Solidarity and Generic Brand Canned Russian Mackerel

One thing you discover very quickly, especially in my part of town, is that while it is all well and good to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the struggle at the Big Three Grocery Store Chains it makes shopping for groceries a real hassle.
Today I was driving down Lincoln in Santa Monica and thought I’d swing by and honk the ol’ horn to show support for La Revolucion, and who should beat me to the punch but Rev. Jesse Jackson – giving a speech in the parking lot no less. So I honked anyway and flashed the “V for Victory” sign and drove off, happy to help, but trying to figure out where the best place to buy some Necessary Items would be on Sunday.
I’m “fortunate” to live within 5 minutes or less from TWO Von’s, TWO Albertsons, and TWO Ralph’s Groceries. Thus being the bargain shopper that I am if I plan it right I can get my favorite stuff any time I want, even at 2 am if I suddenly have the urge to get something. Why I’d want something at 2am is beyond me but you know what I mean.
Now, however, I’m not patronizing these stores and I have to really think ahead if I want to have something to eat besides tacos from the taco truck around the corner.
So far I’ve bought some things at Trader Joe’s, ventured into a pricey Gelson’s and bought a few things there, and bought the rest at the corner store by my house – which drives my price conscious (aka cheap) sensibilities to no end – but at least they have Goya products.
My favorite store to buy things in now has to be the 99 cent store on Lincoln. I’d only been in this store a coupel of times, usually to buy paper products, but when I realized that for some things, especially canned items their stuff couldn’t be too bad, I thought I’d try shopping for some items. Boy was it an eye opener.
For buying basic items like canned goods, they’re pretty cheap. But what was most interesting was all the weird brands you never see in “mainstream” or even “specialty” grocery stores. Looking for off-name brands of cookies? It’s there. South American labeled versions of American candy bars? It’s there!
Looking for squeeze bottles of Eazee Cheez ? They got it – and it’s cheap! Now, I’d be a little concerned about buying a plastic bottle of neon-orange cheese that’s not even refrigerated, much less spelled right, but if you’ve got a party coming up it’s a steal. Just put out the Easy Cheese from Von’s out first , then after the first round of drinks make the switch. Your guests won’t know the difference!
And when it comes to canned meats…they have the best selection in town. Treet (no SPAM), Mexican Imitation Crab, Deviled Ham in the big can, and my favorite: Generic branded Russian Canned Mackerel!
I never knew that one could get genuine generic branded stuff from Russian, much less get stuff with the Authentic Cyrillic script on it as well. I asked one of the workers if they sold much of this stuff and they said it’d been sitting there “for some time.” What that meant, I didn’t wanna know but I almost bought a can (hey it was cheap!) just to try it out. Then I didn’t.
That’s the thing that appealed to me most about this store though – you could get out of there and hardly pay anything at all. I bought a ton of canned beans, many varieties, to make chili with, pasta, milk, and some other assorted goods, and I spent less than $10! Who cared if some of the stuff had weird names, or if the candy bar was from South America? It’s cheap!
So the 99 cent store has a new loyal customer, although you wont’ see me buying any of that canned mackerel anytime soon.
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at

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