A fading helpful smile

In 1984, a new Hy Vee store opened on the corner of Minnesota Avenue and 33rd Street here in Sioux Falls.

Since that time, I have been a loyal Hy Vee customer. And that Hy Vee has been my Hy Vee. I recognize its layout – its idiosyncrasies, its odd way of organizing, its changes and updates. I used to rent video after video, Nintendo games – and then Super Nintendo games – at its video rental counter. Later, when that counter turned into a floral boutique, I bought my flowers there. I grew up knowing there was a helpful smile in every aisle. Every aisle.

Over the years, we’ve gone elsewhere for more specialized items. After all, this Hy Vee was the smallest in town, and it didn’t have everything that the larger branches contained. There was no bank and no healthcare provider. There was no health food section. There was barely a mailing center, and the customer service counter was hardly a speck on the back wall.

But above everything, that Hy Vee was my childhood grocery store. It’s the first place I ever thought to go when I needed food. And even though it’s just a grocery store, I hold fond memories of it – of walking through its cold aisles during a sweltering heat wave and of choosing fish to grill while holding a six pack of Grain Belt Premium.

It’s a memory now, for sure. Yesterday was the last day it was open. And, in the face of sweeping change and improvement, another of my childhood haunts has moved. Disappeared. Wiped clean and replaced with an Avera Medical Equipment storage area.

I can’t be sad for long, though. The coziness and quaintness of my childhood Hy Vee will be long forgotten. Because now, just a few blocks down, a giant new grocery store is about to open – a Hy Vee of epic proportions. Cooking classes, CuraQuick health care, specialized sections for health food, baby items and alcohol.

Sure, I’ll miss the old, cracked linoleum, the smell of floor wax at two in the morning as they’re refinishing the tiles and the sub-zero freezer temperatures.

Not for long, though. I may be a sucker for nostalgia, but I’m an even bigger sucker for convenience.

(Not paid for by Hy Vee. I promise.)

This was lovingly handwritten on March 19th, 2007