The major grocery store chain here in Texas is called H.E.B. To every grade schooler's delight, those initials stand for Howard Edward Butt - a grocer with a very unfortunate name who's tiny store (which began in Kerrville, TX in 1905) morphed into a huge corporation that most Texans rely on.
Back in the 90's, HEB began converting some of their stores into super duper upscale yuppie marts and renamed them Central Market. The HEB near my grandma's house in San Antonio was one of the first to get converted, and we heard her complain about it to no end. Gamboo had no need for organic monkey-picked $12 sugar, no thank you. Her next closest HEB was grimy and horribly stocked, and she had to drive to a third HEB, which was kinda fancy but still stocked regular sugar. They were renamed: The Gucci-Bee (Central Market), The Wanna-Bee (far away HEB), and the Sleazy-Bee (the ghetto fab HEB).
Here in Austin, those names live on. My closest HEB (corner of Burnet and Koenig) is terrible, with fruit flies hovering over the grapes and nothing even close to shallots or white asparagus. It's the Sleazy-Bee. When I am in need of normal grocery items like cat food or toilet paper, I head to the Wanna-Be near the UT campus where I shop among the Kappa Kappa Gamma girls, whose carts are filled with Diet Coke and Lean Cuisines.
When I need my monkey-picked $12 sugar, I head to the Gucci-Be. I actually have fun shopping here. Like today, major excitement! Jazz Apples are back!! Hot damn, I love these things. I have seriously screamed with delight every time I see them return. And they've also been carrying peaches from Fredericksburg, TX, which are the best peaches I've had in a long time. Cantelopes, 2 for a dollar?! Asparagus bunches for $1.99?! 4 ears of corn for $2.00?! Man, I love summer produce.
People have often asked me if I miss Trader Joes from when I moved from California. Heck no, I've got my Gucci-Bee to keep me happy.
Labels: Food, services, shopping