Friday, August 13, 2010

Grand Mart

A "blue runner" purchased at Grand Mart
We used to have a Giant supermarket in our neighborhood. No more. The corporate fathers decided that our Giant was not profitable, so they closed it. We now have to drive three miles to downtown Laurel to the other Giant, which has a dangerous, hanky-sized parking lot.

Soon huge floral arrangements appeared on the sidewalk outside the abandoned store. Grand Mart was open for business. And a fine, albeit strange, store it is. Although Grand Mart appears to be owned by Koreans, over half the aisles are devoted to Latino foods and many of the cashiers are Hispanic.

The vegetables are, well, different. My husband, an adventurous eater, will try anything once. He buys something, often asking another customer, if he can find one who speaks English, to tell him what to do with the thing. If he can't find anyone, he'll bring it home and look it up in his book, Exotic Fruits and Vegetables. We've decided we don't care for jack fruit and that coconuts are too difficult to mess with.

Little stalls line the perimeter of the store. You can buy almost anything: kitchenware, underwear, bathing suits, shoes, watches, rice cookers, teapots. There's a bakery and a Korean/Chinese carry-out, owned by Mr. Sweet, who usually looks sour and grumpy. Mr. Sweet sells  noodles, vegetarian sushi, "shredded squids" and several varieties of kimchee every day of the week.  A sign advises: "No Chines Food on Wednesday!"

Other signs also mystify and delight. A month or two after Grand Mart opened, a sign appeared on the front door: "Special-move the tofu to the dairy section." Another sign still warns, "No flip-flop. No pet." My 7-year-old grandson spotted a customer leaving the store in the forbidden footwear. "Hey!" he yelled, helpfully, "She's wearing flip-flops!" Yesterday, a new sign has appeared---in fact, about 2 dozen identical signs were posted on the plate-glass window and in the entryway--offering a "$100 reward". It pictures the alleged shoplifter wheeling his cart brazenly out of the store. Some innocent shoppers are also caught in the camera's eye. The "perp's" head is haloed so that everyone knows who the bad guy is.  No other information is given, such as what you have to do to collect the reward.

My grandson loves Grand Mart's huge seafood section, with its tray upon tray of whole fish.   One day, he begged me to buy him a "blue runner" to take home. He wanted to cut it up himself, with Grandpa's help. The non-English-speaking man behind the counter offered to clean it, of course, but I said, "No, thanks. We'll take it home as is." Too many words. He looked puzzled. I said, "No clean." Still looking somewhat mystified, he nodded and wrapped it up. Once we got it home, Andrew and Grandpa slowly dissected it, both marveling at the  intricacies of fins, guts and gills. Then we baked it and minced it to order for Her Majesty, Georgina, the Cat of Cats.


the sandwich life said...

oh, you are VERY good grandparents!

Lena said...

That is one lucky cat!

Debra said...

I tend to love to visit unusual stores and this certainly sounds like it qualifies. When we visited our son and his family in Okinawa a few years ago there were many strange stores and unusual items for sale.

Love the name too. Maybe you could post some pictures sometime of this store. I would enjoy seeing them.

Have a great day!