Friday, March 14th sure was a beautiful day to walk to the grocery store. And it was quite lovely to shop for just two nights' dinners within walking distance of my home. Carrying those groceries with my daughter, it felt almost like living in Europe. That's apparently what Treasure Island wants us to think, given that their bags are emblazoned with the logo America's most European supermarket.
Well, I don't know about that. But it was a whole lot cleaner than the Co-Op, and that's a start.
Which brings up this thought: it doesn't feel fair to review TI just yet, because it's really not their store. They're saddled with so many Co-Op leftovers: the shelves, the produce stands, the display cases, the fridges...it's all Co-Op equipment, scrubbed to death. For instance, no retailer in his right mind would choose the early-90s font on the aisle signs. And who knows how TI would have laid out the store (flow and configuration) if they'd had a blank slate.
It's clear that in order to effect a quick turnaround (I'm sorry, no matter how much the letters in the Herald whine, it was a quick turnaround), TI madly cleaned the joint, replaced broken equipment, patched up mouse holes, and passed their health inspections in the nick of time to stock the store and open it. Period. It's also clear they have loftier goals for the future: the fish department is divided in two, with fish on one side, and a hopeful-looking butcher wedged on the right. I imagine his station will be enlarged.
That said, right now TI is just...a really clean, well-stocked Co-Op. To be sure, I was pleased to find a few items that were never stocked at the Co-Op (they have my favorite brand of dried pasta: Rustichella d'Abruzzo. In fact the imported pasta section is nice). And it was great to see that the produce was fresh (e.g. baby eggplants that don't have soft spots and crepe-paper skins). The cheese department is promising. The jams are nice. They apparently have a special prosciutto slicer. There are some adorable imported candies next to the bulk section. The fish monger was delighted to see me, and that's always nice. After a few minutes in the store my shoulders dropped, and I stopped feeling like I was in the Co-Op, which -- call me a wimp -- used to stress me out.
Maybe I'm under the wrong impression about Treasure Island, but I was a little disappointed that it didn't have more, I don't know, Whole-Foodsy sorts of items. Maybe those will come with time, or maybe there aren't enough customers like me who want oat-flakes cereal, raw honey, candied ginger, rice pasta (not Asian rice noodles), and O.B. tampons.
Now, my daughter's college friend and my housekeeper had both told me that Treasure Island's produce seemed to them to be pricey. So here's a comparison list of some of the items in the above-pictured haul (the items that are carried both at Peapod and at TI). It's hardly scientific, but it's interesting, because -- for many of the things I purchase, at least -- TI does seem to be more expensive than Peapod:
"Silly me," I told myself, "this is Treasure Island. It's not the Co-Op!" And the plastic pot that was inside the terracotta pot was still intact. With happy resolve, I went back to the floral department to get myself a replacement terracotta pot. The true test of customer service, no?
Granted, the woman I spoke to was not the head of floral, she was just a helper.
Me: "I'm sorry, I broke the pot on this plant. Can I have another pot?"
Her: "Those come with the plant, I don't think we have any."
Me: "There are more of the same plant over there, can I take a pot from one of the others?"
Her: "We sell pots separately, if you want."
Me: "But I thought you said...wait, you mean I have to buy a pot? These things are, like, 25 cents at Home Depot."
Her: "Really?" (Looking at another sample of Hens and Chicks, and tapping the terracotta.) "This is glass, isn't it?"
In the time it took for us to have that conversation, I realized that my mother-in-law already has a lot of plants, and that maybe I shouldn't spend $6.99 to further clutter her window sill. So I put it back on the display and said, "I'm sorry I broke it, but I've decided not to purchase it."
A floral worker who's unfamiliar with terracotta pots? Despite the clean, well-stocked store, that sent little Co-Op shivers down my back.