Ah, Hoodmart. There you sit, all dingy and red on the corner of Cedar and 26th, just a stone’s throw from my house. Not to be confused with the other dingy red convenience store on the corner of Bloomington and 28th. Though it’s true, you’re overpriced and I usually feel nervous walking past the homeboys loitering outside, I still love you. Here are a few reasons why.
1) You really couldn’t be any more convenient for everyone in my household if you tried.
2) Your owner pretty much makes my day. He’s a very kind, aging Middle Eastern man whose introductory line is “You can call me Baba; means Big Daddy,” and then flashes a big toothless smile. And he always tells me how beautiful my hair looks.
3) In fact, everyone who works there pretty much makes my day. I can always count on a few polite compliments or awkward, cliche questions like, “Do you come here often?”
4) There’s always something illegal going on outside, which is usually more entertaining than frightening when I’m watching from my bedroom window.
5) You remind me of magazinele in Oradea. (For the non-Romanian speakers, those are small stores, not glossy, mindless, mass-produced media publications.) Seriously. I can almost fool myself into believing I’m in Europe… and sometimes South America! That is, depending on what time of day it is and how many people are in the store.
6) You don’t mind that I can never remember your proper name… nor that all my housemates have caught on to my nickname for you.
7) You (usually) carry all of my favorite beverages.
8) You also carry international phone cards. Very handy when I want to make international phone calls.
9) You’re somewhat bipolar in your prices: terribly overpriced on everyday items (like cereal and eggs) and remarkably low on non-essentials (like sunflower seeds and iced tea).
10) I’m pretty sure you’re always open. But I can’t say for sure, as you don’t have your hours printed on the door and I’m too scared to visit you after dusk.