More Than A Store In Store

I am a member of several Albany listservs and the chatter is so telling of the attitude in this City. For instance, a great deal of time is spent discussing things like the placement of a crosswalk sign…all in the name of “quality of life.” Then, out of the blue, one of those observant of signs asks if anyone’s been to the Delaware Avenue PriceChopper lately…something’s changed…anyone else notice? Yes, thank you, I have.

Ya see, over the last several MONTHS, my little PriceChopper has been transforming itself from the well-known bottom of the PriceChopper barrel. The store, frequented largely by transportation challenged urban types, stayed open throughout the entire transformation. The products were re-shelved and re-shelved again….the ceiling was removed, the floor tiles extracted….everything was in a different place every day which made grocery shopping during the rebirth quite the adventure.

PriceChopper had helpful smiles all over the store, acting as guides to find those aspirins that were oddly placed with the pet food….I was grateful for every day that that private enterprise restored pride in my PriceChopper. Interestingly, across from the PriceChopper there is a building, long vacant, that has been the topic of discussion as all the urban “know it alls” have demanded the “city” or “anybody” sink millions into it to restore it for….for what? They don’t know….they just “WANT.” Keep dreaming.

On one side of an Albany Street is an example of just one of Albany’s deteriorating vacant government-owned buildings…and a fine example of Albany’s “Public Works” efforts with prog direction. (Follow that last link for the timeline of the crumbling.) This presents an interesting philosophical juxtaposition of project/non-projects, as the opposite side of Delaware Avenue proudly hosts the former “Ghetto” Chopper (I hate referring to her as that), a shining example of what the “evil” empire can do. Now, I shop a lot, and watching the rebirth of my PriceChopper has filled me with Conservative Pride with every trip. I didn’t grumble at all about the scavenger hunt for groceries, well, maybe once, because this corporate giant cared enough about my neighbors, not just to rejuvenate the store, but to continue to provide service in the midst of the rebirth.


My PriceChopper, in its former state, was not respected….the urban elite betrayed her by shopping at “prettier” stores while the pedestrians without that option reflected their frustrations in their shopping behaviors. A visit to the store was not considered a pleasurable experience but more of a necessary evil.  Get this, after the initial phase of transformation began, I received an email survey from PriceChopper which, basically, asked me (and all my neighbors) what I want to see in my new PriceChopper. Yes to a selection of soups, yes to pre-sliced deli meats…no to tables for neighbors to have coffee.

And, guess what, I got everything I wanted. I love going into my boutique PriceChopper and seeing the pride in the eyes of my neighbors as they experiment with the fancy new soups-to-go. I watch as families skip the checkout lines opting for the fun of self-checkout with each child getting a chance to be the “checker.” While this transformation began with a store…it is beginning to transform a community.

While I know all the pols will show up with bloated chests, claim a victory for this transformation, it is the Golubs and everyone on their team who deserve the credit…they could have followed the track of Bank of America, but the Golubs keep proving that they care. I say, let the petty minded dwell on the placement of crossing signs while they drive to the PriceChopper Market Bistro , it gives PriceChopper, and hopefully others in corporate America, the ability to do good work without Big Brother trying to direct the chorus. Thank you, PriceChopper, for really investing in my hood.

(I actually hesitated about writing this post as I don’t need any more people standing in front of me at the checkout…but it must be heard.)

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