Saturday, February 02, 2008


portland grocery stores seem to have adopted the wanna-be-whole-foods thing, i.e. painting their stores earthy colors i guess justify charging an arm-and-a-leg for generic items, hoping you wont notice as they try to compete with whole paycheck foods and new seasons. i'm not buying it though. i used to shop at my neighborhood safeway until i bought 4 tomatoes on the vine and it cost me 4.99. seems like we're all just paying for their remodel job a couple years back.

anyhow, i started shopping at winco a couple years ago because they have LOW prices. it was really hard for me at first to shop there. first of all, the people who shop there are different from who you see at the other stores (well, except for me of course :). i guess on some subconscious level when i'd see well dressed, well groomed shoppers at the other stores, it made ME feel better about who i was--afterall, i WAS shopping among upperclass people, it reassured me that i was like them...

but at winco, i'd see a lot of welfare moms (and please don't ask how i know they're welfare moms-you just know), immigrants, and generally more trashy people than what you might see at new seasons or whole foods or even safeway. i mean hey, it's affordable. but when i first started going there, i felt uncomfortable. like, i wasn't on that level, i didn't want to be lumped together with all the hoodrats, babymamas and illegals. i felt like by shopping there it made me one of "them". and then i was thought: maybe i was one of them and just didn't know it? people could see how well groomed and non-welfarish and clean i was, couldn't they? what if they didn't?

i no longer feel that way, as money talks a little bit louder than pride. but tonight i was reminded of those feelings i used to have when went there to get food and stuff for our mega superbowl party on sunday. it's the beginning of the month so of course i saw all these young , single moms and downtrodden folks with carts topped to the rim with things like hot dogs, cookies, cheetos, sugary kool-aid-in-the-gallonjug, fruit loops and other stuff like that. i guess that's another post i'll save for another day.


Anonymous said...

Interesting to hear your insight... Granted I noticed the same patterns as you did, with upperclass people at whole foods and zupans while more of the lower class folks were at winco and food4less, I still think it's just about people trying to provide. Which isn't to say that these patterns are set in concrete, however. I was one of those "poor kids" at a pretty well-off school in Portland, and I was surprised to learn that doctors, chiropractors, and other professionals shop at winco too. It kind of made me chuckle at first, really. But basically it all comes down to the fact that people want the best quality and value for the necessities they need to provide their families. I think it's interesting to see people breaking those socioeconomic expectations of society...Like rich people who shop at the dollar store.

Anyway, what struck me with your post was how you mention that you adapt to the environment of your shopping...Just out of curiosity, do you get the same feeling shopping at Lloyd Center vs. shopping at Bridgeport Village?

TBG said...

anon, interesting comparison! lloyd ctr vs. bridgeport? i prefer not to shop at places like bridgeport village or washington square, because of the dirty looks (what's a black person doing HERE??) i get either alone, or with my husband. i've actually never been to bridgeport, but i've been to W.square enough to know that i can't deal with that part of portland. the last time i was at washington square was about 7 yrs ago and i decided i would never go back. it's so far from my nabe that i'm not even tempted to go there. i feel right at home at lloyd center.

The Black Sentinel said...

I am wondering what is so bad about these so called welfare moms etc. Do you just feel superior to them because you think that you are somehow doing so much better. Yet you are shopping there as well so how well are you doing?

When in actuality I shop at those stores as well because I want a deal and could care less who else shops there. It is about savings not about being pretentious.

What will happen if you and your husband get laid off and can't get jobs elsewhere? And god forbid you have to go on welfare then what? Are you going to somehow not get the help you need for fear that someone will point that stupid self righteous finger at you that you are pointing at them.

You don't know squat about those people's personal life. They may look like welfare moms or single moms but that is just your stereotypical thoughts showing. I have seen some people who look like those so called welfare people only to find that they made more money than my family. So don't be so sure that they aren't doing better than you.

Ok enough with my chastisement. You really should think about your self esteem because the type of store you go to means very little. Feeling superior to those people in that store also shows that you might be in trouble self esteem wise. I think that you need to do some sort of volunteer work in order to get to know these so called hoodrats. You might learn something.

Anonymous said...

I know one person who shops at Whole Paycheck because the store says they only have organic foods there. And this is what he wants. He doesn't want to go over every piece of chicken at Fred Meyer to find some that might be, maybe, free range.

But that's the only reason he goes. He doesn't know what people are wearing, how much money they have. And he is very working class, working for the same union for over 30 years. It's not all about class and money and yes, you are right - even people with money want to save it if they can.

You are not missing anything at Bridgeport! Talk about dull shopping!

Jcanguy said...

TBG, for the first time in your blogs ia actually agree with you. Depending on where you shop you kinda mix in with the people. I used to shop at the Winco on 82nd, trust me not a nice place; trashy, rundown, and just children and thieves all over the place (they were visual in their actions so I'm not stereotyping). I stopped shopping there and start shopping at the Winco in Tigard, nothing was as nice as that one, as its in a more prestige area things are always clean and people fit perfect in the picture.

Now on the bridgeport issue, I love brideport and Washington Square. Being black and married to a very superficial wife thats where I've ended up for movies, shopping, and good maritinis and what can i say its the best. Its not ridden with high schoolers like Lloyd Center, and the high schoolers that are there well they are getting their car vallet parked. Its ironic how you call Lloyd center your hub, but you dont like to be around people in Winco, aren't they all kinda in a little group together?

Aly Cat 121 said...

There are alot of "welfare mothers" as you call them who also shop at WholeFoods because they do accept "food stamps" and other gov't program issued stuff. But for some reason people think if you shop there then your "middle class". Most people who shop there is because of a LIFESTYLE and not because it's popular.

If you really want to see "natural, organic, locally grown/bought" food shoppers, don't shop at Wholefoods. Instead go to some places listed below in your local area.

tasha said...

I always go to the Winco in Tigard because it's cheap. To be honest, I don't like shopping at Safeway or Wholefoods, because I don't like being grouped with the rich, white yuppies that obsess over feeding their kids organic celery and all-natural turkey. I really don't believe in the "organic" thing, because those rich high-class organic people aren't that much healthier than the rest of us. They just like to think they are. Plus if you ask me, their food doesn't taste that good.
Low class or not, I love Winco because the food is quality enough for me, and it's cheap.
I am surprise you want to be associated with the high-class yuppies that think they're better than everyone else?

Annabelle Blue said...

You're SURPRISED that she didn't want to be associated with the high-class yuppies that think they're better than anyone else? Have you READ her blog? LOL!

Anyway, I can definitely understand what you mean by shopping at places you feel are "beneath" you. It's not even that they're beneath you, it's just depressing to be around the babymamas (which I assume you mean young, black mothers, which doesn't necessarily mean they are single and poor, but whatever), illegals and hoodrats.

You shouldn't worry about the other people that shop there. You're right, money does talk, so just suck it up and let yours lead you to Winco and do your shopping for your family. Meanwhile, don't generalize about the other patrons . . .what a waste of energy. I'm sure they don't spend their energy caring about what you're doing there.

Anonymous said...

TBG, I thought your comment about worrying whether "people could see how well groomed and non-welfarish and clean" you are is really interesting. I'm betting your white readers don't experience that very often, i.e. they don't worry about being lumped into the welfare category because they are used to getting the benefit of the doubt, even if they are not well-groomed and well-dressed.
Perhaps I am mis-reading?

Keigh said...


I reckon a lot of people who shop at the Whole Foods stores aren't "upper class" or well off. Most groceries accept food stamps and many more accept WIC. As someone said above, it's a lifestyle choice. The nice looking woman you saw at the store, who you assumed was "upper class" might be as poor as you are, and might be paying for her groceries with food stamps.

Also a little insider info: some grad students I know are on welfare because school is so expensive. And you'll often see them in the Whole Foods stores and other organic stores.

Also, Tasha: the ignorance of your post is astounding. Eating organic food isn't a "white" thing, and it most certainly isn't a "rich, yuppie" thing. If you don't want to shop organic, that's fine. But painting all of us as "rich white yuppies" because you feel insecure about what we might be thinking about you is foolish.

Mrs. Black America said...

how can i as a grad student get welfare? let me know!

d.c. said...

"and please don't ask how i know they're welfare moms-you just know."

Translation: "Please don't question my preconceived stereotypes and bigotry, those people make me itchy!"


cwayne said...

Yep, I know what you mean TBG.

If I want reasonably priced food w/ good quality, I go to 2 stores:

WalMart Supercenter (But I"m not in a rural area so there are none here. But I have have been in one before).

Costco-great place.

Then I just get a few special items at Whole Foods & maybe ShopRite.

And I avoid the welfare queens.

Golden Silence said...

How can you tell if someone's a "welfare queen"? Just because someone dresses raggedy it doesn't mean that they don't have money. Usually the ones who look like bums are the rich folk---they just don't care too much about their appearances!

Jcanguy said...

I'll have to agree with Golden Silence on this one. The way a person dress tells very little about them. At times the wealthiest conceal themsleves by dressing down whereas the poorest try to not make things look so bad by buying the nost name branded clothes to look good on the streets but still hunger at home. Are you like that TBG where you try to look good by shopping at Nordstroms and Coach stores and then buy cheap things from Walmart and Winco?

Anonymous said...

TBG!I know what you mean! Dont feel bad! People say the same thing about people who go to Walmart as oppose to Target. The bottom line is that of course people whith lower incomes will obviously want to go to establishments that have lower prices so that they may get more bang for their bucks or people who are more thrifty about their money! I try and get my fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers market and I also go to sams club or costco, maybe going to these places will a refreshing change of sceanery that will be beneficial to your wallet and peace of mind

Chris said...

i wish i could put a face on you, why not post one?

tbg said...

Ha! a photo? i've thought about doing that. but then i'd lose my anonymity. and actually it's kind of funny because you've posted on this blog before, and there is someone in my world named chris-not necessarily a friend and i've wondered if you are that same person. but i doubt it since it's such a common name. but if you were the chris that i think you are, i'd be horrified if you knew it was me writing this blog.

Anonymous said...

@Golden Silence

You are correct. You cannot tell a "welfare queen" simply by appearance. But lets face it, there is a certain type of person that you can generally id by how they carry themselves, how they act, how they speak, etc. You must use multiple criteria. And you still will not be 100% correct when you make the assumption. But you might be 90%. And I don't use the term "welfare queen" as race-specific as some might assume. This type of personality can appear in any "race". I wish I had a term for the male version, but I've never seen one that I can remember. You know what I'm talking about.

Oh, for some reason I can't seem to sign this with a nickname anymore. Guess they changed the program. This is cwayne.

Keigh said...

"Welfare Queen" is a myth, guys. It was first created in the 1980s by Ronald Reagan as a way to cast doubt on the welfare system.

Anonymous said...

I'm late in my response to this blog but I will say this...

some stereotypes do contain an element of truth. With that said, it does sound a bit snooty to worry about how others might perceive you by shopping in a store where "babymamas" shop.

I won't attack you like others have done here, because I like your style. However, as it has been stated, one cannot always assume things about people based on appearances. I live in one of the most run-down cities in America. The population of unemployed black and Hispanic folks here is extremely high. Many of them appear trashy and their behavior often reflects this, too. I'm biracial and I feel unsafe in public around individuals like these. If you wanted to comment on this, I would be able to relate more to what you're saying.

It is not about their color or the clothes they is about their conduct and how it could possibly affect my safety. I don't judge most of the young "babymamas" I see, because I try to see them as people who might have made poor decisions. They're trying to provide for their children, which should be commended. Some women simply pop out babies and don't care if the children have meals, nutrition, etc. I'm not destitute but I don't come from money, either. I'm married to a white man too. He is very wealthy and only because he has worked/saved conscientiously all his life. He turned 38 a few days ago. I'm 24.

Walmart is pretty good if you want good deals on food or simple items. Lots of trashy people shop at the Walmart in my neck of the woods, which I don't like, but what can I do about it? My mom shops there because it is convenient. It isn't as expensive as chain supermarkets around here have become with the economy. I'm moving out of here anyway.

The bottom line is that it shouldn't matter if you feel "lumped in" with the people who shop at certain stores. If you're secure within yourself, it shouldn't matter. Be thankful that you're in a better position financially than some of those people but don't look down on them. Be thankful that you have a home and a job and that your children are in a stable environment. Be thankful that you can afford luxuries like running water to shower with and decent clothes to wear. Be thankful that you have an education. Some people would love to have what you have...don't look down on them because they aren't like you. I'm not saying that I personally would invite certain people into my home or associate with them, but I would view them as people who simply have a different position in life and it isn't my place to judge why or how.

I feel like you do at times, especially because I hate the crime-riddled dirty state that I live in, but you should always try to keep stuff in perspective. You know who you are and if people want to make assumptions about you because you shop at stores filled with "undesirables", laugh it off and continue with life. You're a smart person...stop trying to impress people who don't give a damn about you.

So What I Said It said...

i totally feel the way you do.
it concerns walmart and target
Target = Whole Foods
Walmart = Winco
Just replace the words and you'll have my thoughts exactly! :P lol except there are a lot more illegals shopping at target these days because they're the only ones with cash anymore......driving around their gas-guzzling SUVs...but i digress.

and i still try to shop at Target, but when I need something cheap (when i'm low on cash): walmart

Anonymous said...

im not trying to attack you tbg but in a lot of your blogs the main worry you have is being 'lumped together' with lower class black people. (sry if that offended anypone!). but speaking as a black woman/girl (im only 18 ) that has been told all my life im the 'approachable' 'friendly' black person you shouldnt care about that. i went through a period in my life (during middle school and some high school) when i was afraid of being but in the same category as the 'stereotypical' black person but the more i learned and talked to my black peers i realiaed that most of those stereotypes were false. i work in a grocery store now and i see the 'welfare queens' walk by and i make a effort to talk to the and see whats up, most of them are very sweet and kind and when they i find out that they are using their own debit cards not foodstamps. so my point is dont focus too much on being categorized with the people you shop with they could be very nice people you just havent taken the time to know. oh and by the way WIC is avaliable to women and infants frorm all socioecomonic backgrounds

Anonymous said...

OMG, please tell me this is satire!!! LOL WOOOW!

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