FUSSYlittleBALLOT 2.0 – TJ’s Explained
The response to day one of the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 2.0 was very exciting. Today I want to step back a little bit, explain a bit what I’m trying to do here, and answer your questions and concerns about the first two items of the ballot.
There are a lot of reasons I write the FUSSYlittleBLOG. Despite all my griping about the area, it is my sincere wish to improve the quality of life in the region. Personally, I think improving a city’s food does more than just satisfy people’s palates. I can save the soapbox talk for later. Maybe All Over Albany will even let me borrow theirs.
This poll plays a role in that effort by attempting to expose people to some of the places that are truly the best in the region. Case in point, chezjake who says he’s a regular reader of Table Hoping (the major food blog in the region) says he had not even heard of three or four of the restaurants on the slate. That’s a problem.
Having a Trader Joe’s open in the region is consistent with the larger goal of the blog. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people who live around here stock up on their favorite TJ’s staples whenever they are returning from a more civilized city. It is disheartening that we do not have one, and perpetuates the perception that Albany is a Podunk town.
But that is just for starters.
In the first FUSSYlittleBALLOT I also urged people to write in an out of state business for best grocery. Last year it was Wegmans. What follows was my rationale then as for now, why it makes sense to tinker around with the Best Local Grocery Store category:
One might argue that only stores that actually have locations within the Capital Region should be receiving votes in this poll. And it is a very valid point. The vast majority of the ballot is for local businesses. But in Albany, there are only two major grocery chains and Walmart. Traditionally it has been a horse race between Price Chopper and Hannaford. Yawn.
People’s grocery shopping habits are pretty fixed. If your favorite local supermarket gets robbed of the 2010 Times Union seal of approval, absolutely nothing is going to happen. There is a lot more at stake for other smaller categories. So if there is any place to take a stand about change, it is here. If a grassroots effort landed a third grocery chain that has no presence in the market on the Times Union’s list, it would send a strong message.
I reject KB @ Home-Baked Happiness’ notion that campaigning for a business I would like to open in the region is “bitter whining.” There is little tolerance for whining in the Fussy household. What I’m doing is quite the opposite of whining. I’m actively engaged in trying to make it happen.
I also reject the notion that Hannaford, Price Chopper, Honest Weight Food Co-op, Pioneer Market, or The Fresh Market are top-notch grocery stores. Yes, each has its strengths. But they also all have significant weaknesses. Frankly I wouldn’t even put HWFC in a grocery store category, but I was more than happy to include them under Best Health-Food Store. They will win that category handily, and be able to enjoy the next year touting their 2011 Best of the Region medallion.
Now here’s the part about the wine. Yes, New York State law forbids selling wine in grocery stores. So how can a reasonable person vote for Trader Joe’s in the category of Best Wine Store?
Easy. You can either look at BJ’s locally or Trader Joe’s in New York City to see how it’s done. Essentially you create a store within a store that just sells the wine. It has a separate register and a separate entrance, but it can be housed within the same building.
Much like the grocery category the wine category is pretty stable. Empire has a strong track record of taking the number one spot, followed by Exit 9. While both of them have large selections and good prices, I personally would rather buy my wine at All Star Wine.
But this ballot is not about my own personal preferences, and I can’t state that enough.
Best teacher, media personalities and otherwise non-reviewed categories were for the most part assembled looking at the results of the past three years of reader’s choice poll results. In those instances where this historical information could be cross-referenced with online reviews or the actual writing of bona fide journalists, it was.
Hopefully today’s post has explained the decision to include Trader Joe’s on the ballot twice and has given you a bit of comfort in supporting the more quixotic part of an idealistic campaign. Despite what Bill said, it is not painfully obvious to me that TJ’s does not want to come here. I believe they ultimately will, and it’s just a matter of time.
Doubling down by including TJ’s in two categories is just a smart way to try and achieve a secondary goal of this effort. Getting them to crack the top three of either category in the Times Union poll this year would be huuuuuge.
Thank you for your consideration. And don’t forget the Tour de Soft Serve is coming. Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 9 at noon. We’ll meet at the Snowman. More details to come later this week.
And finally, for those who concern themselves with such things, you have just finished reading my 600th post. The next big milestone is less than a month away on May 1, when the FUSSYlittleBLOG turns two years old. They grow up so fast.