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Lileks: Welcome, Partial Foods!

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS
  • Star Tribune
  • September 28, 2013 - 5:17 PM

You’ll find no bigger downtown booster than me — taller, maybe — but the coverage of Whole Foods’ arrival on Hennepin Avenue would be understandable if the general manager was revealed to be a Nazarene carpenter who had finally returned as promised.

It also overshadows another opening downtown, a store that had the misfortune to open its doors the same day. I refer, of course, to Partial Foods.

“It’s a new idea in grocery retailing,” said Bob Segmunt, the store’s owner. “Unlike stores that call their food ‘organic’ and charge higher prices, we stock only certified inorganic food and pass the savings on to you. See this produce? All wax. That means the apple you buy today will be as fresh and inedible in a month as it is today.”

But is it certified inorganic? Segmunt insists it is and shows the receipt from Michael’s craft store as proof. But that’s not all Partial Foods sells.

“True to our name, nothing here is whole. Who finishes a jar of mayo? No one. So we’ve opened it up and spooned some out. You know the old complaint about hot dogs coming in packs of eight and buns sold in wads of six? Got a guy who cuts up the packages and takes out two wieners.

“It’s different with cereal — a lot of people like our Raisin Bran, which is just Bran; turns out it’s pretty time-intensive to take them out by hand, so we’re looking into automation.”

But people could add their own raisins, right? “Well, we don’t sell raisins per se; we have Partial Raisins, which are basically old grapes. But they’re on their way!”

The store adds 35 jobs to downtown — none full-time, but they do include health insurance. (“For your arms and left foot and the teeth in your jaw,” Bob notes.)

Customers seem to like the idea, although the shopping baskets are confusing many — most lack bottoms — and the open areas of the floor that lead straight to the basement aren’t marked as well as they should be.

Note: Partial Foods is temporarily closed, as it opened without doors or half a roof; weather, rodents and thieves have depleted much of its stock. But it’s a great addition to downtown, and no review of Partial Foods would be complete if it didn’t mention —

 

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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