How are the schools? Will my children finish each day happy, confident and learned, or is there a high probability that they’ll be knifed at the water fountain?
How are the neighborhoods? Will there be safe, family-friendly block parties where we get together, cook out and talk about community improvement matters, or will I end up waking up at 3am because my methed-out neighbor Tim just busted my car window in an attempt to steal my stereo? (It’s a factory stereo, Tim. Don’t be a dipshit.)
High on the list of considerations are the amenities. Is there a reasonably close market stocked with fresh produce, helpful employees and clean, easily navigated aisles? Are there decent restaurants, bars and movie theaters? If my dog eats poisoned ground beef late at night (goddamn you, Tim, I know it was you), is there a competent emergency pet-care facility nearby?
When you move to Kansas—as I found myself doing some five months ago, now—another very important subject is liquor.
See, prior to moving to Johnson County early last Fall, I’d never really been to Kansas. Oh, sure, I’d been to see concerts at Memorial Hall as a teen, and I’d accidentally dipped across State Line on very peculiar occasions, but I’d be willing to wager I could count on my fingers the number of times I’d been “over there.” Seriously. I grew up North of the River and, after some time in Chicago, moved back and lived for a few years in downtown KC.
I didn’t need Kansas, and it didn’t need me.
But one day you wake up and you’re over 30 and your wife’s biological clock is ticking so loud that it’s actually audible. Sure, your loft in the Crossroads is pretty fucking cool, but the building itself is teeming with douche-bag Jersey Shore wannabes who stumble through the halls after Power and Light closes, singing “Red Solo Cup” at the top of their lungs before pausing to vomit near the elevator and then fistfight one another over some perceived slight (often the affections of a comely lass, sometimes a discrepancy with who-paid-what at Town Topic). This is hardly any place to raise a family.
So you move to the “cool” part of Johnson County where there are enough people in your same situation to make it palatable. You buy a house. You start working on that kid.
As a Missouri-boy, however, you’ve got some adjustments to make. There’s KU shit EVERYWHERE. There are far fewer minorities. (They’ve been replaced, you find, with A) hick-kids in unnecessarily large pickup trucks and B) thugged out white kids in souped-up Acuras, replete with giant spoilers, giant speakers and NEON FUCKING LIGHTS underneath.)
Perhaps the biggest adjustment is the booze situation. See, you probably know that in Kansas, liquor can’t be sold at grocery stores or gas stations, and the beer they sell at those places isn’t really beer at all. In order to get REAL alcohol, one must visit an actual, standalone liquor store. I knew it too, but the reality didn’t set-in until we moved here. See, in my past life, I’d often just buy my beer at a grocery store while doing the rest of my grocery shopping. You know, like a normal human being. Sometimes, I’d swing by QuikTrip and get a fistful of taquitos and a six pack of 80 Acre Wheat. Life was simple.
Now, however, my world has changed. Gone are the days of convenience and “one-stop-shopping.” Now I’ve gotta get my taquitos and THEN swing by a liquor store to get plain old, regular-ass beer.
It’s archaic, but I made this bed.
So I’ve been trying out different liquor stores to see which one fits the best. Here’s what I’ve found.
Easily the best, and by a good bit. It’s big, it’s stocked to the gills and it gives you a “Build-a-6-pack” option that every other liquor store should adopt. Though it seems to be a bit on the pricy side for most boring, big name domestics, it’s really not too out of line with any of the other places I’ve been. The parking kind of sucks, though, given that it’s in a busy shopping center.
2) Metcalf Liquor (7531 Metcalf Ave)
Not to be confused with Metcalf DISCOUNT Liquor, of which there are a million dotting the landscape. I just discovered this place the other day, while trying to avoid Metcalf like the plague. I popped in and found a helpful woman and a pretty, younger looking woman (maybe her daughter?) who was sitting there leafing through a magazine. It’s a very laid-back place where people read magazines, is what I guess I’m getting at. Anyway, the place looks a little worn, and it too is in a strip-mall (to be fair, I don’t know that I’ve yet been ANYWHERE in Kansas that isn’t technically in a shopping center or strip mall), but the selection is impressive. I’m hardly a beer snob, but sometimes I like a weird IPA that’s maybe a little off the radar; Metcalf Liquor has quite a few of those interesting options, which is great. Plus, pretty girls reading magazines. Hard to beat.
3) A and H Liquor (6901 W 75th St)
This place is a little hard to miss. Tucked secretly in a sad shopping center featuring a payday loan emporium, a dollar store and a dying Subway, A and H is no frills. VERY no frills, actually. It’s small, and smells strongly of the incense that the (Indian?) proprietors like to burn, but the workers are friendly, it’s never crowded and there’s just enough of a selection that you could stop in with a Moderate-Level Beer Snob friend, and they’d be able to find SOMETHING to drink. I’ve never regretted coming here, mostly because it’s so damn close to my house.
Much ritzier location than any of the other places I’ve mentioned, but beauty is only skin deep. It’s not bad here, by any means, but it’s my least favorite on the list. The selection is good—better than that of A and H, for sure—but something about it rubs me the wrong way. I went in here once to get some beer and get right out, but I kinda felt like I was being watched… like I was a black dude and cashier was a Korean man, and this was Los Angeles in 1993. (None of which happened to be the case, believe it or not.) I wasn’t emotionally crippled by his hawkish nature, exactly, but I didn’t really feel welcome, either. (It’s odd, because I REALLY don’t stand out much. I’m very non-descript, and I didn’t have my penis out or anything. I’m pretty sure I was wearing a North Face jacket like every other jerk in Prairie Village.) Other than that, it’s an okay place. Just don’t go here if you’re black, because then all bets are off. I’m kidding. (Probably.)
Well, those are the four liquor stores I’ve been to in five months.
Are there any I’m an absolute idiot for missing out on?
Any places I should resolutely stay the hell away from? (To be honest, those are kind of my favorites.)
Have any of you been profiled due to appearance at Rimann Liquors and are you interested in joining my class action lawsuit?
Let’s here about it in the comments.