Posted by: Addison – Jul 17, 2012
Blue Wheeler Market & Deli
3120 East Marshall St.
The Blue Wheeler has been around forever. I used to live a block from it back in ‘95, but never went to Big Blue, as I called it, because back then there was a lot of street-level drug dealing out front. Now, those days are over, and the Blue Wheeler is frequented by everybody. I’m talking everybody from ladies with babies in a stroller and the local handyman who has a tricky little drinking problem, to anarchist kids and MCV Dental School students. The Blue Wheeler has evolved into a neighborhood cornerstone. It features nice service, along with beer, cigarettes, sodas, chips, and snacks galore. By the way, you are correct--the Blue Wheeler has the lottery.
823 N. 24th St.
Bloomfield is one of the best old-school corner markets in Church Hill. Located in North Church Hill/Union Hill, Bloomfield's is a throw back. They've got everything as far as snacks and cigs, but I'm not sure about booze. I will certainly hit up this beauty as soon as possible. The picture is courtesy of Church Hill People's News. Thank you John Murden.
515 Chimborazo Blvd.
Who says Church Hill doesn’t have a supermarket? Okay, it’s not Ukrop’s, but that was a bygone era. Chimbo, which is in the Chimborazo Park section of Church Hill, has been around forever and is a lovely part of Chimborazo Park lore. I used to live not far from this bastion in the back of Church Hill, and Chimbo has more than one would think. Of course they’ve got milk, cheese, eggs, beer, wine, malt liquor, cigarettes, soda and bologna, but they also have produce. It may not be Trader Joes, but it is in Chimborazo Park. In case you haven’t noticed, Chimborazo Boulevard has gone from a ruthless drug infested neighborhood to a beautiful urban sanctuary with renovated homes that have flower pots on the front porch and decorative banner flags draped over the front steps. Great for the neighborhood, I guess, but I did prefer it back in the day, when it was just me and a bunch of Jamaicans.
Church Hill Supermarket
1308 North 22nd St.
Despite a guy getting shot and killed by this miracle on 22nd St. a couple of weeks back, I think this is one of the greatest markets in all of Richmond. Many of you will think of this place as a dump, but it's Short Pump that is the dump. Church Hill Market is art, film, music, theater, and a symphony all rolled up into one. I feel Richmonders must respect this kind of market. CVS? Please - I'd rather dodge a drug dealer, or a guy with a story, and fondly purchase a pack of smokes from the great folks at Church Hill Market. In fact, if you want your children taught a real civics lesson, my advice is to send them here for candy. But you won’t, because you are trapped in prejudices my mind cannot comprehend. Live a little, Richmond, and go to Church Hill Market to buy a Twinkie or discount cigarettes. Oh, if you can, pick me up some beer. Or even better, some Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull. Yeah, they got that too.
Clay St. Market
501 North 30th St.
Right behind Chimborazo Elementary School, the Clay Street Market, at Clay and N. 30th, has made quite the resurgence. They have figured out what an ever-evolving Church Hill consumer wants, and they’re supplying. Clay Street Market prides itself on offering the best selection of food and snacks - including snacks for those wild Church Hill parties! - and of course, fountain drinks. Oh my stars, they have fresh bread and produce to boot. Also, for your convenience, they have a tantalizing variety of beer, malt liquor, tobacco products, and lottery tickets available. Holy shit! You can pay your bills here.
1503 North 35th St.
Fatduck’s is by far the granddaddy of them all. Numero uno, folks. I feel it's the greatest market in Richmond history. There are thousands of stories in the Oakwood neighborhood of Northeast Church Hill, and I want to hear every one of them. The core of these yarns begin right there at 1503 N. 35th St.--home of an absolute Richmond institution, Fatduck’s Grocery. You cannot consider yourself a Richmond, Virginian unless you have been to Fatduck’s. Fatduck’s reminds me of a country store one might find in Highland County, Virginia, but it’s right there in Oakwood. As you go in the store, you feel nostalgia pour all over you. Yes, the place has empty shelves, but chips and malt liquor for everybody. When inside, I asked the lady for Marlboro Lights, and she said, "No Marlboros, just menthols." It was kind of like that famous Saturday Night Live skit, where all the diner had was Cheeseburgers and Pepsi. Except, at Fatduck’s, it was Malt Liquor and Menthols. If Kools are your thing, then by all means, visit this taste of heaven. Hey, I think there was candy for the neighborhood kids, so the summer looks bright for Oakwood residents under 14. Seriously, Richmond--see this tiny market, visit this tiny market, because it is a giant among the big boxes that we as a backwards American society seem to so treasure.
Five Corners Mini Mart
2001 Venable St.
Five Corners is the newest of the Church Hill Markets. It’s at the site of the old Big John’s Grill. Man, I sure do miss their jukebox. Five Corners is an EBT Card-accepting store located in Richmond, VA., so if you are part of the food stamp program and have an EBT Card, this sounds like a good market for you. Looks like they got beer, snacks, sodas, cigarettes, etc. as well.
Mari’s Mini Mart
3400 Q St.
Mari’s is right out of central casting. Nestled on a corner at Q and N. 34th Streets, this market is the real Church Hill. Hold on to it as long as you can, Church Hill, as the real estate market booms, places like this might turn into a market one would find in the Museum District. I certainly hope this doesn’t happen, and Mari’s withstands the test of time. It’s a true treasure for Richmond, and my oh my, do they ever have discount cigarettes! There is wine and beer as well as snacks, sodas, and household wares a nearby neighbor might need. Double thumbs up for Mari’s!
Market Place #14
1235 Mosby St.
Market Place #14 might as well be number one. Centered right in the middle of Mosby Court, and nowadays limited to an act of larceny committed here and there, this store is more like a 7-11. They have everything, and I’m pretty sure they except WIC, EBT cards, and smiles. The ‘14’ of course has beer, wine, malt liquor, coffee, cigarettes, candy, bread, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, bandanas, caps, and phone cards. Yes, it’s highly doubtful any UR coeds shop here, but who cares. Also, for a store with a view of the city, the ‘14’ has an argument as having the best. The kids from Martin Luther King Middle School across the street love the ‘14’ for its impeccable service and sugary sodas. This store is always busy, and if there’s a couple of folks in a heated argument out front, don’t be surprised. Just mind your own business, walk past and find your taste pallet’s desires. Hey, this place also cashes checks, and they have an ATM. See you at the ‘14’.
Mosby Express Market & Deli
715 Mechanicsville Tnpk.
This place was a chicken shack about ten to fifteen years ago. That place closed, and the building was all boarded up, not to mention overrun by a bunch of grass and weed growth. Then a year or so ago, the new proprietors cleaned up the joint and its surroundings, and turned this beautiful oasis on the outskirts of Mosby Court into a fine, very convenient market. I think they've been robbed before, but who’s counting? Also, for you Richmond crime aficionados like me, they once found a dead newborn baby behind this building. Apparently the baby had been born on site or around the neighborhood. My guess was it was from a scared teenager. And no, the store was not operating at this site at the time. There are tobacco products and then some, along with hats, fruity energy drinks, and if you need the number of a quality windshield replacement man, here's where you should go. Although there’s a "no loitering" sign, I think you'll be okay. I won’t tell anyone. One other thing--it appears you can get the Times Dispatch here as well.
Night & Day
2829 Q St.
Night & Day Market has been around for a while, but is now reaping the rewards of the surrounding neighborhood evolving into a comfortable living space. Nestled perfectly at the Southwest corner of Q and 29th streets, Night & Day is conveniently right by a GRTC stop. Even better, the miracle that is the Robinson Theater sits ten feet away. If you haven’t been to the Robinson Theater, move to Flint, Michigan. Anyway, this store has recently been cleaned up, freshly painted, and the owner is the sweetest old man in Richmond. I’m serious. They of course have the usual - booze, chips, cigarettes, Black & Milds, and snacks, but it’s the atmosphere that keeps me loving this donnybrook of convenience. By the way, Shaka Smart might want to check out the kids playing basketball next door--some look like they can flat out play.
2438 Venable St.
Ocean Grocery is a trip to the seven seas. This market has had rough times, but as an underdog, Ocean stands tall at 25th and Venable. Get it all here and wipe away the tear. Ocean Grocery is the center of what matters in life. It doesn’t matter that I got accosted here back in ’92--I always knew Ocean would rise. And the tsunami of beer, wine, malt liquor, snacks, cakes, discount menthols, and food stamp acceptance led me towards this bevy of merchandise for years, and well beyond the time you read these words. If you don’t swim in this ocean, you better run to your nearest YMCA and learn how to. If you need a cop, never fear, RPD’s First Precinct is right across the street. But they’re probably busy busting up a harmless underground party, or harassing independent business owners, instead of really protecting and serving.
400 Mechanicsville Tnpk.
I’m not a songwriter, but if I was, my first song would be about Song’s. Song’s sits on the Northwest corner of Mosby and Redd Streets, and oh my, is it ever a sociology lesson. Song’s is in the heart of Mosby Court, yet it’s a must-visit before you end your life after the next stock market crash. I wanted to find out a little bit more about this beauty on the hill, so I called Song’s. Oh how I was pleasantly surprised; the guy was extremely polite and courteous. I pretended to be a regular guy looking for certain products. I never told him I was with onewayrichmond.com. Yes, there’s gunplay around this store--a couple of homicides within a one block radius at times--but this store is life. So if you’re thinking about visiting the Valentine Museum--why? Song’s Market is THE cultural center of Richmond. By the way, Song’s has beer, malt liquor, discount menthols, deuce-deuces, chips, napkins, and cleanser. It accepts food stamps, EBT Cards, and I think WIC. By now you think I’m crazy, and that’s okay. But, I’m going to Song’s right now, as you argue with your ex-wife in Henricofield over money while watching the news about a shooting in a suburban white neighborhood. Just another example of the way, when you really break it all down, life is the same everywhere you go.
Market at North 24th St. & Jefferson Ave.
Well, it had to happen. There was bound to be one store that I do not know the name of. In fact, there is zero signage out front of this longtime market at N. 24th and Jefferson Ave--you know, just at the outskirts of the Union Hill section of Church Hill. I admit, I could have gone in and asked the official name, but I didn't. I'm lazy. However, I like the romance of at least one market in Church Hill not having an official name. That was kind of the norm back in the day. So, let’s just call this spot the ‘no name’ grocery. Now, I’m sure somebody reading this will know the name--so put it down on the comments section, thank you. Anyway, there is the word shrimp on the side of the building. Perhaps this market has the fresh catch-of-the-day. What this market lacks outside, they roll with inside. They've got the lottery, an ATM, and nTelos phones; probably “burner phones,” if you ask me. They also have plenty of Colt 45 to quench your summer thirst, as well as chips, snacks, cakes, bread, discount cigarettes, lottery tickets, and nothing but love between you and the proprietor. There might be a deli, but I’m not sure. There are usually loiterers around this nook, so you could ask one of them. The future of this store is bright, as cute boutique restaurants, BBQ’s, and coffee shops have opened around it. Wow, Union Hill went from a war zone to a rose garden in a very short time. Here comes whitey.
Words by John Lewis Morgan, photos (unless otherwise noted) by Elizabeth Nall; originally appeared at onewayrichmond.com