Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how much I love going to Sephora when I have time to kill, and in that piece I mentioned that my other New York safe haven is Whole Foods. What I didn’t mention is that, while some may prefer Paris or Disney World, Whole Foods 365 is my favorite place on Earth.
I’ve lived in my neighborhood for five years now, and in that time it’s changed so much. High-rise after high-rise has risen out of the pavement, creating a whole new skyline where before there was just the old and beautiful Williamsburg Savings Bank. It’s mostly a huge fucking bummer to see my formerly quaint, historic Brooklyn neighborhood transformed into something resembling Midtown. The other downside is that most of these buildings are residential, offering luxury condos for the bargain price of $6,000 a month, which has attracted the kind of people who used to actually live in Midtown. I notice it most at the gym, which is increasingly crowded with pushy people who hop on conference calls during pilates (and get kicked out, as they should!).
There are, however some benefits. First of all, my landlord has raised my rent only $35 over the course of the past five years, in large part because the local real estate market is so over-saturated. I mean, who besides Tavi Gevinson is going to spend $6,000 a month to live in a glorified hotel room?
Aside from stabilizing my rent, these luxury high-rises have brought one other wonderful thing into my life: Whole Foods 365. Several months ago, the very first East Coast location of the store opened in the basement of Tavi’s former home, just three blocks from my own apartment. If you’re unfamiliar with the store, it’s like the lovechild of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. It is, basically, a cheaper, smaller version of Whole Foods which sells their name-brand items and a reasonably-priced variety of other items. It has great produce, excellent meat, decent fish, incredible cheese and everything else you could possibly need at low prices. You can buy a roast chicken for $7.99, a cut of salmon for $5.99, a wedge of parmesan for $6.99. As someone with an undying passion for grocery shopping, I’m not exaggerating when I say Whole Foods 365 is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. In fact, I’m not sure I’d be more excited if a Fairway opened a block away or if I got a job that actually paid me.
I usually grocery shop in the middle of a weekday when no one else is there, so I have the run of my wonderland. Though the store has only been open a few months, I already know it like the back of my hand (quick question: does anybody really know the back of their hand that well?), but I like to wander through at a leisurely pace, piling my favorite things into my cart (Banza chickpea pasta! Light coconut milk!) and checking to see if there’s anything I may have missed the last 10 times I visited. The store is organized perfectly, flowing from produce to meat to dry goods to dairy to frozen foods to drinks to prepared foods and, finally, checkout. If I go at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, I never have to wait in line and I’m in and out of the store so quickly it’s almost a shame.
For years, I’ve gone to regular Whole Foods every few months to stock up on a few things that are cheaper there than at, say, Stop & Shop. For example, almond butter, ground flax seed, cacao nibs and soap. I come from a bar soap family and, aside from a brief flirtation with body wash in high school, I’ve remained loyal. Growing up, my mom used to buy Tone Cocoa Butter Soap. At my grandfather’s house, where we spent a lot of time, every shower contained a bar of Irish Spring. I mostly stuck to Tone, aside from the occasional dalliance with Olay, but a few years ago I decided to use all-natural and organic beauty products as much as possible, so I started buying Good Soap, which is sold at Whole Foods.
I’m not sure how organic the soap actually is, but I figure any product sold at Whole Foods must be relatively natural. Plus, it smells good and costs $6 for three bars, which seems reasonable. I like the cucumber, vanilla and coconut scents best, in case you were wondering. Before the 365 store opened near me, I’d stop by a Whole Foods in Manhattan whenever I had time to kill and stock up on soap, stuffing the bars into my bike bag and pedaling my precious cargo home over the Manhattan or Williamsburg Bridge. Of course now I can just pop into my local grocery store whenever I want and buy as much soap as I can carry home on my shoulders! That may not sound like much, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that’s important to me.
Every kid has different ideas of adulthood. For me, being an adult meant having a stocked pantry and a linen closet full of extras: soap, toothbrushes, face wash, towels. I know I’m a real adult now not only because I have four sets of sheets, but because they’re all period-stained.
At the beginning of August, I found out I had bedbugs and have been dealing with it ever since. I got fumigated for the second time (it was part of the original plan!) this week so I was able to unpack a lot of my apartment, though my clothes have to stay in sealed containers and bags for another month. Having bedbugs is traumatic for so many reasons, but one of the things that bothered me most was having to wean down and pack up my pantry and toiletries. I threw so many things away, which felt good, but I take a lot of pride in stocking my pantry and I hated opening my cabinets and seeing almost nothing there. I hated avoiding my beloved Whole Foods 365, knowing I wouldn’t be able to resist stocking up if I saw a good deal. That, compounded with the rest of the bedbug experience (feeling uncomfortable in my own bed, sleeping with one pillow and one eye open) made me feel completely unmoored. Dramatic as it may sound, for the last six weeks, I’ve felt more or less homeless.
This Tuesday, the day after my second fumigation, I went to Whole Foods 365, and I bought a bunch of groceries. I didn’t feel quite comfortable enough with my apartment yet to buy soap, but I’m planning on getting some next week. I’ll stow it away in the bottom drawer of the new bathroom cabinet my sister bought for our apartment. When I go to sleep at night in my bed with two pillows (zipped up in bedbug-proof covers, of course) and a duvet on top, I’ll rest assured knowing that though the neighborhood has changed this is, once again, my home.
As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares what soap I like. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, from Whole Foods 365 or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!
Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!