One of the things I noticed early on coming to NYC from a small New England town where everyone knows each other is that the anonymity of the city allows for a lot of passive aggressive behavior. You know the drill, you're walking down the street and some decides to "tell" you as they are passing what they think of you or whatever you're doing. They don't actually stop you and bring it up. The just mumble it loud enough for you to hear it, but not so loud that it would likely inspire you to talk back to them. Thanks. Um, thanks a lot. But the other day a passive aggressive comment about food trucks got me thinking...
Here's the scene. Lawman and I were out in the Slope with Little B. I had a cake craving (when do I not have a cake craving?). We had just been to a party, but because of my tree nut allergy I couldn't enjoy the cake there. Boo. Lawman promised me some cake. We happened to be outside of Barnes & Noble and the Cupcake Stop Truck happened to be there.
Seizing the moment (carpe cake-um!) I decided to get a Fluffernutter cupcake $3. I'll be honest and say that I haven't had a Cupcakestop cupcake--save a free one they were giving out for some Dress Barn promo--since they opened because their cupcakes frankly didn't impress me. But they were there and I was there, so I bought one. Just as I was about to sink my teeth into it, Passive Aggressive Dude breezes by saying something to the effect of "stealing from the stores that have to pay the rent." I assume he was referring to my buying from a mobile vendor versus say one of the other bakeries down the strip.
While I can't think there are any bakeries in the immediate vicinity, CupcakeStop happened to be parked out in front of B&N, so I suppose I could have patronized them inside. But unlike most passive aggressive comments, this one actually got to me. Readers know that I love food carts and trucks and am a big supporter of the mobile vending community. Nine times out of ten when I go to a cart or truck to eat, it's because I've sought them out specifically (twitter stalking, anyone?), so no surrounding business is actually losing my money, because I wasn't a likely customer for them to begin with. In this case, however, the comment hit home because I'm not that big a fan of CupcakeStop's product and I bought it anyway.
If I had thought about it and not been swayed by convenience, I would have gone the 10 or so blocks down the road to buy a Robicelli's cupcake from Blue Apron--a product I love from a bricks and mortar store I love, thereby showing my support for two vendors I very much enjoy. And a Robicelli's cupcake is cheaper (at $2.50 each) and much tastier, at least in my book.
One of my favorite things about food is the community of people who make, sell, eat, and write about it. For me knowing the stories behind my food makes it taste that much better. I don't have to tell you that it's a tough economy, but as we head into the end of the year, remember to support the small businesses you really love, be they trucks, carts, or bricks and mortar stores to ensure that they stay in business for a good long time.
Speaking of Robicelli's...they are taking pre-orders for Thanksgiving. Check out all the details here.