Get it all: The world comes to town

I brought the world home in a brown paper bag today. A bottle of San Pellegrino water (Italy) clinked against a bottle of Lorina sparkling lemonade (France). A sack of tart cherry scone mix (Spokane, WA) and a jar of double Devon cream (England) bonded with a jar of mango chutney (India) and a tub of fortune cookies (China). Chocolates from Switzerland and France compared notes with a can of Illy espresso (Italy), a bag of tortilla chips (Mexico), and another of wasabi peas (Japan).

Topping off this global cornucopia was an Italian-designed Casabella micro-fiber screen cleaner (made in Korea) and a basket from Bali.

 Stuff from all over the globe is for sale at the World Market, a national retailer that opened its first Charlottesville store three months ago on Route 29 adjacent to Best Buy. The flagship shop of this mondo merchant debuted in 1958 on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf and now operates 256 stores in 31 states.

In a sort of Pier One meets Foods of All Nations, the market stocks everything from farm tables, paper lanterns, linens, and wooden screens to spice jars, spatulas, and classic rubber "duckies." Head to the back of the store for the international packaged foods section. Here you'll find shelf after shelf of candy, curries, jams, oils and more. Some sections are "ethno-specific," while others present a panorama of different takes on a single food or drink (i.e. chocolate, cookies, tea).

There's also a whole world of wine and beer, which, like the rest of the store, is "self-serve." Prices, when you can find them, suggest that there's a benefit to buying­ and selling– in bulk.

In stark contrast to World Market is the new, family-owned and operated Grand Market International Foods which opened its doors last week in the blue-tiled building on West Main Street across from the Greyhound Station. Whereas the Main Street Market a block away caters to more European tastes, this market and convenience store fits a variety of Middle-Eastern and Asian ingredients onto its shelves and into its coolers.

Owner Abdul Rahim, a native of Afghanistan, recently moved to Charlottesville from Northern Virginia. His market may seem small (especially after a visit to World Market's warehouse), but a perusal of the inventory enlarges the confines. Basmati rice, durum atta flour, kabob seasonings, pita bread, halva, olive oil, Moroccan sardines, and a bag of red dal lentils for $4.19 are just a few of the offerings. There are also bulk bins (chickpeas, nuts, figs, couscous) and a fresh produce section (baby eggplants, okra, potatoes).

Grand Market also fills a gap in this neighborhood with "convenience" items like milk, eggs, chewing gum, and­ of course– toilet paper. Halal meats­ aka goats, chicken and lambs slaughtered in accordance with Muslim dietary laws­ are available fresh at Grand Market. Such specific cultural nuances are something that all-encompassing retailers like World Market could never fully appreciate.

Corner Update

Dish made her rounds of The Corner district this week, and here's what's happening. Construction is finally under way on the ground floor of the Red Roof Inn, where windows are now papered with logos announcing the new occupant: Jimmy John's Gourmet Subs. The old Chesapeake Bagel Bakery space inside has been entirely gutted, and rebuilding should begin any day now.

My next stop was the White Spot where owner Dmitris Tavampis let me inside the space next door (formerly Coyote). Demolition is just about done, but the secretive Tavampis still wouldn't tell me what this new spot will be­ store, café, both? I took offense until I talked to Tavampis's son, who was also completely in the dark. I'll make another attempt to charm in a few weeks.

As for new eats on Elliewood, I'll bring you that story next week.

Source for your next bazaar party?