Old Town/New Town: Grocery Shopping 101

Jerry Schuster  |   Wednesday Apr. 1st, 2015

Last time I told you that I would not mention again that my wife and I moved from Wolf Point to Bozeman for “semi-retirement.” Therefore, just ignore this opening paragraph if you remember that from last time. If you do remember, please skip to paragraph three.

Anyway, we moved from Wolf Point “old town” to Bozeman “new town.” There have been some noticeable surprises in the transition. One of them is grocery shopping.

For those of you who just joined us again, having skipped paragraph two, we can begin today’s topic, which is grocery shopping. Yes, I said grocery shopping and this is not a boring topic so don’t go read something else. If you stop reading now, you will regret it later, because you will miss all the fun.

In old town, grocery shopping is pretty easy and straight forward. Fact is, there is only one grocery store and when you shop in town (“shop locally, please”) that is where you go.

Thing is, most shoppers in old town, including myself, shop the “specials” each week. The Herald News (local weekly) comes out in mid-week complete with the ads for the “specials.” Now, here’s the gist of it all, but you have to promise to keep this to yourself. I wouldn’t want this known to the general public if you know what I mean. Okay, now that this is secure, well, in old town and small town Montana in general, most folks eat the same basic food items each week. Yep. We go to the one store in town and naturally pick up the same items to eat that week – the “specials.”

A conversation around the neighborhood in old town goes like this:

Me to neighbor Steve – So Steve, I see you’re grilling those nice steaks. – What kind?

Steve – sirloins, the specials.

Me – Oh, that’s what we are having tonight also.

Steve – Yep, so is June next door. And Al and …etc. (on down the list of neighbors…)

Me – Actually, I can detect an aura of grilling sirloin in the air.

Steve – Yep. Heard they sold out in one day, so we will all be grilling sirloin this weekend.

Me – Yep.
Me – Whatcha doing for veggies?

Steve – grilling the broccoli that was on special this week.

Me – I was going to steam mine.

Steve – Don’t go there. Nobody else is steaming it, just grilling.

Me – Will do.

Now, fast forward to new town. Since I enjoy cooking, it seems I do a lot of the grocery shopping for our household. Of course for our first few months here we “ate out” because we couldn’t find the kitchen stove amid all the boxes.

Anyway, now with all this selection of stores and choices in new town, here is a typical encounter at a super-super market:

Me, at produce section, speaking with person stocking veggies…

She - good morning, welcome to (name of store…bleep, bleep). Can I help you find something?

Me -  facetiously, well, I’m looking for my identity and the secret to happiness in life…

She – (…no comment, no laughter, just obtuse, strange look.)

Me - Actually, I’m looking for some lettuce.

She - Okay, go to aisle XIII, subsection 24 (a) (iii) and follow the signs. We have the following varieties of lettuce today: a nice, organic, clean soil looseleaf, either red or green oak, or new shade of purple; or in the butterheads, we have a beautiful Santoro from the Spurnleaf farms in Napa Valley, heavenly blushed, with a hint of raspberry in tips; or did I mention our Breen-Romaine, flown in from Australia, picked this morning, only one per customer, but probably not within your price point…

Me - Thanks, I was actually looking for a head of iceberg lettuce for BLT’s for this evening.

She - Oh, we don’t carry iceberg head lettuce, but could “special order” something in your price point; approximately six weeks delivery time…

Me – Forget the lettuce, guess we’ll just have sloppy Joes…For future reference, where are the tomatoes?

She - Aisle  XV, subsection 64 (c) (ii) and follow the signs; now we have…

Me - Thanks, sorry to interrupt but I’ve already spent most of my vacation time here looking for the lettuce, but you have a nice day.

I had a similar experience in the meat, dairy and baked goods departments. Came home two days later and found out my wife had called the local police and filed a “missing person” report. They did good work, having located me via “GPS” in the bakery department, gluten-free “donut hole samples” section, Aisle IX, subsection 7 (d) (iv).

Anyway, shopping in new town is certainly an epic adventure. I now bring a “sack lunch” to get by in case I get delayed in the “organic, vegan, no GMO” section of Aisle IV. Sure love the selection, but glad I’m “semi-retired” so there is ample time to shop.   

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