1. Kiva Grocery Store 125 W. 11th Ave. 541-342-8666. KivaGrocery.com.

2. Capella Market 2489 Willamette. 541-345-1014. CapellaMarket.com.

3. Market of Choice MarketofChoice.com.

Everybody had their pandemic comfort during the height of COVID-19. Mine was The Kiva Grocery. Not only did it feel safe to shop there, thanks to Kiva’s careful protocols, but the little grocery at the corner of 11th and Olive has that little bit of everything that makes it feel bigger than it is. German gummy candies? Check. Cheap wine (and nice wine, but let’s face it, I’m a $7.99 wine kinda journalist)? Check. A deli that delights meatatarians and vegetarians alike? Check. My only complaint is that the kimchi tacos don’t happen often enough. But that’s OK because the pimento cheese sandwich makes up for it.

The folks that work there are helpful and totally themselves — there’s no corporate uniform, just their own unique styles. And that little bit of everything includes an array of excellent books, awesome cards and fascinating doodads. I can combine my grocery trip with my gift shopping and feel good about it knowing that it’s a healthy place for folks to spend their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) money and also participate in Double Up Food Bucks, the nutrition incentive program that doubles the value of SNAP benefits when people buy fruits and vegetables.

Kiva’s been doing its market thing for 50 years now, so if you see its proprietors — Melissa Brown is usually spotted in the store’s aisleways, and George Brown is often out sweeping the sidewalk — tell them congrats on a half century of being amazing. Melissa Brown tells us, “It’s always an amazing honor when we place and super fun when we win.” 

She adds, “Honestly, it’s been a really hard couple of years for everyone and the community’s support for the little stores and markets is incredibly special.”