Alaska – the everything store (25)

“Well, what should we do then?” Chris asked.

It wasn’t quite 10, and the motel said that we wouldn’t have a room until noon. It still wasn’t quite time for lunch, so we had yet another hour to kill.

“We should go back and see Fred Meyer’s. We can shop until it’s time for lunch.”

Wasilla had more places to shop than when I lived there. Wasilla has a right to be called, even if my no one else but me, the Strip Mall of Alaska. The ‘strip’ would be the Parks Highway, but still.  They’d closed down the real non-strip mall of my youth, but in an early trend adopting move, they’d fully stocked the area with big  box stores. A full Sears, a full Super Walmart, a Home Depot, the already discussed Carr’s grocery store. And then there is Fred Meyer’s.

There had been a Fred Meyer’s in Anchorage for a long time, even when I was a teenager. But when I was an adult (barely) they opened it up to be a full service Fred’s. Grocery store!

So that was ..gasp…15 years ago. And Fred Meyer’s has made a good relationship with Alaska. On their website they advertise bush delivery. Next day even, as long as the bush  planes are flying.

I had been wanting Chris to see the inside of a Fred’s. I’d described it to him before, but really, it was something you have to experience.

Where we live now, Super Walmarts are feared and protested against.  In fact, there was a long grocery store strike because the owners were tightening belts against the onslaught of Walmart carrying grocery-store items. The workers struck for cherry benefits, and it went on for months. In the end, the workers just gave up because unions have little-to-no power on the west coast anymore.

Anyway, the Super Walmart idea is to have a full grocery store with dairy, produce and everything in the same store with all the usual Walmart things–which means everything.

Chris and I had encountered a super Walmart on our trip to Yellowstone in Bozeman Montana. But Bozeman is small. And their walmart was small,  comparatively.

As a shopper, I was familiar with the idea of having everything in one store-BECAUSE I’D EXPERIENCED IT IN FRED MEYERS. In Anchorage. I thought it was a great idea, very convenient and it should come to Los Angeles already.

I hadn’t been to Wasilla since the Fred’s opened there. I wondered what this one would look like.

So I wanted Chris to see this. We wound our way back to the Fred Meyers and entered through the side next to the garden center.

Garden center! Landscaping. My former city was civilizing itself. Hard to believe.

So we went inside, and beheld a store that had a slightly more finished interior than a Costco. The floors were covered, not just plain concrete, and the shelved contained inventory that was not still Plastic-wrapped. But that was the extent of the polish.

Directly in front of us were couches. Full upholstered, huge-armed couches that Chris and I had learned to associate with living rooms that were not cramped for space. To the right, we saw large packages of assorted fireworks. To the left, fishing tackle and hip-waders.

We walked over to the couch. “Not bad.” I said.

Further on we found an entire aisle of identical dining chairs stacked seat to seat. Further on was an aisle of insect repelling devices.

“We need to get you a maternity muumuu from Alaska” Chris was delighted with the thought. “Where are the clothes?”

We walked through aisles of dizzying diversity, took a right at the deli, bakery, and espresso counter and found the clothes. We looked through the ladies section, and though there was a large selection of large sizes, I couldn’t find the maternity.

I spotted a store employee and asked her “Where is your maternity section?”

“We don’t have one.”



I guess it wasn’t an everything store after all.