Friday, May 17, 2013

US travels: Memorable Rochester, Raleigh and Indiana shops and shopkeepers

In Rochester (NY) we made a beeline for the Lands End in Sears at the Eastview Mall, where I had bought pants on a Saturday in 2012. We had the most helpful saleswoman, Monica. I was especially impressed because she doesn't work on Saturdays and had just dropped by the store. This year we went on a Friday and found Monica who proved herself to be an awesome salesperson. I bought three pairs of pants, two more than I intended to. I also left with a bathing suit. What a benefit for Lands End. She is perfectly at ease with her merchandise and made me forget that my body after 69 years didn't relish trying on a swimsuit. She also helped Doug buy shorts. If you don't like to shop, need clothes, and know that you can do better than shutting your eyes and hoping for the best with an on-line order seek out Monica (she works weekdays).

Monica - A reason to go to Lands End
In Raleigh we almost drove by the unimposing signs at 3434 Edwards Mill Road (in West Raleigh)  that pointed the way to coffee. In need of our morning coffee we stopped and discovered Groovy Duck Bakery. I groaned when Doug ordered a muffin. I don't particularly like muffins and avoid the calories. When it come to Groovy Duck muffins I was wrong about the taste and every calorie was worthwhile. They were delicious and Doug didn't sneeze - a sign that they were freshly made without preservatives. We perused the displayed cake and ordered the seven layer Boston cream cake for the next night. It was yummy and not overly sweet. Baked goods and pastries so often disappoint, but not here. And what makes any place extra special is the staff. Obviously many shared our opinion. While we sipped our coffee customers kept coming in to buy a muffin or two or pick up a larger order. They make you want to come back and hope that their new business takes off.

Staff at Groovy Duck - Beth owner & baker is in the center

Groovy Duck display case

At the Indy Winter Farmers market in 2012 we stopped at Litterally Divine and bought out their supply of toffee crumbles - broken piece of toffee. We took a bottle along when visited our friends, Arvind and Sandhya, in Wisconsin. I can't remember if the crumbles lasted through the weekend, so we knew what to send Arvind and Sandhya for Christmas.
Suzanne with the crumbles - only a tiny part of what she produce
Alas, in December when I inquired about buying crumbles there were none available,but there might be some in January. So I pre-ordered 2-4 bottles. In late January I received an email announcing that crumbles were available. Litterally Divine mailed four bottles to Wisconsin. Arvind and Sandhya each took two bottles - no sharing. After such a lovely on-line experience we had to go to Greenfield, Indiana to introduce ourselves to Suzanne, again buy out her supply of crumbles, and purchase few packets of toffee and a selection of truffles. Meeting Suzanne and viewing the variety of truffles was awesome; plus Greenfield was a pleasant walkable town.

Greenfield was so inviting we decided to try a local restaurant. Suzanne recommended SoupHerb across the street, owned by another Suzanne. Litterally Divine was quiet, perfect for a chat; SuperHerb was super busy. It was hard to choose from among the soups, quiches, wraps and sandwiches. A nice surprise was when my request to skip the chips was countered by an offer to substitute fruit (grapes, orange, and watermelon).
Suzanne of Soup Herb
My lunch - a turkey wrap

The restaurant space was airy. In a previous life it was a department store. Up on the 3rd floor was a former Masonic Temple. The owner told it was worth a visit. I was torn between which picture to post: the lovely stained glass window or the one depicting a 19th century banker, Nelson Bradley. So I included both.

As we left we saw this sign reminding us of the importance of small businesses ( It certainly captured what made Greenfield and the Groovy Duck Bakery so appealing. Lands End is not a small business, but Monica reminded me that even large stores can have employees that draw you in.

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