The city centre (ok, fringe city centre) has a new New World! Not that we didn’t have a New World before but that was an old New World in the tired South City and now we have a new New World across the road from the old New World, and phew that’s all a bit of a confusion isn’t it.
This ‘EVENT’ has been some time in the making with this new-build up on the corner of Durham and Moorhouse being sign-written, and looking completed, since Christmas. I get the hype, but wow you’d think by the way I’ve seen some going on about it, and peoples expressions of bewilderment and awe as they walk around the shop, that it was the most significant thing to happen in the rebuild to date.
The store opened on Wednesday and everything seemed to be running smoothly except for a big chunk of self-serve checkouts not being open (probably a blessing). The staff seem to have been given the ‘Disney pep-talk’ when it comes to being in character, playing the part of chirpy, cheeky, local neighbourhood butcher and the likes, which is commendable given some of the rude assholes I saw in there on my brief visit (no need to be rude just cos you don’t like to eat salad for lunch, mate). butcher’ etc. which is commendable as I bet they see some right assholes. I was only in there 20 minutes and I saw plenty (there’s no need to be a dick about a salad bar, mate, just because you don’t really know what feta is).
I guess people had been talking up the new shop like it was gonna be the Harrods food hall – ground breaking! posh as hell! the pinnacle of class! Which is dumb as it’s still a place where your average person goes to do their Big Shop. It’s not Merivale.
And whilst there are some bourgeois touches – loose leaf earl grey in the bulk bins, three-hundred-and-something types of craft beer, Parisian style patisserie, twenty kinds of tonic water in dainty glass bottles that make it almost cheaper to just drink in a bar (not that I’m bitter) – on the whole it was still very standard, and in some instances I was surprised by the lack of choice when it came to things like artisan chocolate and yoghurt (wow will you listen to me, what an insufferable middle-class avocado-scoffing millennial) .
The things I have seen people go on about the most in this opening this week – the sustainable, eco-conscious, healthy, fresh options like a self-serve salad bar, cleaning product refill station, nut butter machines and high quality, practical, bulk bin options – they’re talking about like they are a new, revolutionary, development in the consumer experience. But the reality is that we actually already had these things 20+ years ago.
I mean there has always been and always will be Bin Inn, but do you remember Big Fresh? Cracked City had two branches back in the day before it got bought out by Countdown / Foodstuffs in the early 00’s. That supermarket was all about those ethical, sustainable, consumer controlled, products – bulk bins, salad bars, onsite bakery, and peanut butter machines. This was the 90’s! When no-one had internet! When we still watched VHS! When Friends was brand new! What’s more is that you ALSO got a song and dance routine from a incredibly menacing animatronic vegetable and his merry gang of creatures (but that’s a whole other story and the Spinoff did a piece on it already).
Big Fresh was wasted on us!
I don’t know the Big Fresh story and why they did away with the ‘fresh’ part when the buy-out happened – I guess just another big corporate fish swallowing up the smaller independents. They were really onto something and ahead of their time, when you think about it. It was progressive as hell. It’s pretty fucking bleak to be here now, 20 years later and see everyone talking about these services and options that we used to have, and squandered, right as we face more and more reports on how screwed our planet it. That’s two decades of environmental progress, wasted. Think how far along we’d be now if we’d stuck with the Big Fresh concept, if Foodstuffs had seen the worth in this packaging-free, locally sourced, avenue. I can’t help but wonder if single use bags would have been many years ago, rather than in 2019 and what developments we’d have happening today that we’re probably still not gonna see for another 5 years.
Anyway. I’m not here to give a lengthy rant about the environment, you should probably just go and read something like this. No, I’m here to log the opening of a new World – so let’s just leave it at ‘better late than never’ with a smattering of ‘put your money where your mouth is and use these services’ to consumers.
What can you say about a supermarket? The new New World is nice. It’s well laid out. It functions. It sells bread and dog food and toothpaste.
It’ll be handy when they get around to building those hundreds of apartments and townhouses in the residential frames and thousands of young people can afford to purchase property and live in the CBD won’t it *cough cough*.
I got a tasty wee $5.99 self-serve salad that I could put a shit load of pickles in, like some kind of antipodean Miranda Hobbs, so I’m happy.
But it’s still just a supermarket.
To everyone crowing on about it like it’s the second coming, and it being the thing to finally get them venturing into the four avenues for the first time in years as a result – like it’s the most exciting thing to happen to the area in recent years – perhaps calm your tits?
Don’t get me wrong. If a new New World is the thing to get you back into the city, I’ll take it! Hurrah! Welcome! Enjoy! Tell your friends!
But I ask this – how about, before you do your shop, you take a stroll ten minutes up Durham Street towards the central city, and along the pedestrianized river promenade. Marvel at the beauty of the restored town hall. Enjoy some public sculptures . Walk the east frame and take in the fruit trees, rain gardens and bees. Take a look around Tūranga then go grab a $10 Thali plate from Shree Jagannath, before heading back to your car and your new New World.
Once you’ve done all that then let’s talk about mind blowing, exhilarating, progress in the past 12 months of the rebuild and how great $6 salad bars are.
New World has come a really long way, and is doing great things, but I sure do miss that giant swinging Orangutan of Big Fresh.