San Pab Diaries: 99¢ Recessionomix

on March 17, 2009

Maybe it’s the parking tickets I’ve been racking up (yo– for a peace and love hippie town Berkeley parking po-po sure got some Gestapo tendencies), or the fact that Bank of America stole $215 from me in overdraft fees for $7 worth of actual overdraft, or the fact that frankly I’m convinced que alguién me echó un mal de ojo and I need a pinche limpia to undo the money curse I got on me right now. Regardless, I am a broke-ass Recession Era student who still needs to eat.

So when the occasional free pastries and coffee, turkey sandwiches and if I’m lucky beer or wine leftover from school functions don’t cut it, and any kind of market –be it super or farmers– is a luxury, I head over to San Pab and University and step through the automatic doors of the 99¢ Only store.

I gotta say, in NYC I used to live in Washington Heights, which I think has the highest concentration of 99-cent stores per square block in the world, and 99¢ Only on San Pab puts ’em to shame.

The reason?  This is the first 99-cent store I ever seen with produce, son! I’m talkin not just shiny waxy apples and plastic wrapped lettuce, but chayote and cilantro and tomatillo too! Straight up, whoever stocks this place loves Mexicans. Or maybe they are Mexican. I gotta find out. They got pan dulce in the bread section, powdered sugar galletas de boda, a whole shelf of Mexican spices, even chile y limón coated corn nuts. And these really good jarred mushrooms which aren’t Mexican but still spicy enough to please a Mexican.

Maybe it’s a Cali thing. All I know is that as long as I switch off my “this food is cheap and on San Pab cuz its prolly toxic” filter, I breathe a sigh of relief and walk out with enough groceries to make it through the week, usually for under 20 bux. Plus they got the usual generic shampoos, assorted housewares and random coloring books that make 99-cent shopping an adventure. And in these rough times, who couldn’t use a 99-cent adventure?

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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