’ll also be familiar with the content of this post, so for all of my non-St. Louis readers, I apologize for this having barely anything to do with you at all.
As St. Louisans, we have three major grocery store chains from which to choose.* I am normally a Schnuck’s customer, but tonight I went to Dierberg’s to buy my grandmother a gift card. It’s the only thing I can think of that she won’t sneer at and say “Now what am I supposed to do with this?” I don’t know, Grandma, consider it a substitute for my love? Because that attitude sure isn’t going to make me call you any more frequently.
Choosing a grocery store is a lot like choosing other things: location, selection, overall convenience factor. But there are a few exclusive qualities held by our three major grocery stores, ones St. Louisans will recognize and any out-of-towners who are (for some fucking reason) planning on moving to St. Louis might want to know.
Dierberg’s: Located (I think) exclusively in suburban areas, this is the wealthiest of the three major grocery stores.** Their items are a bit more expensive than the other three, but I have noticed a lot of old people there (including my grandma, who refuses to shop anywhere else), which leads me to believe their coupon offers are probably top notch. I don’t go to Dierberg’s very often because I live in the city where there aren’t any, but if I lived next to one, I would certainly take a look at their ad circular.
At Dierberg’s, you’ll find a normal selection stocked by nicer-than-usual employees. This is especially true of the cashiers and baggers, who are very good at forming words to make full sentences and directing them at a space that is on your actual person. This is in stark contrast to many of the employees at, say, Schnucks at Grand and Gravois, which seems to be staffed by grunting, slow-moving mutants. In addition to being polite, the baggers are exceptionally talented at – I know – bagging groceries. The girl who bagged my stuff earlier tonight put into three bags what the average kid at Schnucks would have fit into seven, two of which would rip in the parking lot and cause me to be heckled by an elderly Bosnian man making kissing noises in my direction.
(I normally use a cloth grocery bag, but the other night I complained about this awful hippie bitch who held up the checkout line for 16 minutes to haggle over a single coupon. Everyone had a good laugh after she left, but then my bag tore from the handle all the way down to the middle, rendering the bag unusable. Clearly, she got me with her crunchy witch magic.)
Schnucks: The middle-of-the-road grocery choice and my regular store. The best thing about Schnucks is that its selection is determined mostly by the neighborhood. For example, the store I go to is at I-55 and Loughborough, where there are enough non-white and non-American people to ensure that I won’t be stuck buying chicken breasts and pre-made mashed potatoes every day. The store on The Hill has a pretty gorgeously-stock Italian section, and the store at Hampton Village is very comfortable for upwardly mobile white people who seem to spend more in the floral department than on food. Their prices are reasonable even when things aren’t on sale and I can almost always remember which ones are open 24 hours.
The worst thing about Schnucks is also based on neighborhood. While the Schnucks near my house is mostly staffed by competent individuals (save for the lazy teenaged idiots who I’ve learned to shoo away when they attempt to mutilate plastic bags with my groceries), the Schnucks at Grand and Gravois is abysmal. I don’t care that it might make more sense to go there on my way home from Graham’s. Whatever gas mileage I save is outmatched by the total ignorance and hostility of their employees, not to mention customers. And if I want to get stared at by mouth-breathing, people-shaped piles for an hour, I’ll go to…
Shop N’ Save: I detest Shop N’ Save. My grandfather used to love it because the Old Crow and cigarettes were right next to the lottery tickets. He once tricked me into going there by claiming he had to buy a birthday card for my dad. When we walked in, he pulled out a list as long as my arm that included, like, a dozen cans of baked beans. Then he yelled at some kid for sitting at the blood pressure machine and told him not to sass back because he was a Korean War veteran.
So anyway, I loathe Shop N’ Save. Well, mostly. The ones in the suburbs are okay, but the ones in the city (especially at Chippewa and Kingshighway, where I half-suspect there to be cockfights in the parking lot at 4am because why not) make me want to douse myself in Purell and then, maybe for good measure, burn off the germs with a blowtorch. It’s not even that much cheaper. Trust me, I went there in a panic when I got laid off. An old Chinese lady elbowed me out of her way and I didn’t save a ton of money, even though the produce looks like it fell off a truck, everything is stacked on the shelves in cardboard boxes, and you’re as likely to trip over a puking hobo as you are to find that the stocks of ramen noodles and diapers have been – again, as always – ransacked.***
I feel like a traitor to my class for saying this, but you know how there are poor people who are just poor, and there are poor people who are also hostile? Shop N’ Save customers are poor and hostile. They’re the people who feel they’re somehow owed everyone else’s time, so they walk as slowly as possible across the middle of every single fucking parking lot lane and refuse to move their cart over to the side when stopped in an aisle, even after looking you in the eye and hearing you say “pardon me.” Possibly this is my fault, and the Hostile Poor don’t understand “pardon me.” I should probably start saying “‘Scuse me, motherfucker!” That might work. I hate the Hostile Poor not because they’re poor, but because they use being poor as an excuse to stay that way. Which again, I have no problem with if that’s what they want, but they don’t want that, and it’s never their fault they’re poor, it’s everyone else’s, and because of that, everyone else owes them a favor. Asshole, I don’t owe you anything. I’ve been poor, okay? I’ve lived on brown rice and broccoli for months (not great for the colon, but it’s probably the third best diet in the world after mono and heartbreak). When I decided that I didn’t want to be poor anymore, I worked harder and longer until I was less poor. I’m certainly not rich by any means, but I’m also not combining my EBT card, my unemployment check, and a sketchy money order to buy 6 bottles of RC Cola and a shitload of Hot Pockets.
Also I’m still mad at the Kingshighway Shop N’ Save for getting rid of their beer cave. That thing was so scary and cool.
* There are Other Stores; in general, there are rich stores and poor stores. I don’t go to the rich stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Straubs) very often because pretending to have that kind of money is a hassle. I don’t go to the poor stores (Save-A-Lot, Aldi) ever because again, I live in the city. I’ve heard some Aldi locations are cool, but the one near my house is filthy and terrifying, and any place that asks me to put a deposit down on a cart is an asshole.
** I mean on the whole; obviously the new(ish) Des Peres Schnucks is, like it’s neighborhood, crazy wealthy. They have a cheese room, people! A CHEESE ROOM.
*** This happens at the international store, too (minus the ransacking of the ramen and diapers, because they have a wall of ramen there and I’ve never seen any diapers at all), but I like going there because the packaging is cool, it’s cheap, and I sort of like the smell of fish sauce.