Stong's aisles are empty as store prepares to close.
Shopping at my longtime grocery store, Stong's, has been a ghostly experience lately. Bit by bit, the familiar aisles bursting with packages, cans, bottles and jar have disappeared, replaced by gaping rows of vacant black space. The picked-over survivors of the "everything-10-percent-off" frenzy ended up huddled together on a few shelves, islands in a sea of black. Only the produce and meat departments were restocked, and on the weekend, even they were thinning out. Because on Tuesday, May 10, the store that has supplied me with the fixings for almost every meal I've made for four decades, is closing. I will miss it. Some of my neighbours refuse to shop at Stong's, saying it's more expensive than other places they can go. I'm sure they're right, but to a non-driver like me, being able to walk three blocks to a full-scale grocery store is priceless. Not only do I avoid the expense of running a car, but I can feel virtuous because my "trunk" is a hardy little shopping cart, greenhouse-gas-free and needing no parking space. (A wheel came off in the middle of a shopping expedition once, but that's another story.) Fortunately, Stong's, which has had a location in Dunbar for 85 years, is planning to stay in the neighbourhood. Ever since the closure of the current location at 30th and Dunbar was announced, it has been vigorously advertising that a new, bigger store is coming to 27th and Dunbar -- one block away from me. Right now, that new store is a gigantic pit full of construction cranes. But supposedly by December, I'll be back at Stong's, shopping for the makings of yet another Christmas dinner.