Friday, December 25, 2009

A Day Off

I was speaking to someone last night and mentioned that I had gotten up extra early yesterday morning to run out and do any food shopping I needed to do for Shabbos. All the major markets in our area were going to be closing at 6:00 pm yesterday and would remain closed today. Even the smaller stores and specialty markets, such as fruit/vegetable stores, would be closed tomorrow. I also knew that the markets, and their parking lots, would be extra full of people doing last minute shopping for the holiday. She was having trouble getting her head around this. "Don't you have kosher shopping available in your area?" I was asked. "Why should you care if the big supermarkets are going to be closed?"

All frum parts of NYC are not the same. In some areas you see no or almost no chain supermarkets. Shopping for frum consumers in those areas consists of a number of small kosher specialty shops--butchers, fish stores, bakeries, small groceries--and in some places a few mega stores offering those specialties under one roof. They also have large numbers of stores owned by frum people selling clothing and sundries etc.. For people living in such areas, yesterday and today were going to be no different from any other day in the year. A whole lot of the rest of us live in areas where there are some kosher only stores, but only a few of them, and shopping gets done at major supermarkets, with huge kosher sections, including fresh meat and fish, and major fruit and vegetable markets.

I live in one such area. Yes, our kosher bakeries and butchers were going to be open today. Strangely enough, they do a landmine business on this day in the calendar from non Jewish customers who suddenly need something and have nowhere else to get it. I wasn't going to brave the traffic, both human and car, and shopped yesterday.

There's also this: ALL the malls in our area are closed today, as are virtually all other kinds of stores. You're not going to find a single clothing store open, nor any stores selling hardware or appliances or books or anything else for that matter. All the big box stores are closed. Yes, there are some gas stations open. Yes, some restaurants are open. Yes, movie theaters are open. But the rest of the Island is pretty much closed down for business.

I LOVE it! What a gift! A day where no one can expect you to shop for anything, because there is nowhere to shop. A day where there is nowhere you HAVE to go because nothing is open. A day where you can just veg out at home and not feel the pressure to run out. And I love that this is happening on a Friday when Shabbos starts early. There is going to be no pressure to be out and doing. The only thing necessary to concentrate on is making Shabbos. Far from considering this a chisoron, I consider it a big advantage of living where I do.

As I write this my cholent is bubbling merrily and the soup is finished. The meat and side dishes are prepared and just waiting for the right time to pop them into the oven or onto the stove. The rest of the day is mine to do with whatever I want. I'm seriously considering a long soak in the whirlpool tub--not a usual on my list of things to do on a Friday. My friend? The one who pitied me because I don't have a wonderland of kosher stores in my area? She is going to be out today shopping, in addition to everything else that needs to be done for Shabbos. I know she pities me for the dearth of shopping opportunities in my area. I wonder how she would feel if she knew that I pity her for having to be out today, for not having a day off.


Leahle said...

My area has both plenty of kosher shopping and plenty of supermarkets. But I don't leave any shopping to do on Friday anyway whether it's a holiday or not. Friday is only a 1/2 day of school for my kids and I don't want to have to rush to do the shopping and get home in time for the buses and then first have to start cooking.

Sometimes I do find I have to run out and shop with the kids on a Friday because they don't really get home early enough during the week to do this. And haircuts are usually on a Friday for that reason. But I know what you mean about not being able to go anywhere today.

Aviva said...

I have a M-F full time job outside my home. Shabbos shopping starts on a Tuesday night and goes through Thursday night if needed but usually done by Wed. so I can cook Thurs. night. We had a half day yesterday and no work today and I too am loving it. No way is anyone getting me out of the house to shop for anything anywhere today. That shopping for the house is my second job and I'm off from it too today.

Ruth said...

Can I vent a little about my pet peeve regarding Shabbos shopping? I also work full time yet somehow manage to get my shopping done by Thursday. The only exception is occasionally items that are only carried by the frum stores that I can't get to except for Friday. So there I am on my way home from work in one of these stores 2-1/2 hours before Shabbos and the place is packed. Is it all working women who have no choice who are there? No! Please, someone explain to me why a woman who does not work outside her home is in a store shopping late on a Friday afternoon?! Those moms with little kids make it sheer hell for those of us who need to get in and get out and get home. An emergency trip is one thing but I don't see anything of an emergency in those carts stacked mile high with nosh in some cases.

Anonymous said...

Ruth: Take a deep breath. It's just human nature. Some of us are just procrastinators by nature -- we need the adreneline rush of a deadline. Also, there is the phenomenon of a task taking as much time as is available. I see this at work too. Some of my colleagues with children are much more efficient since they know they have to get home for when the kids get home or childcare closes, while others of us dawdle and fuss over a project or report into the evening.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's what you are used to. I loved being able to shop today during daylight hours. Usually have to shop after work at night. Without all those kosher stores I'd have had a crazy schedule this week with the shopping. You may be happy you don't have to shop today and don't have stores open. But those kosher stores are a blessing before Pesach and other holidays because they are open til one in the morning.

frugal wife said...

I am actually a little bothered by the fact that your friend thinks "kosher" supermarkets are a must. Where I live, there are 3 kosher supermarkets, and I go out of my way NOT to shop at any of them. I find them to be a rip-off of the highest order. There are maybe 4 items in the world that I can't find kosher in a regular supermarket chain. Milk, eggs, butter, flour, sugar, cereals, cheese, pasta and rice- the kosher brands of all of the above can be found in the regular stores. In fact, they even carry cholov yisrael brands of dairy and empire brand poultry! And it's all for significantly less than at the kosher place. Produce can be bought for good prices at the local farmers' market. The only things I buy at the kosher market are meats and certain vinegars that are hard to find kosher.

Sima said...

When we first moved out of Brooklyn to an area that didn't have more then a butcher and a bakery/small grocery for kosher stores I first discovered just how much more I was paying for food in shopping at all those big kosher markets in Bklyn. Frugalwife is right that we have absolutely everything you could need or want available in the big regular supermarkets. The prices are good, the sales are even better and being able to use manufacturers coupons and store coupons has cut our bills way down.Even the prices at the butcher and bakery are more reasonable because these stores know we have other alternatives. Our butcher keeps a watch on what Empire is selling for in the markets and he b'davka prices his chicken 10 cents a pound less so he can compete and bring in the customers.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I usually go to the kosher store once a week to fill in either the items I can't get at the supermarket and Costco, or the items that are actually cheaper in the kosher store; there are a few. When I was there last night I noticed several shoppers with overflowing carts, filled with supermarket staples like pasta. I know for a fact that the kosher store prices are much higher on those staples. I guess it's a matter of convenience and liking one-stop shopping, but it's incredibly expensive to buy staples in the kosher stores.

ProfK said...

Decided to take a coffee break and see what was doing on the blog. Funny how we went from being happy not to have to be in a store today to a discussion of kosher stores versus supermarket chain stores.I will not normally go near a grocery store of any kind on a Friday. The day is too short and I've got too much to do to schedule shopping also.

Re the kosher vs. supermarket comments, I also do very little shopping in the kosher stores. The only items I buy in the kosher stores are those not available anywhere else. Our local supermarkets don't sell the neronim candles for bentching lecht but our kosher grocery does. Only one of the supermarkets sells the HaOlam reduced fat cheeses and they are always out so I buy that at the bakery, which always has it.

One person was trying to tell me that the kosher stores carry more varieties than the supermarkets do. But of what? It is mind boggling to me the number of different types of nosh there is available with a hechsher. And kosher groceries are filled with that nosh. The supermarkets carry a far more limited selection of kosher nosh items. I don't buy much nosh to begin with, so I'm missing nothing if I can't get Bamba at King Kullen.

Ruth, re those women who don't work but are out on a Friday afternoon shopping, I'll agree with Anonymous that they are probably time challenged in all areas. Wouldn't surprise me at all if those were the same women whose kids always miss the school bus or who arrive at 1:00 when they are invited for lunch at 12:00.

Sima is right about the prices as well. The kosher groceries do not come anywhere near the low cost that is possible in a supermarket chain store. And I've never heard of a kosher store taking coupons for national brand products.

Tesyaa, I've seen those people buying staples at the kosher groceries also and I just can't understand why, never mind the "convenience." Look at the money instead. With coupons two weeks ago I got a national brand OU spaghetti at about 32 cents per box. The coffee brand I like is $8.29 in our kosher grocery. On sale and with a coupon that doubled I paid $4.99 at Shoprite.

You might enjoy this comment that my friend made that is not posted on the original. She was boasting that her kosher stores deliver, something the supermarkets don't do. She can call in an order and never have to go out and shop. Anyone want to bet on just how much it costs to shop this way? No price comparison, no checking the size of packages, no seeing the quality of the food. But it's convenient, that I'll grant you.