Thursday, January 22, 2015

We Gonn Goo to Hyyy-veee

First it was the library and now a grocery store. Though, if I’m being completely accurate, the grocery store came first.

Between the two of them, they are now prime destinations for the boy — regularly requested and subsequently frequented.

In the three years that I’ve been operating in this space I’ve avoided schilling for, or giving the appearance of shilling for, any product, service or store.

Pronounced: Awe-some.
For this post, I’ll be forced to lift this sanction as the business of which I am about to speak is spectacular and all writing that follows is unequivocally an endorsement.

I speak of a grocery store. It’s name? Hy-Vee.

It's a weird compound of syllables (it's actually the first couple letters from each of the founders' surnames — Hyde & Vredenburg) and, for those of us who are familiar with it, it's spectacular. 

This love affair started because Hy-Vee has a hot counter where one can find Chinese food, amongst all manner of comfort food (including the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had) and a nice sit-down area in which to enjoy your meal. This is no small convenience when you're hauling a toddler around.

Which brings me to my next point. The boy loves the place to an absurd degree. 
As is his custom in visits to the store, the boy
uses the P.A. to express his gratitude to all.

To wit, I recently picked him up from day care and was strapping him into his seat. While doing so, I asked him how he was. He replied:

"We gonnn git in the caahhrr and we gonnn listen to 'Uptown Girls' and we gonn goo to Hyyy-veee."

The desire to listen to Billy Joel is waning but the desire to to "goo to Hyyy-veee" is not. A couple days ago, again while picking him up from daycare, he reiterated his desires.

Upon crawling out from under a plastic kitchen play set, he cast eyes on me and said: "Wonn goo to Hy-veee?"

Mrs. Blackwell is getting the same treatment. What's truly sad is that, without fail, our answer is almost always, "Yes! My God, son! Yes we do 'wonnn gooo to Hy-vee!'"

This proclamation speaks to a few facts. 

First, Mrs. Blackwell and I are officially each 70 years old. How else to explain that a trip to the grocery store now sets our pulses pumping? 

Second, Hy-Vee really is spectacular. We've talked with other parents who agree wholeheartedly. Aside from the aforementioned food options, there is a separate restaurant and bar attached. One could — conceivably — watch a game while one's spouse was out shopping. 

Or, if you're so inclined you could enjoy a Moscow Mule (from a copper mug no less) while shopping for that week's groceries. 

For his part, the boy loves the fact that kids get a free banana while shopping. Or maybe it’s the free cookie from the bakery, or the free Blow Pops from the cashiers.

Ahhh, and there it is dear reader, isn't it? Those freebies for the kids. As you know, as we all know, they're not free at all. 

And just off aisle 1, the bar. 
These Hy-Vee folks have it figured out. Grease the palm of the babies and toddlers and the parents will follow. 

But the folks at Hy-Vee are smarter than even that and have accounted for everyone, not just kids or parents. 

Those without kids are drawn to the place too as it is littered with an absurd amount of free samples of food and drink (including on occasion, beers and wines). This is in addition to the aforementioned bar and grill.

Top it off with a staff that is invariably polite — you can't ask what aisle a product is in without being directly led to it — and they've made it so damn easy to go there that venturing anywhere else is a consideration we just don't bother with anymore. 

We've surrendered. Drank the Kool Aid. Whatever you want to call it. 

You might have something similar to this store in your neighborhood and, if you do, you know what a blessing it can be. Like it or not, buying groceries is part of life and, unpaid shill or not, I am happy to have found a place we can get a beer (and a Blow Pop) while taking care of one of life's chores.

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