As I write about Reston from my perspective of the North Carolina coast, I try to compare shopping in Reston to the way we treat our grocery stores during the summer tourist season.
We try to make the bulk of our purchases from Monday until Thursday. With absentee owners streaming in on Fridays, and tourists checking into their homes on Saturday and Sunday, the grocery stores look like locusts have been in them on those days.
We are lucky because of the summer population surge, we have four large supermarkets, two Food Lions, one Lowes, and a Piggy Wiggly all within about five miles. Even in the worst traffic you could be at any of them in about ten minutes which should tell you that our traffic never gets very bad.
We also just got a new Harris Teeter in Morehead City about twenty minutes away. In that same area there is also a Walmart grocery store there. With the tourists gone our grocery stores are uncrowded almost all of the time. In fact some of us are worried that the new Harris Teeter might not be getting enough business to hang around.
It is always a pleasure to have the great variety of vegetables and fruits that larger stores like Harris Teeter bring. When a grocery store leaves, there is some sense of loss. I know the Ukrop's Store in Roanoke, Va is closing this October. Roanoke is a Kroger town with only a few Food Lions and on Fresh Market to help the few independents out. But some of us will Ukrop's. We bought most of our Thanksgiving dinner there last year.
I do not think Northern Virginia has a problem with grocery store variety with places like Wegman's in the background, but I do know that quick local access is a problem. Going to the grocery and being back home in fifteen minutes is probably a bigger challenge than it is here on the Carolina coast or in Roanoke where you are never very far from a Kroger.
As the days get shorter, my memories turn to the days when we lived in Canada. Just getting to a grocery store often meant a thirty minute drive in good weather. It was typical to only go to the store once a week. In winter snow storms, going to the grocery store just did not happen. When we first lived in Canada in the early seventies there were no large supermarkets in the rural part of Nova Scotia. Fruit and fresh vegetables were a challenge in the winter. Even when we moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1984, grocery stores closed at 6 PM on Saturday and were closed all day on Sunday.
This morning I read a story in the Toronto Star about the challenge of buying groceries in Canada's far north. After reading about milk costing almost nine dollars per half gallon, I guess I am not going to worry too much about losing a grocery store here or there. I think we are covered pretty well, though I will miss the Ukrop's bakery on my trips to Roanoke.
I never became a El Supermercado shopper so if in truth it is disappearing, it will happen without me ever having visited.
It is a beautiful day on the coast of North Carolina so I am going to take my own advice "Carpe Beach Diem."