Most obviously, a chain of grocery stores started by Joe Ukrop in 1937, located only in the Richmond, Va area but slowly branching outward.

Ukrop's is not just merely a store, however. It's a state of mind; it's a way of thinking; it's a life philosophy. Ukrop's is the embodiment of pretentious friendliness, as is obvious whenever you enter one of the stores and you're greeted by a huge smile and a "how are y'all doing today?". Ukrop's trains their employees to always be happy, happy, happy. But however much they push your cart for you, and smile, you know it's the worst kind of sticky sweet emotional syrup. Utterly fake.

Ukrop's can also be used as a descriptive word, as in: "In my opinion, A&N is trying to be the Ukrop's of sporting goods stores."

It's really a Richmond thing.

Some key facts about Ukrop's:

Their Fredericksburg location has apparently not been as successful as they'd hoped. Other than being in a bad location within the city, I can't help but think that perhaps Lynchburg would have been a better expansion target than Fredericksburg. IMHO, no alcohol and closed-on-Sunday would go over pretty well in the land of Jerry Falwell.

A huge moral conflict manifested in the innocuous form of a grocery chain. I love Ukrop's, though it is not "hip" to admit this. I love the clean, well-stocked aisles, the flunkies that carry your stuff out to your car and are trained to refuse tips, and perhaps most of all the enormous amount of pre-prepared food that is actually really good that saves endless effort on my part when packing lunches.

Even though my home store, the Petersburg location which is showing its age in a major way when compared with the glitzy new locations in suburban enclaves like Williamsburg and Colonial Heights, is admittedly lacking in a lot of the glamor of the larger stores (most notably in its omission of the great selection of organic and international foods available at other stores), I still like it because they carry all the ice cream I like and also because its the only grocery store anywhere in the Petersburg area where you don't have to wait far too long to make your purchases from incompetent cashiers at filthy stores.

Yeah, I know this puts me in the line of fire from the violently conservative population of the Richmond area, but I will admit that the ceaselessly saccharine "family values" philosophy bugs me a bit. I have more than once flinched at its being unavailable on Sunday, forcing me to trek down to the Petersburg Wal-Mart Supercenter (of the notoriously never-open "express lane") and wait in line 20 minutes to buy some apples and a box of Lucky Charms. But all in all, its a pretty awesome grocery store. Working there is just not a particularly good idea, unless you happen to embrace their policy of corporate fascism.

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