Waiting patiently

There is this strip-center shopping center about 1.5 miles from here. It has been there for as long as we have lived here. For the most part, the flagship units in the center have been empty. Things have come and gone out of the center over the years.

There was a revitalization project that went on recently and still the flagship units remained empty for a long time. Over the past year, however, the larger units have been filling up. This is encouraging. The long time restaurant that has been in the center renovated their restaurant and while I have not been in there yet, I have heard that the new Valley Ranch location is very nice.

Then there was construction work in the parking lot. There are still not signs up on this new freestanding building that is going up. You can speculate what it is going to be. It has a drive thru bay. It is either going to be a bank or a pharmacy from the looks of it. It is not very big, my guess is some sort of bank branch building.

The other day, however, I was coming off the freeway and saw something new. Something had changed on the face of the flagship unit in the center. There was a big makeshift sign near the road in the parking lot. I could not read everything as I was coming off the freeway, but I was glad I glanced over into the parking lot that day.

It was something about a farmer’s market.

I did go back a couple of days later and purposefully research what I had seen. This is what I found…

I was going to have to do some more research because this alone was not giving me enough information. All I gathered from my quick drive through the parking lot is that it is “coming soon.” That means sometime this spring according to the sign.

Now, this would not be the first farmer’s market around this area. It would just be the first big one that is enclosed and easy to get to. What peaked my interest is the idea that I would be able to use my debit card in there instead of having to be loaded with cash at all times. This is the typical reason that I steer clear of the local, smaller road side farmer’s markets around here because I do not carry cash on me. I certainly do not carry enough cash on me to buy that much if by chance I do have any on me. Usually the kids get to my cash first for their various things.

I went home and researched it.

It is in fact a farmer’s market. Kind of. It is the concept combined with a staples grocery store concept. You combine that with a health food or organic food store and you’ve got what I have found to be the idea behind Sprouts. Not that I am opposed to that. I am not. I just do not enjoy paying high prices for groceries. Period. I do not believe that everything needs to be organic nor do I believe that everyone should shove it down your throat. Upon further research, that is not Sprouts. While they do have all that, they do have other things as well. I can live with that.

The part that intrigues me most, however, is the ability to get quality produce again. The quality of the produce in the stores around here has really gone down hill lately. I hate to say it but I will confess to simply not buying as many fresh fruits and vegetables due to their look alone. You combine the shrunken sizes with the prices and yes, I feel like I am getting ripped off at the store. I do not normally buy produce at Walmart, but the quality has even decreased at Kroger or Randalls. Now that I have to drive much further to get to Randalls, that leaves me with the often higher prices at HEB for their produce. It is always hit or miss everywhere in my opinion.

I was also intrigued with the idea that they had a meat counter that made fresh chicken sausage. I am jaded at best by this. I take it with a grain of salt most of the time. See when they say chicken sausage, they do not really mean that it is 100% chicken, just mostly chicken. You still have to put the sausage links inside a casing of some sort. In 99.5% of cases it ends up in a pork casing. That defeats the purpose of buying a chicken sausage for me. There were some other things on their website about the meats that peaked my interest. More and more the meats are coming prepackaged in the containers and not as fresh. No longer is the butcher handling the meat. Maybe I am old fashioned. I like to know that there is nothing bad injected into my meat to preserve its freshness. I like my 100% pure beef products. I do not want it enhanced. Give it to me as nature intended.

With these complaints in mind, I wanted to check out a sales ad. There are no local stores open yet. I had to find a store in the state that was open to get “comparative” sales. Fortunately, there are stores already open in the state of Texas. I took a look at the ads in Austin and San Antonio. While I was not totally impressed with the ad, I was not totally disappointed either. That particular day, the bell peppers were on sale. Many people know that these things have been extremely expensive lately. You are lucky if you can find them for 50¢ each. Well Sprouts was putting the red bell peppers on sale 3 for $1. Wow! That is nice. There were other things that were not impressive so much as they were just keeping up with the other grocery stores. Proof that I could compare them to the local competition. Comparative prices. Competitive prices. I am not sure I would make a regular trip in all the time, as their meat prices were consistently higher across the board on things. Then again you have to factor in the other things and weigh those things with why the prices are higher. The extra lean ground beef is probably about the same price as Walmart every day. That is not a bad price, for an every day price. I would like it to be lower if I was planning on stocking up. If I needed something for a quick, I need to make this right now meal then I know where I can get it.

At any rate, I am being patient for the “coming soon” sign to come down and the “opens on” sign to go up. I will be certain to go in and check it out. I did go check out Trader Joe’s when it moved into The Woodlands. I gave it a try. It is not convenient to my house. Nor was I impressed overall. Just like I will give the Whole Foods a visit when it opens as well. It is “coming soon” as well. I am pleased that there are more options opening up for groceries in this area.

Now if I could get my favorite spice store to open a store in The Vintage shopping center…

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