I moved to my current city in 2003. I left behind the hustle and bustle of Metro-Detroit to land in Jackson. Known as a prison city, most people passing through from more progressive places are not impressed. I have very hot and cold feelings about living here.
I don’t miss the traffic of metro-Detroit. I used to listen to the traffic on the 8s as I pulled out of my Royal Oak driveway so that I would know what to expect. I was always where I needed to be by 3:30 and didn’t leave again until 6:30 if I could help it. We don’t even have a traffic report here in Jackson, because there’s nothing to report. On a bad day, I’ll sit at a stop sign for two minutes before I can turn.
I do miss the variety of metro-Detroit. Any stores or cuisine or events were within a twenty minute drive. Jackson lacks flavorful cuisine. I miss cultural diversity. I miss artistic diversity. We DO have a symphony here, which is really interesting and unusual in a city of this size.
Leaving Royal Oak, I parted with my beloved Costco and signed on as a Sam’s Club member when I got here. Let’s get one thing very clear: based on the same warehouse concept, they are not at all the same. They don’t even compete. When I first moved to Jackson I wrote a letter to the Sam’s Club store manager suggesting that they incorporate more organics in the store to differentiate themselves from other area shopping. I never did get a response.
Across the service drive from the Jackson Sam’s Club is a Blain’s Farm and Fleet and a Sav-A-Lot grocery store. I’ve shopped at Sam’s Club for all of my years in Jackson. I have come to rely on certain products and prices. It’s convenient, but it’s ordinary.
Sporadically over the years I would go to the Costco near my mom. She knows how much I appreciate the offerings that I simply cannot find in Jackson. I would marvel at the products and load up my mom’s cart with products I missed at home. Admittedly, I’m a Costco-kind of woman, living in a Sam’s Club kind of town.
I made a very concerted effort to shop in my town when I moved. I would seek out locally owned stores and restaurants to help bridge the gaps of what I felt I was missing. Native Jacksonians laughed at my efforts, stating that they often drove to nearby Lansing or Ann Arbor to find what they needed. They didn’t think twice of the long drives.
This week, I declared that it was time to re-join Costco. My offspring need me less, and I can be away from home for longer. I told my closest friends that I was joining Costco again. They laughed at my enthusiasm. I put on mascara and perfume to renter my love affair with Costco. I squealed when I pulled into the parking lot for my first shop.
The first thing I noticed was different languages spoken by the patrons. I should clarify because we’re living in a wild time right now: it was wonderful. The next thing was that (besides one person in the whole store) everyone wore masks.
There was a lot of cross over in the products offered by Sam’s Club. But then in addition to that, there was more. More organic options, vegan options, ethnic options… The produce walk-in cooler is the size of a classroom, if not larger.
I picked up basics: bread, milk, spring mix. Then just about everything else in the cart was either ingredients to create more ethnically diverse meals or frozen foods: Korean dumplings, Chinese potstickers, Cilantro and beef burritos etc. It was nerd-ishly exciting! We’re currently ordering little carry-out food, and doing even less dine-in. I’m so excited to bring flavorful foods home.
In the parking lot I packed my prepped coolers for the ride home. Driving home, I analyzed what I saw against what I have available in Jackson. I think from now on, the things I can get at either store, I will buy locally. And for the wonderful variety that I have so craved for years, I will make that drive to Costco!