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Surviving in a food snob desert
by Heidi Kyser | posted January 24, 2014
When I stopped in the Albertsons on Maryland Parkway and Sahara Avenue on Monday and saw it being emptied out, pallet by fork-lifted pallet, my heart sank. The liquor department manager, still in apparent shock herself, told me she and her coworkers had just learned of the store’s closure a couple days earlier and that it would be gone for good by the end of February. Corporate communications confirmed this in an email, adding that, despite the company’s best efforts to make the location more competitive, it hasn’t been profitable for “quite some time.”
“I don’t understand it,” the employee said. “We had all those customers from Turnberry and the Country Club.”
Her observation suggested that the store catered to a well-heeled clientele. Perhaps it was trying too hard; some friends from the neighborhood had complained to me about the prices. I liked it because it carried things I might need stat – organic milk, say, or baking products – less than five minutes from my house.
But if Albertson’s was a reliable friend to me, I was a bit of a cad in return. I only shopped there when I couldn’t make it to Trader Joe’s or Fresh & Easy, which have a less expensive and more expansive selection of the stuff my family and I like. We’re food snobs with limited means.
Also, lately, I’ve been cheating on Bert with White Cross, a mom-and-pop venture that happens to be right on my route home from work (full disclosure: my significant other is the plant and floral supplier there). White Cross owner Jimmy Shoshani is still futzing with the product mix, figuring out how to satisfy the divergent tastes of the hipsters, retirees and tourists that pass through his doors. Though I like what he’s doing with the place, it’s too small to rely on for all my groceries.
Actually, I’m kind of tired of not having a place in my neighborhood that I can rely on for all my groceries. I may be picky, but I can’t be the only person in Greater Downtown who hits the Friday farmers market on Third Street for produce, treks to TJ’s on Decatur for packaged foods and runs to White Cross in a pinch. Three supermarkets within walking distance of my house have closed since I moved to the much-hyped heart of Las Vegas 10 years ago: Fresh & Easy at Eastern and Charleston, the carniceria on Maryland and Charleston and now Albertson’s. As far as I know, only small shops like White Cross and Resnick’s have opened.
When I brought up the Albertson’s closure, an office mate spent considerable time arguing that the Smith’s across the street, which remains open, is better anyway, even for the type of products I like. Another pointed out that there’s still the Albertson’s on Charleston and Bruce and the Food for Less on Eastern and Sahara. We’re hardly in a food desert, and with the SNAP Experience, which challenges public figures to live on food stamps, coming up next week, I’m especially aware of the first-worldliness of my complaint.
Still, there’s something here for downtown revitalization proponents to chew on: if I moved to Henderson or Summerlin, my problem – satisfying all my food needs in one location – would be solved.
Pick up your Desert Companion today at one of these Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Jamba Juice locations.
Also available at Clark County and Henderson libraries.