Both Heidi Abrahamson and Robrt Pela have lived in Phoenix for a long time. Both appreciate old things. But while Abrahamson is mourning the loss of her favorite grocery store, Pela can't wait to see it go. A farewell from two perspectives to the Bashas' on Seventh Avenue and Osborn Road:
Where else can you buy a gorgeous 'hamburger with fries' cake, and Elephant Ears that were just like the ones at the Cakebox Bakery in Seymour, Indiana, when I was a kid, not to mention that all-American ham salad that was just like the one I had in grade school?
They had cream puffs and eclairs for less and just as good as AJ's without the snobbery. Their "French" bread was not, but it was tasty — with poppy seeds on top.
I got my birthday cake from Bashas' last year, and what a debacle. I showed them on paper what I wanted. Just simple block letters; I wouldn't dare say "architectural script," as I didn't want to confuse them more. "No flowers, no embellishment, at all. Just the letters in chocolate on white."
They couldn't help themselves. It was the weirdest collection of block, uppercase, lowercase, and cursive lettering I'd ever seen. Scrolls and doodads on the side. What could I say?
I scraped it clean and redecorated it by sprinkling a constellation of silver balls of sugar. It was beautiful and appropriate and it tasted good. Sure, I could buy a cake from Tammie Coe, but she's always so rude. Why would I put myself through that? To me, that's worse. Life is too short.
We talked to a man who worked there for years, bought a house, raised his kids while working for Bashas'. He had a grateful attitude with misty eyes.
We heard from another employee, with a tone of relief, that the building won't be torn down. The building next door, yes, for condos, but Bashas' and [the long-ago closed restaurant] China Doll will be redone for retail.
Even with the creepy, sometimes sketchy, customers, I liked this small store. The employees were always kind, helpful, and eager to please. At this Bashas', there was a genuine quality about their employees, unlike the huge chain boxes that take up your afternoon to get from one end to the other. I liked it because it was small.
So we went, for one last time.
I’m with all of you who think we probably don’t need another multi-unit condominium complex in downtown Phoenix. (What, are 40,000 people on their way here, and need a place to live immediately?) And I understand about loyalty to a place; I’m the guy who’s been going to the same dry cleaner for 30 years, even though they charge too much and occasionally lose a sweater.
And lest you forget, I’m also that man who has made his living whining about pretty much every old building that’s been torn down here the past decade or so.
But about that smelly old Bashas’ on Seventh Avenue: It was a crap-hole, and I’m glad to see it go.
I know because I used to shop there. I’ve lived downtown since 1984, and — at least compared to other big-city central cores — there have been precious few grocery store choices down here. But that Bashas’ was awful. Dirty and understaffed, its only appeal was for shoppers in search of bruised bananas and generic laundry soap. (Who is washing their whites with something called Lavender Duz?).
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Their store brand selection was dreary, their sales never marked down any product I wanted, and the layout of the place was as confusing as its product placement. (Why were the birthday candles in the cereal aisle? Did I really see an endcap of coloring books in produce?)
The parking lot was the most indecisive place I’ve ever left my car. I never found a pair of matching painted lines, but there was no shortage of potholes. The lighting was dreadful, apparently designed to make everything look old and unappetizing. Because I made it a point never to buy anything that an employee of this place might have touched, I can’t tell you anything about the Bashas’ bakery or the moistness of its rotisserie chickens. I can tell you that just thinking about eating a snickerdoodle from that place gives me chills.
Eventually, a Safeway opened up at Seventh Street and McDowell, and I started buying my groceries there.
It’s a palace compared to that awful dungeon that’s about to become the ground floor of another big box store.