Is there any place in Canberra that epitomises what the nation's capital is all about more than Dickson Woolies?
On a recent visit I saw Government Services Minister Bill Shorten waiting by the deli counter. Another time I asked a woman crouched by the sliding doors, with a sign asking for help, if she wanted any toiletry items.
"I'm out of pods for my coffee maker," she said, "if you're offering."
No. I was not.
Dickson has always been my supermarket of choice, I've never strayed far from the inner north in my adult grocery buying life. And it's always been Woolworths.
Growing up in country NSW, there was a great divide between those of us who started our working lives at Woolworths, and those at Coles.
We were just better. The smart ones, who soon got sorted out by the full-time staff, given shifts in the deli, or pushed into bins of rotting fruit and vegetables.
Those were the days. Only made better by accidentally dropping packets of Tim Tams when we were packing shelves and writing them off as damaged goods, goods we were allowed to take home.
I kind of feel at home in Dickson Woolworths. I was lost for a while when they refurbished it a couple of years ago, moving products around, changing up the aisles.
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But now we've settled into a routine. Even though I occasionally think the frozen goods section still seems like an afterthought, stuck on that far wall.
I've always been fascinated by the science of supermarkets, the sneaky ways they get us to spend more money on things we don't really need.
From impulse buys at the checkout, to putting the more expensive brands at "grab level". One piece of advice for savvy shoppers is to look down.
In this sense, Dickson is no different to any other supermarket. What gives it a special place in my heart are my fellow shoppers.
Wander in there late at night and there'll be people in their pyjamas. Sometimes during the day too.
I never think of changing out of my ugg boots and trackie pants if that's what I'm wearing before I head there.
Imagine dressing like that at Coles in Manuka. Unheard of.
And when SummerNats is on, or the National Folk Festival, or any other large gathering on the northside, it's the place to be. Watching the bogans stock up on chips and soft drinks, and the folkies buying bottled water and toilet paper.
I love people-watching as I cruise the aisles, young, old, families, busy looking people with a full basket over one arm and their phone in the other, pensioners who the staff seem to know by name.
We're just one big happy family.
For a while I was a dedicated online shopper, even before COVID. I was a busy working mother who didn't have time for trips to the supermarket.
But now there's nothing I love more than wandering aimlessly. Seeing what looks good in the fresh produce section (but don't get me started on how it all looks good). Leeks, broccolini, raspberries, being able to gently squeeze an avocado.
Or those shelves up the back near the barbecue chickens. That's my new favourite spot. There's a little section with proper cheese. Nothing like Ainslie IGA, to be sure, but it's a start.
There are weird dips and spreads, charcuterie, tubs of marinated fetta.
The science of supermarkets tells me I'd do well to shop around the edges.
I'm keenly waiting to see what the opening of the new shopping precinct means for Dickson.
It's looking pretty schmick. Dickson Village they've named it. Apparently there'll be a Coles, a Liquorland and smaller retail shops.
And more car parks. Something Dickson desperately needs. Almost 450 more apparently.
A build-to-rent residential component is also planned for the upper levels.
I like the idea of it being called a village. That's how the whole place makes me feel. Like part of a very daggy community, where you just might see someone kinda famous waiting for some ham.
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