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Downtown Market, Uptight Shopper

People who don’t live downtown always assume you can’t shop for groceries down here. They all think our only option is the Dominick’s at Madison and Halsted, ’cause that’s all they see from the Kennedy. Truth is, I’m closer to more supermarkets down here than I ever was when I lived north of North…and closer to the more, um, interesting people who shop in them.

Besides Dominick’s at Madison and Halsted, we also have Jewel stores at Clark and Division, State and Grand, and Roosevelt and Wabash, and a Whole Foods at Huron and Dearborn. They’re all open until at least 10 (some 24 hours), and easily transit accessible. (As I also posted today, we don’t shop for food by car in downtown Chicago).

But the downtown residential scene is nothing if not monolithic. Different parts of the core host different groups of residents whose differences are laid bare by a tour of the clientele of our big five downtown supermarkets. With this in mind, I’ve been musing lately on the typology of downtown supermarket shoppers….

The Jewel Shopper I (Clark & Division, Wabash & Roosevelt)
All these damn newcomers are really starting to hock me off. Excuse me. Excuse me! I’m shopping here! Can you please get off your cell phone for a minute and move your cart? THANK you. Lactaid? Check. Zatarain’s? Check. Stew meat? Check. Bread? No, the whole grain kind without the transfat. Check. Library card? Chicago Card? Oh, here’s my Jewel Card…

The Jewel Shopper II (State & Grand)
This place is like, so totally boutique, I love it! Just what I though living in the city would be like. Oh look, there’s a homeless person running out the wheelchair door with a case of wine. That’s, like, so fucking cool! Man, I could even learn how to cook and shop here for real ingredients. How cool would that be? Chip? Hey, Chip! Man, welcome to the neighborhood, brother! When did you graduate?…

The Dominick’s Shopper (Madison & Halsted)
Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m shopping downtown. Why on earth did I move down here? This store is so small. There’s not even room for a full-sized Starbuck’s. Oh my God, are all these people real Chicagoans? They can’t have all walked here. If anyone talks to me I know I’m gonna cry, jusy cry, I swear. Where’s my cell phone? I hope I still have 911 on speed dial. Just how many more months do I have left on my Presidential Towers lease?…

The Whole Foods Shopper (Dearborn & Huron)
Don’t talk to me. Don’t make eye contact with me. Did I just run over you with my cart? I’m sorry, I didn’t notice you there without a six-figure income. The sign said these were eight-cents less, so can you please re-ring that? Are you sure you re-rang that right? Can I see a manager? Right away? Did I not just ask for a manager? I live across the street and shop here every day and I want a manager! Oh? Oh, I see. My mistake. Now where did I park…

Categories: Food and Drink LIFE

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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