Chow Bella

Gross Out: Blood in the aisles at a 99 Cent Only Store

by Amy Silverman

Look, I know times are tough. Money's tight. I'm happy to shop the clearance racks at Target, buy my kids' shoes at Last Chance and fork over my Safeway card to save a few pennies, even though it means some creepy marketing types will know my family subsists on Carnation Instant Breakfast, Diet Coke and Lorna Doones.

But I can't buy groceries at a 99 cent store, particularly after a day of reading county inspection reports. True, some 99 cents-ers do fine, but quite a few fail their inspections.

My favorite failing grade comes from the 99 Cent Only Store at 1240 E. Indian School Road. I'm not sure the place is even open anymore -- all I get is a busy signal when I call -- but if it is, you might want to avoid anything edible. And be careful where you step. The store has repeatedly received "no award" inspections from Maricopa County's restaurant inspection team (they're dispatched all over the place, it turns out, even to the county jail -- a most boring report there, I'm sad to say).

This particular dispatch, dated May 9, starts off rather run-of-the-mill:

SEVERAL DENTED CANS (BEANS, CHILI, ETC) AND YOGURT CONTAINERS WERE HEAVILY DENTED AND DAMAGED ON THE SEAMS. THE CANS AND YOGURT WERE OUT ON THE AISLES FOR SALE. MANAGER IS DISCARDING ALL DAMAGED ITEMS.

But the next comment is what caught my eye (and imagination):

THE AISLES HAD DRIED BLOOD RESIDUE IN AISLES 1-5 AS A REMAINDER FROM THE INCIDENT THE PREVIOUS DAY. EMPLOYEES WASHED AND SANITIZED FLOORS THOROUGHLY.

Incident? Carnage at the 99 Cent Only Store? A rush on 99 cent yogurt?

No wonder the containers were dented.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.