Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Target & Me

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love me some Target. It's a gloriously giant store filled with shockingly cute clothes (still mad I missed the whole Missoni event), adorably retro thank you cards (I buy a box every time I go there), and reasonably-priced household goods (where else would I get my economy-sized natural tears eye drops?).
Given this shower of Target love, you can imagine how thrilled I was when a Target opened up in Queens. Before that, I was forced to get my suburban fix at the 34th Street Kmart, where shelves are empty, employees are scarce, lighting is bad, lines are long, and you can never find what you need--only a whole lotta crap you don't want.

But I digress. Back to the glory of Target. If a billboard on the Cross-Bronx Expressway is to be believed, there is now a Target in all five boroughs (I've been to three of them), and they share a common element that is not found in any suburban Target I've seen. Wanna know what it is? Okay, okay, I'll tell you.

IT'S A SHOPPING CART ESCALATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Confused? I'll explain. Targets in New York don't have the luxury of space, so they're built UP instead of OUT. Because there are multiple floors, the red-clad Target folk want to make sure you can drag your shopping cart (piled with stuff you just HAVE to have) up and down between floors. Since an elevator wouldn't be able to accommodate the masses, some crazy genius designed an escalator that runs in tandem with the regular escalator. You simply push your cart on the cart escalator, hop on the people escalator, and grab your cart when you step off. It's brilliant, I tell you. BRILLIANT!!!!

Please enjoy this impromptu video my cousin and I made to demonstrate the awesomeness of the shopping cart escalator.  Note: No giant stuffed dogs were harmed in the filming of this video.

(Okay, so I read what I just wrote, and it seems that my excitement over this rather trivial invention borders on psychotic. But after years of seeing it in action, it still thrills me. Like a little kid with bubbles, I just can't get enough.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

FreshDirect is My Hero!!!

 FreshDirect is a magical, magical thing.

For those of you who are scratching your heads and wondering what I'm talking about, I'll explain. FreshDirect is an online grocery store. You can select your groceries online and they'll be brought to your doorstep the very next day!

There are several outstanding things about this service--you can get fat without leaving the house, you can run errands in your pajamas, and you won't get those annoying wrinkly marks on your arms from carrying plastic bags from the store. But the most brilliant part about FreshDirect for those city dwellers who don't live in elevator buildings is this: The delivery people will climb every single step and bring groceries right into your apartment. This means that there's no need to lug 50 pounds of flour, milk, and eggs up to the fifth floor! It's a food pyramid miracle!!!

But FreshDirect isn't all hearts and flowers. There are some drawbacks. First of all, it's no Wegmans. But nothing is, really, so we can just move on from that one. Secondly, the entirety of your neighborhood grocery store isn't available to you online, and the items that are available are priced slightly higher than other grocery stores. Sometimes there are only one or two varieties of a particular item to choose from, and there are no generic or store brands. For example, until very recently, I was unable to purchase my beloved Sunkist orange soda through FreshDirect. And they still don't have squeezable Welch's jelly. But as I've learned on HGTV's Property Brothers (my new favorite show!), if your checklist is too long, you'll never find what you're looking for.

Now let's go back to that part about FreshDirect carrying my groceries all the way up my 97 steps. It truly is a wondrous thing. But is that convenience worth the higher prices? I ended up with this compromise: I use FreshDirect to purchase canned goods, soda, frozen food, and other annoyingly heavy items. I'd rather pay a little more to have someone else do the heavy lifting on those. Other than that, I shop at the grocery store.

I'd love to go crazy and order hundreds of dollars of FreshDirect supplies in one fell swoop, but the unfortunate thing is that no one in Manhattan has storage. Thus, I order just enough to fill my (one) cupboard, my sections of the fridge and the freezer, and my under-the-bed food crate. (It's true. I really have one.)

Yesterday, my cupboard was as bare as Mother Hubbard's. And now, thanks to FreshDirect, I could host a twelve-person dinner party.

If I had a dining room, that is.