My daughter attended a dance class in Charlotte on Tuesday evening. After dropping her off, I found myself with a few hours to kill, so I drove over to check out the brand new Fresh Market. The store is lovely and filled with an abundance of delightful smells and delicious foods; it is a feast for the senses and even more so- if you’re a foodie.
While I was admiring all of the new products and choosing a few fancy things for my family to eat, I remembered back to 1994 when I frequented their Knoxville, Tennessee store.
I guess I was an oddball because I watched Julia Child as a kid and loved to go to the grocery store (especially gourmet stores, like the Fresh Market who stocked exotic ingredients).
Back then, about all I could afford from the Fresh Market was the free coffee they gave you in a Dixie Cup. I remember walking down the isles, studying the spices, fancy sugars, and gourmet sauces and thinking to myself, someday, I am going to be able to come in here and buy anything I want!
At that time, I was dating a young man who just graduated from UT and had his first “real job.” It was a week before Thanksgiving, and he and I were having lunch in Knoxville. He asked me what I wanted to do next and I suggested that we go by the Fresh Market so that I could buy some bargain bin flowers for my Mama’s Thanksgiving table. He then piped up and said “oh! I have something you will love!’ And he reached into his glove box and pulled out a $35 gift certificate to the Fresh Market. His new employer had given all of the employees one for the holiday. He handed it to me and said: “ Here, you can have it.”
Well, if he had just given me a diamond bracelet, I don’t know if I would have been as happy as I was with that $35 gift certificate to the Fresh Market. It wasn’t just a universal gift card; I HAD to spend it all at that gourmet grocery store!
I couldn’t just go in there and buy impulse items; Careful thought had to go into what I would purchase. That evening I went home, made out a list of recipes I wanted to make, and the next day, I went back and selected the fancy ingredients. I can’t remember most of what I bought, but I do remember having a feeling of pure luxury when I bought it.
It probably seems silly to some, but that experience and the feeling will remain etched in my mind forever. You never know just how much you can touch a person by giving them a simple gift.
Oh! And that young man? I married him the following year.