Down on the Corner

Posted on September 22, 2008 – 4:52 PM | by OldManFoster
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By Guphy Gufstafson

WallpaperIn August my thoughts turn to ice cold beer…. But honestly, my thoughts are always on ice cold beer. What better place to get your fix than the local corner store? Most carry the same things: trucker hats, incense, novelty lighters, 30 different kinds of lottery tickets, one kind of toilet paper, one kind of cat food, a selection of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes and most importantly, popsicles. Each store, like each of us, is special in its own way. 

According to calculations done in my head while riding my bike home yesterday, there have to be at least 30 corner stores on the grid. And I love them all. Even you, Food and Liquor sketchmart on 20th and H (or whatever you are calling yourself now), even you. (That whatever it’s called on the corner of Broadway and Alhambra is not on the grid and can  shove it where the sun never shines.)

On the grid, there is a law against the selling of beers outside of a six pack , unless you are the original owner of the store. Forty ouncers count as singles. The law was passed in 1995 to quell the homeless problem. Thank God they did that! Remember when there were drunken homeless people downtown? What a disaster that was, right? Fortunately there are a few places that you can buy less than a sixer, but it seems that if the craft beer movement is going to gain any momentum, this law needs to be repealed. Imagine stopping into a beer shop and picking up a six pack of different craft beers, like you can at Corti Brothers.

Here is a list of some of my favorite stores:

Rodney’s (10th and J) was my first corner store. They have a large array of liquor, cigars and magazines. They are well located for grabbing a pocket bottle for the concert in the park. Which, my lawyer would like you to know is illegal and possibly immoral.

Save-RiteSave- Rite Market’s (19th and G) vintage exterior is a real eye-catcher and inside they provide friendly service. It is resplendent with tchotchkes. Of course, they have your run of the mill lighter shaped like a gun or a football, but they also feature beautiful decorative personal items, like a rose cast in resin bottle opener that would be a perfect gift to a kitsch-loving writer.

Lee Hardware and Mini Market (10th and S) makes the list simply for quirk factor. Where else can you get a HoHo and a can of spray paint? Pick up a plunger and some lunchmeat while you are at it. Mrs Lee carries the delicious Mr Brown’s ice coffee in a can. Buy some cans of these and stow them at the bottom of your cooler while camping. Mr Brown has delicious waking-up powers, and while Mr Brown will not cure your hangover, he always makes you feel good.

Sun UpThe Sun Up Market (26th and T) is currently my favorite market downtown. They are friendly, they have a peculiar way with a six pack and they recently added a bike rack. (The Pacific Market on 24th and P recently got a rack also. Is there somebody marketing bike racks to corner stores? If so, hats off from the biking and drinking community.)
Years ago, I was at a party on T Street and we ran to get beer. Just a few minutes after the Sun Up had closed, the owner sold us a sixpack for 10 bucks* through the door. It was not the current owner because, once again, it was illegal. And wrong. And as if that wasn’t enough for the Sun Up to get my everlasting love, they sell Pabst Tall Boys, which make me feel like a toddler drinking a beer. Comedy gold, folks!

Sunny'sSunny’s Deli Mart (28th and G) doesn’t really make sandwiches. Or at least I have never seen anyone order one. Don’t be the first. I’ve heard a rumor about porn in the back but I haven’t really looked into it. The current Sunny is cute; I don’t want him thinking of me as a lady perv.  They also have a selection of vintage greeting cards that are worth a look. 

The Peace Market (18th and O) still has beautiful blue tile on the outside, but tragically have recently replaced their sign. This place enchanted me when I first moved here as a young hippie. I once walked over from 14th and G because at the time it was the only place in town to get Nag Champa incense (those were the days, right?). In my mind, there was something so spiritual about the place, despite the porn and professional wrestling on teevee. I was deep back then. My favorite cashier, like the sign, has been replaced. He was a jovial fellow. Once, a friend and I were discussing who should pay for the beer and he said, “The people who live in the neighborhood buy for the people who live outside the neighborhood.” Indeed! Thank you, corner store Miss Manners!

Finally, the A & P (21st and K) is the most exciting liquor store A&Pin town. Due to their proximity to many good time party bars, there is usually a line and something remarkable to see;  people falling down, making out, dancing, prancing, singing, whatever. It is careening mayhem, like waiting in line for the bathroom at a huge party. It is sometimes scary, sometimes loud, but the beer is always cold and the company is always interesting. If you need a distraction or focus, check out the amazing wallpaper.

Honorable mentions:

C and B Liquors (19th and Broadway) is so willing to sell you a keg they have one hanging from their sign. This keg may be even cheaper than one  at  the chain in the suburbs and you will save scrilla by driving less, not to mention the old supporting local biz angle. Also, you can pick up a sweet new doo rag while you are there. Throw your keg in the car, throw on the new rag and you are gold!

Tower Liquor (16th and Broadway) has a sign I love featuring a raffia wrapped bottle of wine. I don’t think you can really get those anymore, which is a huge bummer. I picture myself rolling up to a house party with one of those hanging on either side of my handlebars. Once I went there and picked up three fancy 24 ouncers and when I got to the counter, I found they were a whopping $3.50 each, I was heading to put one back when the counter fellow offered, “Three for 10!” this, to me, sounded like quite a bargain, so I took it. Strangely, I did pretty well in college.

The Shopper’s Market (14th and G) has a good selection of brew including Lone Star which I haven’t ever seen outside huge liquor supermarkets in the suburbs. They sell singles.

The Blue Store (12th and U) serves up singles and a mean chop suey. They keep their beer prices low, but they close early.

And as much as I loathe the Pine Cove Bottle Shop’s (29th and E) stance on French wines and S.P.I.N. (whatever that is) they do sell singles and also fancy Canadian cigarettes, if you are into that kind of thing. They are also open pretty late and may have a hot dog cart outside, if you are lucky.

I hope this article has somehow inspired you to get some brew at your local corner store, get it cold and sit back and enjoy an August night. Hell, pick up some strawberry incense while you are there, somebody has to be buying that crap.

* Things are expensive on the black market!

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