Blogging in the Blizzard: The Ukrop’s BS

My black lab, Jake, was going nuts about a month ago, barking incessantly at the upstairs bedroom windows.

Jake, whom I have blogged about before because of his tumors and successful operation, does not usually bark at the upstairs windows.  Hence, I knew something unusual was afoot.

Across the street, huddled on a neighbor’s front porch, was another black lab.

Someone had dumped her, or she was simply lost; but she is lost no longer.  Dejah is now with us, a nine-month old lab mix — probably mixed with dalmation/whippet — and she is wonderfully experiencing her first snow.  She runs and jumps in the snow without stopping; coming to the door, her nose frosted with white, then leaping away to run in figure eights around the backyard.

Dejah is beautiful, a sweet little puppy; and she, like everything she’s experiencing, is wonderful and new.

Ukrop’s is old and over.

I know it’s heretical for someone in Richmond to say, even think, a single negative thing about Ukrop’s, the holiest of Richmond’s holies (other than the freakin’ legendary Santa).  But let’s face it: does anyone under 35 really give a damn about the future of Ukrop’s?  And really, how many of us over 35 give a damn?

The ones with blue hair care.  Just like they still read newspapers and wish the South had won.

The things I’m hearing about the sale of Ukrop’s to the Giant chain is pretty much an old-fashioned response to tradition:  Customer service is # 1, and that’s why it’s okay their prices are higher.  The rolls are wonderful, as is their prepared food.  They were never open on Sundays, and never should be.  They don’t sell alcohol, and never should.

It’s all bullshit.  There are some traditions that need to be stopped, and all of Ukrops traditions need to die.  Right now.

Come on.  Let’s face it: People still need to eat on Sundays.  Being closed on Sundays was always a pain, and was a complete disservice to the customers.  I love the food at Chick-Fil-A, but I’ve always thought it was insane that they’re not open on Sundays.  The Blue Laws are over; not everyone thinks Sundays are religious days; it’s the 21st century; and it’s time for some serious change.

The prepared food at Ukrop’s really isn’t all that good.  The white house rolls are ok, the breads are good; but most of the crap in the glass case is, exactly, crap.  It has no taste.  It is nothing special.  Everybody loves Ukrop’s fried damn chicken.  But, other than being traditionally prepared, there is not one thing special about it.  KFC is more special because the Colonel cooked it with spices.

The service is nothing special.  Retirees and high school kids pushing your groceries to your car.  Big deal.  I don’t mind carrying or pushing my own bags.  Why has their “exceptional” customer service ever been used as an excuse for their higher prices?  Not a single time at any of the Ukrop’s I have gone to has service to me been exceptional.  Ever.  It has never been more than what I can find at Wal-Mart, Food Lion or Kroger.  The underpaid employees down at the liquor store have more personality.  As a matter of fact, there’s a real grouchy bitch behind the deli counter at the Staples Mill/Crossridge Ukrop’s that deserves to be reprimanded.  Better yet, mindwipe her and let’s start over with a personality that’s pleasant.

And how come they sell cancerous tobacco products, but not alcohol?  How come grocery stores in California and in New England sell carrots, meats, breads…and wine, beer, Jack Daniels and Glenfiddich?  Some places, some stores, are civilized.  The stores cater to what the citizens want and need.  But some are old-fashioned — and even puritanical.  Welcome to Virginia.

It’s time for a much-needed change, and I, for one, am glad — no, ecstatic — that Ukrops will soon be dead.  If progress must ride in and trample on the corpse of the old-fashioned, then let it happen — the sooner, the better.

Dejah dances in the snow.  She revels in the newness of it all.  She leaps.  She plays.  The new is wondrous.

Ukrops now must make a Giant leap.

And play.

5 thoughts on “Blogging in the Blizzard: The Ukrop’s BS

  1. Russ,

    IMHO Ukrops served the community well and good. What I mourn is the loss of a truly local company that invested in it's community. I stopped shopping there when they moved out of VCU/Grace St., but I still appreciate what they have done. still do for Richmond. Of course not everybody shares that opinion.


  2. No argument about what they've done that is good for the community — and it's been a lot. But I think their old-fashioned sensibilities finally ran up against the wall of fiscal reality — in addition to ignoring the needs of the people in favor of some Prohibition-era moral mentality. Plus, that woman at the Crossridge store HAS to go.


  3. Branding. The “family” branded their name to Richmond, like so many others. You are right, think global not the Retail Merchants phrase “Think, Shop, Buy LOCAL”. The work mind set has to change.
    But I smiled hearing about your puppy playing in the snow.
    That is more important than any grocery store.


  4. Yes, I wish their personal values would have given way to practical business sense. In the end it works out the same. The new owner will not honor the very restrictions that forced them to sell. Perhaps they just tired of fighting a losing game. Grocery store margins are thinner than paper.


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