Food, glorious food!

I walk a half-mile from my house in suburban New Jersey to the train each morning and then three blocks from Penn Station to our plush Chelsea corporate headquarters. It is a pretty mundane walk, but over the past year it has become more delicious. For starters, last fall a Walgreens opened on my corner, replacing an abandoned Exxon station.

Prior to Walgreens opening if I needed milk I would have to walk seven blocks west to the Quick Chek or hop in the car and drive to A&P, Seabra’s or ShopRite. But Walgreens has become very handy for emergency out-of-stocks, like a half-gallon of milk or loaf of bread. They also occasionally have some pretty good deals on grocery products – if they have them in stock – like instant coffee, canned mushrooms and private label gelatin mix. They are also giving competition to the CVS two blocks east, which doesn’t sell milk because of a lease-clause with the Blimpie convenience store/sub sandwich shop in the same mini shopping plaza.

About a month ago, a 7-Eleven opened up directly across the street from CVS and Blimpie in what had been a long-abandoned Jiffy Lube. I bought milk in there on the way home one day and found the price – $1.99 a quart – rather expensive. I have yet to buy a sandwich for lunch because they are all pre-packaged and I find Quick Chek sells pretty good subs that are made fresh to order.

It bothers me that my town fathers allowed the 7-Eleven to open directly across the street from an existing mom & pop convenience store so I am trying not to patronize them. Within the past year about five of these 7-Elevens have cropped up in town, mostly taking over abandoned gas station buildings.

On the tail end of my commute the food scene is also heating up. Within the past year along the three block stretch of Seventh Avenue several restaurant options have opened. There is a Five Guys, Hale and Hearty Soup and Mexicue Barbecue joint on the next block that are all relatively new. Directly across the street from them a costume jewelry store that closed up is being replaced by a soft-serve yogurt shop.

In our own building, the existing Guy & Gallard coffee and sandwich shop expanded into an adjoining storefront and opened up a Café, while a fabric store that just lost its lease is being replaced with a Potbelly Sandwich Shop.

That is all fine and good, but remember each restaurant meal equates to one less meal component purchased at the supermarket. There is an old Chinese expression “death by a thousand paper cuts.” Supermarket operators can protect themselves from this affliction by stocking up on Band Aid brand bandages and Bactine. Just be sure to buy them at CVS. If you use your ExtraCare card you’ll get a $1.00 ExtraCare Bucks Reward good towards any future purchase (excluding prescriptions, tobacco, lottery, alcohol, previously reduced, sale, clearance and other items prohibited by law). That’s a pretty good deal!

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