Outside the air is warm despite the wind blowing through my hair. It’s unusual weather for a November night in Eugene, and I am grateful for the absence of rain. I tread along the downtown sidewalk as lines of cars occupy the streets. I pass a group of drunk homeless men and women as one man asks me to stop so he can ask me a question. The rest stare. I keep walking.
I arrive at my destination on 11th and Olive. There are people entering and exiting the building ahead of me as I observe the scene. They seem to be experienced shoppers; This is my first time.
As I open the double glass doors, I am greeted by a warm gust of air. The smell of incense mixed with spices reaches my nose as classical music rings in my ears. What I find is everything in one place: In one glance I see books, Hanukkah decorations, wine, gourmet food, and lotion.
Where am I? I ask myself. I see two employees at two identical registers in front of me, one dressed in a green crocheted hat, plain green shirt, and green peasant skirt. The other is wearing a loud striped shirt and jeans complemented by stringy brown hair. The register’s computer screens seem to be the only modern element in sight.
As I look around, shoppers seem to have adopted this mentality of ‘anything goes.’ It is a relaxed mentality that must be free of judgment, I assume to myself.
The mismatched, eclectic outfits match the assortment of items. As I walk down an aisle, natural lotions are mixed with glassware as wine turns into organic pastas and coffee. I pass other shoppers in tie-dye, floor-length skirts and handkerchiefs. I overhear conversations between employees and customers about family, horoscopes, Facebook, and the like. They know each other on a first name basis.
I spend most of my time observing the wide collection of books housed on multiple book cases
in one corner of the store. Topics range from politics to religion, from food to culture, history to science. A patchwork rocking chair stands in one corner, looking worn from years of use. I sit and observe. An employee sweeps the checkered floor to pass the time.
Where can you find groceries, wine and books in one location? I am at Eugene’s downtown grocery store, a locally owned and operated merchant since 1970. This is your alternative grocer, offering specialty, gourmet and organic foods, fresh organic produce, bulk foods, more than 200 deli meats and cheeses, wine, champagne and beer, and an assortment of books. There are lots and lots of books.
Where am I?
I am at downtown Eugene’s The Kiva.