The Perks of Shopping At Local Supermarkets During A Pandemic

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There have been a lot of changes throughout this year in the social aspects of many people’s lives, including my own. Social distancing and avoiding large groups of people have become a newfound skill for many people. As an introvert, I had a lot of practice with these skills and could even be deemed as an expert. However, there was an aspect of the transition that was quite difficult. Moving from Manhattan to Pleasant Valley, NY (10 miles outside of Poughkeepsie) while not being able to see the close friends I had found prior to the pandemic. There was this sense of loneliness that had found its way into my life. I missed my friends and interacting with people my own age. It was hard to form a clear schedule and the concept of time almost felt like a dream amongst my new atmosphere. 

Most days, I went for walks which helped me feel more grounded. As days melted into weeks, I decided that I wanted to make the most of my time during this pandemic. I decided that every weekend, I would accompany my father on his trips to our local supermarkets. One of the supermarkets was five minutes away (ACME market) and the other was twenty minutes away (Adams’ market). 

Nervousness and anticipation filled me as I put on my mask and I could not help but ponder how surreal this feeling was. I imagined that if I told myself a year ago, that I would be scared to go into a supermarket, my past self would examine my current self with scrutiny. Rather than soaking in this negative mindset, I exited the car with my father and grabbed a cart. Bracing myself as I walked through the doors, I felt surprised to feel ease which I would have never expected. It felt like a warm atmosphere and almost all of the people who were shopping kept their distance. I noticed how some people made small talk while standing several feet apart. Questions and comments like: “How is your family?” “Did you watch the new season of The Real Housewives?” “Oh, I have those in my cart too!” “How are you?” made my ears happy. The genuine consideration and concern that so many of these people had for one and other, made my heart swell. 

My first supermarket experience made me realize that there was a new activity that I could incorporate in my weekly routine. Browsing the aisles was also fun for several different reasons. One being people watching  which can be an underrated form of entertainment. Another could include discovering new foods to incorporate in everyday life. I discovered a newfound appreciation for Pomegranate seeds this past month thanks to a recommendation from the staff at Adams’ supermarket. I also discovered different spices and herbs to cook with that made my recipes go okay to excellent. My favorite discovery though was the greenhouse right across from the bakery section at Adams. Ethereal and festive plants, soil and flowers hung from the ceiling and  lined the shelves. This peaceful feeling always comes to me whenever I go into the greenhouse and everyone who is in there is also relatively quiet. People who usually frequent the section I noticed had a big appreciation for plants. I highly recommend going to local greenhouses or to gardens because it can be therapeutic.

Every time I would go to each supermarket, I also noticed how there would be different social groups at different times of the day. The times that I went varied due to my school schedule and when my father could drive us. I noticed that the elderly community from Pleasant Valley and Poughkeepsie would come earlier during the day. While families and teenagers would come later or at night. ACME supermarkets even provided these carts with mini cars in front of the toddlers who accompanied their parents. I asked one of the employees why they did this and he said, “That way the adult shoppers’ children would feel as though they were having fun, while their parents could mindfully grab groceries.” The concept of this seemed incredibly cool to me and new because I had never seen a child car as a part of a shopping cart. 

There was only one time when I felt negatively while shopping at one of the markets which I am incredibly grateful for. The instance included a person not wearing a mask or socially distancing but one of the staff members handled it really well. Shopping at my local supermarkets made me realize how much there is to appreciate even in new and uncomfortable surroundings. It also empowered me to try and discover new things and find different ways to interact with people. The weekly experiences also made me grateful that I am able to go food shopping and that a majority of the people in these places care about COVID-19 safety.