When I lived in Salisbury, N.C., an old-time grocery store was a five-minute walk from my duplex. Pope & Arey had
sign at entrance to bickett market near five points, raleigh nc
worn wooden floors and minimal grocery items, but the draws were the meats and, to a lesser extent, produce. Most of the meats didn’t come from big companies because P&A was a small, independent place. It was the first time I got a sense that chicken could taste different from the stuff in the garish supermarket packages. The guys behind the butcher counter could tell you how to cook anything, from the sausage they ground in the store (scooped from a mound molded to look like a pig) to a fancy roast. I still use the method they recommended when I have occasion to roast a standing rib.
I thought about P&A when I walked into Bickett Market, a new Raleigh, N.C. market near Five Points. The wooden floors of the building for one thing. But mostly that the produce, meats, breads and seafood, and a handful of condiments and other prepared items, are local. In some cases, the produce is extremely local. The market works with New Grass Gardens, a company that specializes in edible landscapes. “A lot of it is grown in my yard by New Grass, and other yards in the neighborhood,” says Jason Stegall of the market.
The owners visit farms and select the pigs for the market’s pork offerings, including lard, which a recent missive to the store’s email list called it “ten times better than the best butter you have ever tasted…the all-natural fat is actually healthy for you.” Well, I don’t know about that health claim, but it does show the hands-on aspect of the market and their enthusiasm for products. The store also offers French Label Rouge heritage chickens from Triple T Farms in Fuquay-Varina, free-range eggs, coffee and roasted cornmeal from Muddy Dog Coffee Roasters, and other goodies.
There’s a variety of local items – but don’t expect everything to be there all the time. Many of the items are available in small amounts – produce, especially, as the weather and season dictate. Stegall says that most customers at the store, which has been open since mid-July, “get it,” that all-local, all-the-time can mean variability. Bickett received an unexpected number of shoppers recently due to an online coupon promotion, and Stegall said some shoppers brought in by the coupon didn’t understand why some items were sold out.
It’s not easy to get to the market with the current road construction in the area, but there’s plenty of room once you get there. And for the neighborhood, it’s a real asset. Find out more about the market here, and sign up for the email list to find out the latest on what’s in the store.