I learned of the grand opening of a new OmegaMart branch store in Santa Fe on the company website. Splashy ads in primary colors flashily heralded its arrival. I found the market occupying a corner in a half-deserted strip mall in South Santa Fe. From the street it looks unassuming, like the last store standing in a tumbleweed strewn ghost town. A young woman greeted me as I walked in the door with frosty robotic enthusiasm. Japanese pop plays soothingly on the loud speakers. In the back of the one-room market, OmegaMart commercials run on repeat on a small boxy television set.
In the produce section, the fruits and vegetables have the bright radioactive glow of genetic engineering. The meat section is a symphony in neutrals, the fleshy items arranged festively in plastic wrapping. A row of liter-sized sodas in soft baby pink, blue, and yellow line the shelves brightly in the middle of the store. A bargain bin collection of off-brand pharmaceuticals in the back promise solace from an impressively wide variety of maladies.
An aging hippie with long gray hair and a spacey stoner in his thirties peruse the store. The hippie keeps pausing at junctures to ask aloud to no one in particular, “Hey, What’s going on here? Is this some kind of art installation?” His eyes narrow at first with suspicion and then with conspiratorial amusement. The younger man looks up from the shelf, with earnest confusion. Unfazed, the woman at the checkout, reminds us that OmegaMart is a grocery store. Relieved, we all return to our shopping.
This is a fun place to browse whether you are looking for something specific or nothing at all. Many of the products had an undeniably toxic odor, but at these prices, who can complain?
OmegaMart by Meow Wolf is open through end of September. Friday, Saturday, Sunday noon-6pm. 1636 St. Michaels Drive.
(All images: OmegaMart by Meow Wolf.)