Happy New Year, and a million apologies for totally slacking off and avoiding my computer over the holidays.
I spent two busy, fun weeks in the U.S., visiting my brother in Connecticut (home of the quirky, Disneyesque Stew Leonard’s supermarket – see photo at top of post), my parents in New Hampshire (currently the home of every Presidential Hopeful), and my in-laws in Palm Beach County, Florida (home of all NY/NJ snowbirds).
In addition to feeling back at home with friends and family, I loved how cheap, convenient, and varied all consumer goods are. And I’m not just saying that because the Pound Sterling continues to clobber the Dollar. More than other nationalities I’ve encountered, Americans demand and embrace getting a “deal” when they shop.
I walked into a regular supermarket in upscale Connecticut, and not only were the aisles wide, neat and fully stocked, but also I was greeted by a rainbow display of cheap and cheerful goodies entitled “The Wall of Values.” Try pulling one of those stunts in England, and watch just how quickly shoppers run away in embarrassment.
And even in my tired, straight-off-the-plane state, I couldn’t resist a trip to Costco on my first night back in the U.S.. To me, nothing represents better the best and worst of American retail: Sure, it’s a big-box architectural blight and there’s no expert staff on hand, but I dare you to find better prices on Veuve Clicquot and Terra Chips.
Basically, whenever I went shopping, I kept thinking of George Gershwin’s Summertime: “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy . . . .”