Backstage at the the most ostentatious grocery store in the history of San Fernando Valley, opening Wednesday….
Ralphs started out as a local chain in Los Angeles. If you wrote a complaint to the manager for bad service, he would come to your house with a fruit basket. Alpha-Beta started in Pomona, and it ran cheesy ads with low end brands emerging from a bottomless paper bag and actor Alan Hamel urging viewers to “tell a friend”.
It was a different world then. You could smoke in the aisles and fill your cart with Sugar Smacks and Jiffy, and give your kid a shiner if he was making too much noise.
Now Whole Foods and Pavilions and Gelson’s are taking no prisoners, sparing no expense in the war of luxury. Little zings of moral affirmation will be found on every shelf. Local this. Fair trade that. No preservatives, no hormones, no trans fats. The gentry will be satisfied! The little people can f*** off to Costco. (Or they can shop at Amazon. Win-win, Bezos.)
Whole Foods employees have been told they will be ticketed and towed if they park in the surrounding neighborhood. But they are expressly instructed not to park in the garage. Those spaces are reserved for shoppers. In a metropolis where every public land use decision pivots on parking space requirements, this is a remarkable oversight. Unless of course it isn’t.