In the heart of the Midwest, just when you’ve been missing Waitrose and the markets of Florence, you find yourself volunteering to go buy deli for someone’s mom’s birthday party and you plug in the GPS near the airport and go wandering off near Dayton, Ohio and – boom – you are in a sort of Pleasantville version of grocery shopping.
The Dorothy Lane experience includes a sexy dark environment blooming with perfect food, a deli that looks like lunch for the Queen’s birthday, flowers and breads and pastries and wines that were certainly in France a moment ago, and a staff that is well-dressed, caring and will even float your packages out to your car with dazzling smiles. You feel drunk and giddy halfway down the first aisle. Everyone looks gorgeous and sparkly in the warm pre-coitus lighting; young men in white shirts sidle up and invite you to a wine tasting where people fresh from Ibiza are sipping and smiling in a little dark paneled quiet plush sort of club area. And even if you say no and roll on, you’ll find the meat counter somehow looks like Cartier. The store smells like you’re the first person to step in after they sing lullabies to the bread loaves and eggs.
You leave (did they massage my shoulders first? It seems unlikely, but I am so relaxed), and you then pause to sit in your car, quietly, as you did after you saw St. Mark’s for the first time in Venice. You start to wonder if it would make sense to fly in once a week to shop here. Then you want to send a scold-y letter to all the grocers who don’t bother, while blaring that they are “adding a new cheese counter and home goods section” to their drab dirty stores which will "check you out fast” too. Ugh. We are racing thru the week, but have to shop, so, grocery store people, make it feel nice! Make us feel still precious to you. Don’t dress your staff in weird fast food outfits. Sweep, sometimes. Think of us as people who just watched Jamie Oliver and Giada cooking. Think of us as humans needing kindness and a sensitive, emotionally-attuned experience along with the beautiful sustenance of life. Dorothy Lane Market does. (Maybe we'll jot a tiny note to Target whose quite nice grocery area is however utterly clinical, with glaring pore-opening light?) Hmm. Maybe we should write to Dorothy Lane Market and suggest that they build some rooms upstairs, for shoppers who suddenly gaze at each other in the cozy private aisles and want to get all Roman sauce-y right now.