When considering a home, think with your stomach
It is always exciting to search for a new home. There are many facets to this process, location, waterfront or waterview, school system, or lifestyle choices - close to golf or equestrian facilities, tennis clubs or yoga studios. The home really has to enhance your lifestyle. An important question you may want to ask, is how do you do your grocery shopping? Do you shop every day or once a week or once a month? What are your lifestyle needs when it comes to food?
Growing up in Bristol, in my very young years, we lived away from town, and my mother would call Model Grocery several times a week and they would deliver groceries as needed. Twice a week we would have milk in glass bottles delivered to our milk box, and once a week the bread man would deliver bread, eggs and seasonal vegetables. When Almacs came to town, where Seabra is now, we shopped there and at Chellel's in Barrington. Almacs was always a long social event, and a regular, convenient place to shop, but I loved going to Chellels. There, special things were featured—things that were not yet at Almacs. It was there that I discovered Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Pepperidge farm cookies. The produce man was there for you to hand select your vegetables, or recommend the juiciest peach. A small market, with small carts, it was always my favorite spot to shop.
In my high school days I worked as a cashier at Almacs, and would see people from all walks of life, each with their own grocery shopping style. Some would come in everyday, others on Thursday nights or Saturday mornings, or, if they lived on Prudence, they would typically do a very large shop. I was always fascinated by how much they could fit in the grocery cart and then to be able to transport on the ferry. People from Prudence were always fun to check out. Since they would typically shop once a month, the process was longer than most, the conversations were interesting, and my colleagues would pitch in to bag the groceries—always a puzzle to fit all those groceries in boat bags.
In my 20's, I enjoyed wonderful food every day. I went to restaurants often, which were a terrific source of inspiration to cook at home. Living close to a fabulous grocer was essential. I shopped every day. Living on Providence's East Side, I had access to the wonderful Bread & Circus, which is now Whole Foods, and just across the bridge to Federal Hill was Venda Ravioli and Joe's Epicurio where I would buy the best ravioli, and the best veal chops that, in my hands, came a close second to Cappricio's. I simply loved the challenge of creating my own wonderful meal or attempting to replicate (to no avail, still) the fabulous pizza crust served at Al Forno. But close access to such a variety of such quality food, whether in a grocery store or restaurant, was an important element to my choosing a place to live.
Nowadays, I am in a completely different time and place in my life. Working full time and with three teenagers, I find myself having to shop in bulk, and I go to a wholesale club close to where I live. That store is just as much as a blessing to my lifestyle now as Joe's Epicurios was back in the 1990's. Life has become so busy, and having a stocked fridge gives my teenagers the opportunity to cook and create, and fosters independence. Those wholesale clubs now have good choices of meats, cheeses and vegetables. And, I might add, those extra large bags of Starbucks coffee are a total gift!
But, when I am an empty nester, I will not need to bulk shop. I will most likely shop more frequently and more selectively. Shopping this way can be a social event, and smaller stores know their customers. The meat men at Chellels or Joe at Joe's Epicurio knew our habits, our tastes. They took care of us. Unwrapping the veal chop or opening the bags of fresh, hand selected green beans was part of the reward of a wonderful meal.
So, when you are buying a home, you may want to consider your lifestyle with regard to grocery shopping. If you buy in bulk, does that home have enough storage in the kitchen? Is the entry easy to access with bags of groceries in your hands? Any steps? Do you want close access to a variety restaurants or do you prefer the quiet in-home lifestyle? Is convenience and accessibility important to you, or, like Prudence shoppers, is grocery shopping a monthly event that does not take away from enjoying more important things in life? Are you apt to want the social aspect of asmaller shopping experience? When shopping for a home, you may want to explore the local markets, restaurants, or takeout options. You expect to have to take your architectural and home design tastes into account when shopping for a home. Consider your epicurean tastes as well.
Kristin Parella is an agent with Lila Delman Real Estate in Newport.