Sometimes I take for granted the immense convenience that comes from living in our highly walkable neighborhood. We are about two blocks from the door of one grocery store, and another block or so from another. This morning I was thinking about the many ways this location benefits our lives:
- No driving. Occasionally we do park in the grocery-store lot, when I am utterly exhausted and need to stop on our way home from somewhere or on our (late) way out to an event. But typically, I walk to the store. While it’s very close, I know from my mileage from the gas station on the corner that the drive is actually .2 miles. Not driving twice a week saves me around 20.8 miles a year, or a gallon of gas.
- Togetherness. Sometimes, Little Cheap goes with me to the store. It’s so much more pleasant to skip over together, holding hands, than to drive.
- Convenience. We can run over to the store easily on the occasions when we must have a doughnut or a pint of ice cream. In these summer days, when we have a freezer full of meat and a fridge full of CSA vegetables, I don’t have to plan too much; I can stop in when needed for a gallon of milk or some cheese to accent dinner.
- Delivery replacement. We don’t always, but should more often, take advantage of the store for conveniences like refrigerated, fresh-made pizza. It tastes better than most of our delivery options, still comes in recyclable packaging, and costs less than $10 for more food than our family ought to eat.
- Coffee tawk. The store has a Starbucks location inside (not to mention another a block away in the neighboring store, and another freestanding location one block further). If I need a pick-me-up, I can walk over with my reusable cup in hand.
- Community. Because we live where the store is, we relatively often run into someone we know. I have one acquaintance I see pretty much solely at the grocery store.
- Supporting the community. On Saturdays, a group of ladies parks outside our store selling cinnamon roles, sweet potato pie and other goodies to pay for their program feeding the homeless. If I parked in the lot, I wouldn’t have to walk past their table. As it is,I do, and sometimes I succumb; sometimes they razz me or my husband a little bit and we joke about why we AREN’T buying on that day.
- Exercise. It’s not much, but it is a walk. And on the days when I encounter a raft of unanticipated bargains, it can be a real workout to carry 60 pounds of groceries the two blocks home.
- Local pharmacy. It’s oh-so-handy to be able to just run across the street when I need to pick up a prescription. If I could ever remember on the first try, that is.
- Entertainment. The store also has a Redbox location where we can pick up some last-minute entertainment for $1 a night. (If you sign up for their e-mail list, you can get one night’s rental free here.)
- Flirtation. If I weren’t married, this would surely be a perk. As it is, I’ll continue waving my wedding ring in the face of the checker who REALLY likes me.
And then the grocery store is in a strip-mall location, so that has additional benefits:
- Buying wine. The shopping center has a family-owned, 50-year-old liquor store where we shop for alcoholic beverages. Because we receive our neighborhood newsletter, where the shop advertises, we can even save $5 every month or two on a larger purchase like a box of wine.
- Shipping store. We don’t really use the shipping store’s services, but I can walk over a bag of styrofoam peanuts or other packing materials for them to re-use.
- Dry cleaning. We dry clean about four items per year, but we have no need to drive with four cleaners close by.
- Thrift shop. I don’t find our neighborhood location quite as awesome as the Goodwill I prefer, but we do have a thrift store within walking distance that has great deals on books — and where I strolled over a few weeks ago to buy a used curling iron when my daughter needed curls for a costume.
- Haircuts. The proximity to Mr. Cheap’s crappy convenient chain hair salon is great when he forgets what time the store opens, or the hair cutters have forgotten what time the store opens, and he can run right back home and go back later for his haircut.
Sometimes I forget all this greatness and think about moving to the country, but I’ll tell you, my mocha was good — and so convenient — this morning. Ahhh …