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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Crystal Palace

(Welcome Stuck On The Palmetto readers! More SoFla travellogues coming soon)

Do you have two supermarket stores so close to each other, that you are left wondering:

What's the point?

Now, I understand all about competing petrol stations in quadrangulation of each other on some street corner -- that's capitalism at work, baby.

You WILL go to the cheapest station, even if it's just by one penny, and the other ones might just be forced to compete with each other, to keep up.

But it seems to me that with supermarket chains, it becomes a mite silly, even wasteful, if there are other locales which would have needed a closer supermarket to them.

So, how about when there are two supermarkets REALLY close to each other, say, oh across two city blocks of each other, but are from the SAME chain?

That's weird, my friends.

But such is the case in South Beach, of the two Publixes virtually within spitting distance of each other.

The mind starts to wonder:

  • Is the first, older Publix set to be demolished, and the company hedged their bets by building a newer one when the first goes, since the locale is very profitable?


  • Was it some kind of home-owner association demand to service a more specialised, gourmet market?


  • Or in the case of this Publix supermarket, is it the special, out-of-the-way plaything of a rich demographic, insistent on their privacy, where one frequently sees limos parked outside?


  • For the sake of our latest travellogue, let's assume it's Door Number 3. If you know better, speak up! The mystery is killing me.

    Either way, here is our latest South Florida Travellogue together -- this time, not too taxing on your neurons, I promise -- where we head on over to...


    THE CRYSTAL PUBLIX PALACE





    Capacious. Stunning. Futuristic.

    These are the immediate impressions this particular supermarket makes on you. A glassy bauble on what is the South Florida jewel in the crown -- Miami Beach.

    Look at how the light plays with the glass, and the palm trees in the foreground, jutting at odd angles to each other, but making it that much more elegant because of its asymetry.





    Here in South Florida we have two major supermarket chains, in competition with each other: Winn-Dixie (as in that awful Dakota Fanning movie and book).

    Winn-Dixie's slogan is "The Beef People". Yep, you guessed it, they have excellent slabs of beef. If a South Floridian wants a good steak, that's where they go.

    However, it's also the more inexpensive of the two, and that's why Winn-Dixies are usually the preferred stores for the public assistance crowd, with everything that signifies.

    They are usually dirtier, less safe, and less fancy than the other major chain, which is...

    Publix.

    "Where Shopping Is a Pleasure"

    If you guessed that I prefer and shop almost exclusively at Publix, you get a cookie. Anyway, I lost my EBT card.





    When this supermarket opened, apart from the already mentioned head-scratching wonderment as to its placing, my first thought was:

    Oh! Americans have finally gone the Carrefour route!

    Carrefour is a French supermarket chain which is called an HYPERMARCHÉ, and you have to enter it, to believe just how enormous those things are, around the world.

    They even have Carrefours all over South America, from Rio to Bogotá.

    No, it's not quite Costcos, or Sam's Club because they are proper supermarkets, not nearly wholesale operations where you can buy industrial-sized bags of frozen gnocchi to feed a family for a year.

    It's a local neighbourhood supermarket, just blown up to Eiffel Tower proportions.





    This is the entrance to our own Crystal Palace, as dad and I immediately dubbed it, for obviously cultural reasons. We're forever blowing bubbles at it.

    I confess I have a special liking for that modernist aluminium look, which this Publix satiates quite nicely in me.

    But when I was taking the photo, I barely noticed that sign with the bunny, thinking it must be yet another tiresome Easter promotion to do with kiddies and egg-baskets, which I loathe.

    I was never much for Peter Rabbit.

    Such was my surprise when I found out that Publix has been awarded special licence by the US Government to print "bunny bucks", of which you can read more about in the blogpost above.

    Are they serious?? That's almost tercermundismo! Even the French would balk.





    As you can see, the inside is no big shakes, unlike my other travellogue, The Fresh Market.

    Same overused pretty-in-pink-and-vomit-green theme décor (the Publix colours), and the same savings one would get at any other Publix, so what's the big deal, you know?

    I expected clowns, a marching band, and possibly strippers.

    I mean, LUDACRIS shops there, come on.





    It's not even that capacious, given its deceptively gorgeous size outside. The Publix in Coral Gables near Miracle Mile I think is bigger.

    And it certainly has a better quality of boniato.

    (Note the Volvic water being advertised at the entrance, since South Beach is perfectly crawling with Frenchies, my friends. You'd think you were in France! Even my condo prez was French, sacré bleu! Anyway, I drink Perrier, exclusively)





    So let's go back out, since there is nothing special about the inside.

    Ahh, now we're talking. Aluminium and glass as far as the eye can see!






    And again, that play of light produces a strangely intimate feeling in this cavernous edifice.

    It's almost as if you are absolutely alone despite being surrounded by hundreds of people, like sometimes happens in a little odd corner of the Louvre -- just you and an artwork suddenly quite solitary.

    Maybe it's the rounded corners, which are seductive, don't you think?





    I paused from my photographic good works to drink the Publix brand lemonade, which I then set on top of this bin. That's when I saw them!

    The archtypical South Beach couple:

    He, all LL Bean baby blue shirt with upturned collar and linen bermudas. She, with insouciant Calvin Klein gear, with an eye to purse-snatchers, having criss-crossed her handbag wisely along her body, just like one does on the continent or in Rio de Janeiro.

    You'll notice BOTH are wearing the latest baby blue shoes, which as you know, is the "it" colour of Spring 2007.

    Fashionistas would never frequent Winn-Dixie.





    More shoppers, this time a family which probably spent $300 on two shopping carts worth of goods.

    Sigh.

    I remember when £20 would get one 4 enormous bags at Tescos, and my dad would still have some change left over to buy me a toffee.

    But things were bound to change after Mafeking.





    The top level of the Crystal Palace carpark.

    That exposed piping, and the already dingy walls slightly marred the overall positive impression I had of this Publix, but no matter.

    It's the only supermarket carpark where you don't have to fight to get a spot, and don't have to worry about overzealous metre maids, which is saying something in cutthroat South Beach.





    The view from the glass parapet.

    Like the Eiffel Tower, if you dare, you can get on your tippy-toes and peep down at the street below.

    I fear no big shakes here either, since that is I do believe, our local electric plant.

    (Just beyond, to your right, you can see the Regal Cinemas South Beach 18 theatre, which is another saga in glass yet to come on Sundries)

    But just as I snapped this picture, I felt a rustle of feathers brush against me, startling me, whereupon I almost lost my balance! And me with minor Vertigo!

    What on earth?





    Ohh, poor little thing.

    I suppose such things happen -- doves and pigeons get stuck inside the Crystal Palace all the time.

    Good job PETA haven't gotten wind of such a thing, because I fear the little creatures get flustered trying to find the exit, and with a sickening THUD, I heard this one beat itself against the glass windows visible just to your right. I didn't dare look to see if it had survived.

    What else can you expect when Windex is on sale for $2.69?


    BONUS SHOT: The Crystal Palace at night.





    That's where guys head to, when they've tired of standing around club Mansion or Privé for hours, checking out other kinds of birds.


    EXTRA EXTRA SHOT: Long view.





    RELATED:

    Don't forget to stop by my blogger pal, Ron of Fluffy Stuffin', to check out his magnificently scrumptious Zingerman's deli and gourmet market update.

    Check out the queues in FREEZING Michigan, for those no doubt delicious Reuben sandwiches (and other comestibles).

    Happy Silver Anniversary, Zings!


    Labels: ,

    17 Comments:

    • "Here in South Florida we have two major supermarket chains"

      Have Albertson's and Sweetbay not made it to the Miami area?

      I like Publix, though, probably more than any of the other standard-level (i.e. not Wegmans, Fairway, et al.) supermarkets. Their house brands are pretty good.

      By Blogger JSU, at Sat Mar 17, 03:51:00 am GMT-4  

    • Do you still hate Easter rabbits after watching The Tale of the Bunny Picnic?

      If I remember correctly, the movie has nothing to do with Easter, but still it is a traditional Easter movie..... for heathens like me.

      By Blogger Alcibiades, at Sat Mar 17, 03:56:00 am GMT-4  

    • And here I sit wondering when you'll mention that football club by the name...
      Oy. Now I'm disappointed. *sniff*

      By Blogger madcynic, at Sat Mar 17, 08:45:00 am GMT-4  

    • I kind of half imagine people scalping tickets outside the arena...erm supermarket. Interior seems a little bland, they must have spent all of their budget on the exterior.

      You can also tell thats a South Beach couple because they didn't buy any groceries! They probably eat out all the time.;)

      By Blogger Renato, at Sat Mar 17, 02:06:00 pm GMT-4  

    • Incidentally, I recently discovered that Wild Oats stores are in Florida! There even seems to be one in South Beach.

      Definitely recommended.

      By Blogger JSU, at Sat Mar 17, 03:27:00 pm GMT-4  

    • Have Albertson's and Sweetbay not made it to the Miami area?

      We were only just talking about this on Sundries earlier this week!

      Was it Benning and I who were commenting about Albertson's being very unobstrusive in South Florida?

      In fact, you have to go all the way to Palm Beach, to find one.

      There are none, TTBOMK, in Broward and Dade Counties.

      I like Publix, though, probably more than any of the other standard-level (i.e. not Wegmans, Fairway, et al.) supermarkets. Their house brands are pretty good.

      Right! I totally agree, and I am happy you noticed that.

      Their tinned goods are as good, if not better than Bird's Eye, or Delmonte or whatever is the normal brand for such items.

      I buy a LOT of Publix-brand items, and confess, only their laundry detergent fails me (I am a Tide With Bleach gal, exclusively), but even I buy it because it's a mere 2.99 to the Tide 8.99, which is a TOTAL ripoff.

      I love Publix. ;)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Mar 18, 12:08:00 am GMT-4  

    • Do you still hate Easter rabbits after watching The Tale of the Bunny Picnic?

      If I remember correctly, the movie has nothing to do with Easter, but still it is a traditional Easter movie..... for heathens like me.


      Alcibiades, I have to be honest with you.

      I really dislike Easter. I don't know why, since in some countries (the Eastern Orthodox amongst them, famously), Easter is more important than even Christmas.

      I just remember the egg-hunts, the fussy fittings for the Easter Sunday dress, and a certain underlying hypocrisy in my fellow men, who go to church ONE day of the year -- mostly to show off their duds.

      And anyway, CS Lewis >>> Beatrix Potter. ;)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Mar 18, 12:11:00 am GMT-4  

    • And here I sit wondering when you'll mention that football club by the name...
      Oy. Now I'm disappointed. *sniff*


      I didn't mention H*lle?? Or do you hate Cr*stal Palace too??

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Mar 18, 12:12:00 am GMT-4  

    • I kind of half imagine people scalping tickets outside the arena...erm supermarket. Interior seems a little bland, they must have spent all of their budget on the exterior.

      LOL, yes, it does resemble an arena a bit. :)

      (In fact, it's barely distinguishable from the Miami Heat arena, the AAA in downtown!)

      You can also tell thats a South Beach couple because they didn't buy any groceries! They probably eat out all the time.;)

      Hehe. Mind you, the couple and their friend (or ramp acquaintance) seemed to make up for that, with their copious purchases both.

      Mind you, notice that their most special purchases are Charmin toilet paper (my fave brand) and Bounty Paper Towel (ditto), which the bagger placed under their cart.

      Oh and the bottles and bottles of bottled water, it goes without saying.

      Floridians don't know from PUR filters, apparently. :)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Mar 18, 12:15:00 am GMT-4  

    • Incidentally, I recently discovered that Wild Oats stores are in Florida! There even seems to be one in South Beach.

      Definitely recommended.


      LOL! There's a blogpost travellogue to my local Wild Oats, already in the "can", JSU. :)

      I go to Wild Oats nearly everyday! Their soups are excellent.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Mar 18, 12:16:00 am GMT-4  

    • The old publix is for the old cubans that haven't been chased/priced off of South Beach yet, the new one is for people looking for dates.

      There are Whole Foods and Wild Oats in South Florida.

      Super Wal-Mart out by Dolphins Stadium is also a grocery store. Last time I was there after a game, they didn't mind me eating a turkey leg as I shopped.

      By Anonymous CB, at Sun Mar 18, 12:44:00 am GMT-4  

    • George Jetson shops there too.

      One takes driving students to the other Pubix on Dade Blvd. It's great for practicing how to deal with airhead pedestrians and misfits behind the wheel.

      PS ... please cover the CVS on Lincoln. I was just there the other night. What a scene! It's like a nightclub!

      By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at Sun Mar 18, 12:54:00 pm GMT-4  

    • The old publix is for the old cubans that haven't been chased/priced off of South Beach yet,

      Oh, surely not, even for the old-time Marielito crowd.

      I mean, the Cubans aren't that numerous or were naive in South Beach, as the little old Jewish people were, and thus, didn't expect to retire forever in paradise on only $180 a month.

      Besides, if the poor as church mice Argentinians who overstayed their visas can live in condos, on the sly, then so can the little old Cubans.

      the new one is for people looking for dates.

      LOL. Busted. ;)

      There are Whole Foods and Wild Oats in South Florida.

      And Apple-A-Day, which is a KIND of grocery I suppose.

      And speaking of Argentianians, South Beach has a plethora of Argie-owned mini-markets, that give me a sinking pit in the bottom of stomach when I go inside them (which is rarely).

      It's like being transported to the more run-down parts of South America, where the decor is frozen in 1973, the manner of the store clerk is accusatory, and where people sling their backpacks IN FRONT of their bodies as they enter, because it feels like you could mugged in aisle 3.

      Give me Publix or Wild Oats, anytime.

      Super Wal-Mart out by Dolphins Stadium is also a grocery store. Last time I was there after a game, they didn't mind me eating a turkey leg as I shopped.

      Eww, lol!

      That's one of the reasons I keep away from Winn-Dixie, because I have YET to enter one, where people aren't opening up ham packages, candies or sodas AS THEY SHOP...fully intending to pay as they leave, OF COURSE.

      That must be why you always see open, half-empty Kleenex boxes strewn about near the dog food aisle...

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Mar 18, 08:47:00 pm GMT-4  

    • George Jetson shops there too.

      Hey Manola! I'll be back on Stuck On soon -- cosas se complicaron por aqui, you know. ;)

      One takes driving students to the other Pubix on Dade Blvd. It's great for practicing how to deal with airhead pedestrians and misfits behind the wheel.

      No way, I JUST almost had an accident today in that Publix.

      A crazy woman driver in a brand-new white Mercedes decided to turn into the Publix, which as you know, is super narrow in the carpark area, and almost clashed with my car head on.

      Quick as a flash, she turned the other way, oblivious to my raised fist after her.

      PS ... please cover the CVS on Lincoln. I was just there the other night. What a scene! It's like a nightclub!

      Done. I am waiting for the right time to publish. ;)

      The amount of wannabe Paris Hiltons there KILLS.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Mar 18, 08:52:00 pm GMT-4  

    • VB, we should do a story together. I'm just got a digital video cam. Imagine the mischief we could cause!

      Yeah, exactly -- that Publix parking lot is like boot camp for bad driving. Sorry about your near-miss.

      I don't know how long you've lived in HoBe, but there used to be a Winn-Dixie (formerly Hyde Park Market) on 41st street. Now it's a CVS. It used to be SO convenient to have a market there. It was clean, well stocked and a basic down to earth place where you could get in and out without having to deal with "celebrity" Publix by the bay.

      By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at Mon Mar 19, 01:15:00 pm GMT-4  

    • Since you are categorically anti-rabbit/Easter, here is an anti-rabbit cartoon for your amusement.

      By Blogger Alcibiades, at Mon Mar 19, 09:40:00 pm GMT-4  

    • I'm afraid i missed commenting on this post earlier - other things demanding my attention, you know.

      I do prefer to shop at Albertson's - it's just a hop down the street, at the Largo Mall - as I know the merchandise there, the layout, and so on. I'm comfy with my Albertson's. We do have a nearby Publix, one of the earliest built. When they decided to expand slightly - it's tucked between other shops in a strip shopping center - rather than shut down for the construction, Publix expanded out the back, draping the construction area in plastic. On the day of the big 'move', the Publix completed everything overnight, while Largo slept, pulled down the plastic, and had a brand-spanking-new store. It was one of the finest logistical feats I've ever seen in a supermarket. No disruptions - the workmen all went in through the back, never intruding on the shoppers - no fuss, other than the advertisements. One day an old store, too small for its patrons, the very next, a new, bigger store, ready to do business.

      By Blogger benning, at Wed Mar 21, 07:40:00 am GMT-4  

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