Guess I'm becoming a Kroger customer.

Our fabulous family-owned supermarket chain in the Richmond area, Ukrop's, was purchased by Giant/Martin's last year. Everyone knew change was a'comin', but I wasn't really sure what to expect. My experience with Giant has mainly been in PA, and I have never really been impressed. Word on the street was that the Ukrop's stores were turning into Martin's, not Giants, but still, same company.

So last week, the change happened. My Ukrop's closed down for a week and a day and reopened this past Monday as a Martin's. Or, excuse me, MARTIN'S. Because it's in all caps everywhere. Which is annoying to start with. (Only LOST can get away with that in my world.)

Today I ventured into Martin's for the first time. Immediate impression: TACKY. Big plastic signs everywhere? Excusable, I suppose, since they need to announce the changeover. Workers wearing lime green shirts, and lime green accents on the shopping carts? Too bright, need sunglasses! That bright green faux grass being used as dividers between the meat? What is this, the 80's? And the price tags stuck to the shelves. Jeez louise, I guess those suckers were on serious sale from their print company, because you almost couldn't see the damn food past them!

And then there's the lighting. And people, I'm gonna be honest. I'm kind of--no, I'm DEFINITELY--weird about lighting in stores. If it's the wrong color, I don't like to shop there. Stores that meet my approval are Walgreen's (not CVS or Rite Aid) and Target (not Wal-Mart or K-Mart), and Ukrop's, Harris Teeter and Kroger (not Food Lion and, now, not Martin's). I don't know what it is exactly... it's yellow-y flourescent lights I don't like in particular (although Wal-Mart doesn't usually have that problem... Wal-Mart is just Wal-Mart). Not that I never go to places of whose lighting I disapprove, I just strongly prefer other places. And my new Martin's has that damn offensive yellow-y flourescent lighting.

Oh, and the kicker, as I was checking out, fully aware that this store was not going to be my weekly go-to grocery spot, I hear the kid working the register next to mine say "I think I need a beer." WHAT?! You can't say that when you work at a store that used to not even SELL alcohol and used to have signs that told everybody to go to church on Sunday! Blasphemy!

All of this means that my Kroger Plus Card is going to be getting a lot more mileage from now on. Unless I need a cake or cupcakes, because, thank GOD, Martin's is still selling Ukrop's baked goods. If they weren't, I'd totally be in mourning.

Farewell, dear Ukrop's, you will be missed.

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