The long-anticipated Anabel’s Grocery made a brief appearance last week with a soft-opening pop-up shop in Willard Straight Hall. The store was able to show off products, as well as test out its equipment and check-out process.
Most notably, the group did an awesome job of creating Anabel’s earthy, sustainable, small-producer vibe within the inevitably busy Willard Straight Hall. The Pop-Up was also able to generate excitement about the store and give people a solid experience after Anabel’s long planning period (students first got working on the idea two and a half years ago and will be opening a permanent store this year in Anabel Taylor Hall).
I found the Pop-Up to have a great atmosphere with cheap, well-selected items. They had both dry pantry goods, such as Annie’s macaroni and cheese and canned tuna, as well as fresh produce, some from the student-run Dilmun Hill Farm. I also found their prices particularly reasonable, owing, no doubt, to Anabel’s lack of overhead cost.
Guests of the Pop-Up were welcomed with samples: warm lentil soup, when I went. Anabel’s highlights ingredients sold in the store posting take-home recipes throughout the Pop-Up. Nearly all of the ingredients in the recipes can be purchased in the store (a nice perk).
I also spoke to the director of the store, Adam Shelepak ’17. He reiterated the purpose of opening a Pop-Up (familiarize people with the product, generate excitement) but also shared some insight on what’s popular. According to Shelepak, Anabel’s currently has approximately 35 products, but would like to have 50 to 60 seasonally rotated goods. He said that grapes sold out very fast, but his personal favorite item was the peanut butter (I was eyeing their giant jar myself).
Overall, I was delighted with the store, its variety and its freshness, although I think it caters best to students living off campus. First, despite their competitively low prices, Anabel’s does not accept Big Red Bucks, and does not plan to associate with Cornell Dining, which makes buying food there difficult to justify for students on a meal plan. Also, Anabel’s is not so much a “grab and go”, prepared food-style joint, but rather a grocery store with staple items. This means that if you’re going to Anabel’s, you can plan on cooking. This is another tough sell for students living in dorms.
That being said, if you are not like me and are, in fact, cooking for yourself and looking for great products for cheap prices, look no further than Anabel’s. For the first time ever, food is finally cheaper on campus than off.
I encourage everyone to visit Anabel’s when it opens. The store has a variety of products with unbeatable prices, as well as an inspiring mission (that no student should go hungry). Perhaps you’ll be inspired to take on some recipes and get cooking!