I stopped by the small corner market on my street last night. It's not a place that I've visited much, despite it being just down the street from me, within an easy walk. I only went into it because while cooking dinner last night, I found that I didn't have any milk. Part of my meal was already cooking, so I grabbed my jacket and walked down to pick up something, and seeing that Shaw's was about a half-mile down the road, this would be quicker. I honestly don't know why I've never stopped by the place. I think I've been in there only once before. I think the perception of that street and the shop's size has just led me to think that there's not much there - the larger supermarkets in the area carry just about everything that I need, and as such, I tend to drive right past this place. When I walked in last night, I wasn't necessarily expecting much. I picked up my milk (Which I suspect, is currently sitting on the counter after using it last night. Crap.) went to the counter to pay, only to be told my the owner (who I think is Bangladeshi) politely told me that there was a ten-dollar minimum on debit purchases. Annoyed, I turned and looked around for something else to get so that I could complete my purchase and walk through the rain to my apartment to finish my cooking.
The store was immaculate. I hadn't so much as glanced around the room when I walked into the shop as I made a beeline for the milk. Now that I had a chance to look around the store a bit more, I saw that the shoulder-high shelves were laden with goods, and they were organized, their bright labels facing outwards, each one perched on the edge of the shelf with care. The floor was spotless, and the candy bars were behind a pane of glass, neatly arranged. Further browsing for a second revealed that this wasn't like a gas station convenience store, with the stock number of goods designed for a quick grab by a traveller looking to get in and out - there was a genuine selection here.
I grabbed a six-pack of beer, one of the things that sprung to mind that I knew I didn't have, and planned to pick up, and returned to the front, where I waited for the shop owner to sell a boy a candy bar while his dad browsed. The exchange was very homely, comforting and alien to me. In the past two years that I've lived in Montpelier, I don't think that I've exchanged more than a couple of words to the vendor, who looked about as interested in my day as I was in theirs. Similarly, I've never seen the same amount of devotion and attention to detail in the larger stores.
I'm not likely to shop there as much as I do the other stores. There's a reason why I'll make the drive over to Berlin or down the street to one of the larger stores - they have a larger selection for what I generally buy, and probably a bit cheaper. When I go shopping, I tend to go cheap, and get everything at once. But having gone down to this small street market, I'm far more inclined to stop in more. I like the feeling and ambience with the place. It is far more welcoming and interesting. Not to mention closer.