There is a new grocery store in my area. It is a Fresh & Easy, part of a chain that, if memory serves, began in Britain. I love this place.
It is small, about only 2/3 the size of the nearest Safeway, and probably 1/4 of the mega-Safeway they are building a couple of miles away. The produce tends to come pre-bagged, but all the produce I have gotten so far has been of good quality. Their pre-made meals are tasty, and they have a number of in-house products that far and away beat other store brands. (Everyone in my house loves their pre-made puddings.) They also, amusingly, have some British goods as well. Their prices are comparable -- or lower than -- Safeway's, and their milk prices are lower than Costco's.
We can't get quite everything there: we still do a lot of bulk purchases at Costco (teenage boys? "Plague of locusts?") and Fresh & Easy doesn't carry unscented cat litter, which is a must in our house because the scented varieties give me migraines. Nonetheless, they carry almost all the things we need. And it may be silly, but I actually like checking myself out. If I forget the linen bags, I can put my goods in one bag rather than the three that the Safeway baggers use.
There is a lot of emphasis these days in the sorts of political circles I travel in on "buying local." By this, people mean buying locally grown produce (organic where possible) to help reduce the carbon footprint. By this measure, this store fails, miserably.
But in another way, it succeeds quite well. It allows people in the neighborhood to walk to the store rather than having to get in the car and drive. People can send their kids to pick up a few items. More importantly, it transformed a store which had stood empty for years, serving as an eyesore and a trouble spot, into a clean and bright business.* I support them as much as I can.
And I think that's okay.
*Kudos also to the Starbucks, which created a neighborhood meeting place where none had existed, and kept the shopping strip it inhabits with the F&E from closing completely.