Monday, March 31, 2008

ward 8's giant

last fall, a new giant grocery store opened in ward 8. there was a lot of fanfare, since this was the first full-service grocery store to be open for business in the ward since 1998.

almost 10 years without a grocery store! it's hard to believe, and it's a pretty terrible indictment of the entire community when you think about it. the businesses, the people, the one went above and beyond to make sure that people in the poorest and least-served part of the city had local access to food. FOOD! (and no, rap snacks don't count as food.) next to water, it's one of the obvious staples of existence (and wasa managed to convince a lot of us that they haven't been giving us access to decent water either).

anyway, after the initial flutter of attention, i never saw any of these journalists heading back to the "camp simms giant" to see if it was living up to its promise. after the first week, would the store still be getting fresh produce? would the shelves be stocked? or would the lack of attention from the outside world lead to this diamond in the community's eye losing its shine? i thought i'd go check it out and see.

i had time on saturday to burn in the morning, and i needed groceries, so i thought i'd head down that way to check things out. what i found should make everyone who uses the shaw giant excited and worried at the same time.

first of all, this was a suburban-style store. the huge sea of asphalt out front and the strip mall out front (in addition to other out-buildings under construction on site) make comparing it to the columbia heights giant or the future shaw giant a dicey proposition. but, the square footage is similar to what we've been promised in shaw.

the store inside is terrific. the produce is still fresh (better than what i usually see at the shaw store). the aisles are all well-stocked (better than the half-empty shelves i sometimes find in shaw). the store was sparkling clean. the shaw store is often really dirty. i know they're probably much busier that the ward 8 store, given the density in eastern ward 2, but if they know that, they should know what effort needs to be put into running the store.

the coolest things about the interior are the light and aisles. the aisles are much wider than the shaw or columbia heights stores. at least it feels that way. maybe it's just 5 or 6 extra inches, but if feels like you can move around there without bumping into people.

the lighting is the coolest thing about the whole store, though. there are dozens of large skylights in the roof, bathing the store in natural light. i'm sure it saves on electrical costs, and it gives the store an airy feel. i have no pictures of the inside of the store (because i figured i was weirding the employees out enough by walking around with my mouth agape), but trust me on this. you have to go just to see that, it's that cool!

make a trip down there and check it out for yourself. especially if you live in shaw. if this is the kind of store we can expect in the future, i think we'll be in good shape. i did say that we should be worried about something, though, and it's this: can giant deliver a store that nice and get the staffing right? i was happy for the workers to see that they've settled on a deal ahead of a possible strike. but, i hope that there are concessions in the deal that would lead to better attitude from the workers. say what you want about whole foods, but it sure as hell is nice to deal with workers who don't find it bothersome to check you out, or look for something that isn't on the shelf for you. i have had terrific help at giant stores, but that's been the exception, not the rule. it HAS to be the rule going forward though. the stores have to give a shit if they want us to keep shopping there!

driving directions from northwest DC: get to south capitol street, go across the bridge, and get on the suitland parkway. the second traffic light will be for stanton road. turn right there, go up the hill, past alabama avenue, and turn right on savannah street. the giant will be just ahead on the left (parking on the right).

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