Fort IGA

18th Street IGA • 307 18th St., Fort Sanders

If you want to see the 18th Street IGA (and you do) get there fast. All across Fort Sanders, alien spawn have implanted themselves in the district’s beautiful, decaying Victorian homes. They are growing, replicating, extending their horrible exoskeletons around neighboring houses, sucking the life out of entire blocks of the district and mutating into blank, three-story, plastic-sided apartment buildings. They even mimic Victorian style—with gables and brick foundations and faux shingles on their walls—but in bland, lifeless uniformity.

Soon these monstrosities and their accompanying parking garages will devour the entire neighborhood, including the 18th Street IGA, leaving nothing of old Fort Sanders but the sidewalks and historical markers. The grocery store, housed in the ground floor of a sagging two-story brick building on 18th Street between Laurel and Highland, probably survives because it is tucked out of sight behind Fort Sanders Medical Center. Eighteenth stops at Clinch, leaving no direct access to the store from the Cumberland strip.

The store is at 307 18th Street—307½ is a stairway leading to the building’s upper story, possibly a rental. In the yard next door is a pit bull that’s the spitting image of Petey the Pup from Spanky and Our Gang. The store and surrounding buildings very well could have been lifted out of an Our Gang short; now the neighborhood is all about rentals to college students and whoever else is passing through.

In the early spring there are hand-scrawled “For Rent, Fall 2008” signs in every other yard. One slightly be-shambled house nearby proclaims itself the “Palace of UT.” Another displays a big skull-and-crossbones over the front door. “No Trespassing” signs abound, even on Fort Sanders’ incongruously named Fellowship Center (the center provides temporary shelter for out-of-town patients undergoing treatment at the hospital).

Fort Sanders may very well be as dangerous as recent press indicates. Maybe there are a lot of transients and panhandlers here; there are a lot of street people in San Francisco, too. This neighborhood is young and alive and feels that way, and the tiny 18th Street IGA caters well to it.

The antique signage and mildew-blackened awning over the front door obviously date from the days when this was a respectable middle-class neighborhood, but the ads for Neuro Fuel and SoBe on the storefront grating are aimed at today’s clientele. The store carries everything a young renter needs to survive, including beer, ale, malt liquor, beer, lager, and beer. One slick ad hanging above the aisles proclaims Yuengling Comes to Knoxville; another, professionally printed with 18th Street IGA right on the banner, sells Keystone Light.

In this store, Chef Boyardee is a vegetable. The meat department is a cooler with bologna. The IGA sells a wide variety of Hamburger Helpers, but not much hamburger.

Toilet paper and cat food are big. There’s a freezer full of Ben & Jerry’s, lots of chips and pretzels, standing coolers full of soft drinks and not-so-soft energy drinks. There are tiny collections of cereal, toothpaste, breads, detergent; maybe not all seven, but enough of the basic food groups to stay alive. The cashier sits in front of a wall of cigarettes next to a newsstand full of porno magazines, watching Arabic-language news on the TV. Yes, you can buy lottery tickets at the 18th Street IGA.

Beyond the Yuengling and Keystone Light, the store’s selection of beers is actually quite impressive. I walked out with a bottle of English Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, a Tusker Lager from Kenya (great elephant on the label), and a Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel. At the miniscule mini-deli at the front, you can get a take-out barbecue sandwich and a Coke for $3.39.

Otherwise, the prices stink ($4.39 for four rolls of Cottonelle), but they’re playing to a captive audience. The store’s patrons are on foot with not much money.

Want to know how it feels? To be on your own, with no direction home, a complete unknown? Go to the 18th Street IGA.

© 2008 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 13

schwa420 writes:

Are you kidding me with this article? Is this satire or reality? I frequent the IGA which by the way we all affectionately called "Freddy's". You see the "cashier" you refer to is Freddy, who is actually the OWNER! How long have you lived in the Fort or do you even live there? This article is an absolute travesty as I spend at least 200 dollars a month at the IGA. And not because of his prices, but because Freddy is a nice guy who always has a friendly word for his customers.

His prices are similar to that of every other convenience store in the Fort. Have you seen the prices at Sam's Party Store or 17th Street Deli, they are basically the same as Freddy' I believe this article was written by an absolutely incompetent writer.....if this passes for news and gets published in the Metro Pulse, then please hire me. Because I could do much better......not to even interview anyone at the store shows just how bogus this article is. Please don't print any more articles by this novice if you want me to keep reading.

whereismymnd (Inactive) writes:

Freddie (the owner and NOT just a mere cashier) actually cooks hotdogs and hamburgers for his patrons; he also offers some made to order spiffy jalapeno bites, but I guess that information would have ruined the joke the writer tried to make about hamburger. I can't say that I've seen the bologna myself after shopping there for five years.

Honestly, this entire article sounds like it was preplanned before actually viewing the IGA, which really is a shame. Not only can you score some fine import beer there, not only is the owner smart enough to buy limes should a customer want them for his beer, I always leave after good conversation and want to come back. Freddy has scored my customer loyalty, which is more than I can say than a lot of joints in Knoxville.

To see some respect in his establishment would have been nice. He's definitely deserving of it.

jane_Q_public writes:

Maybe it's your turn for a little gentle critiquing. Let me ask you a question, Did you ever stop for one second while observing Freddie's store to ask him his name. Seems to me if you are writing an article about someone's store you should have the respect enough to introduce yourself to the "clerk" who happens to be the owner. Maybe if you were a little more professional people might would take you seriously. Your story was flighty to put it nicely. What was your plot supposed to be? Were you just searching for a small business in our community to pick on because you have a bad attitude? His name by the way is Fareed Nasser, but around here everyone calls him Freddie.
I also think it is interesting that the wording in this online article was changed but the printed copy I picked up, from The 18th St IGA, clearly says "The cashier sits in front of a wall of cigarettes next to a newsstand full of porno magazines, watching Hindi-language videos on the TV. Where were you going with this statement? Freddie works seven days a week all day and half the night and you know what, he is still a smiling face every time you walk in the door. I think you owe this man an apology because merely editing the article isn't good enough. Oh and I enjoy seeing another news perspective, it's what being aware is all about. I also see him watching sports and CNN and FOX. He is very open minded and intelligent and I bet he could tell you more about what's going on in our country, or any other for that matter, than you know.
This by far was the most offensive article I have ever read in the Metro Pulse and I read every issue. I understand this is an opinionated paper but this article isn't publish worthy. Maybe you should have asked some of the residents of the Fort Sanders area or maybe even the doctors in the Hospital, or the young professionals like myself, because we are the ones who are familiar with this store. Thanks for continuing to serve our community everyday Freddie. We really appreciate you!

riosan writes:

This deli is a STAPLE in this neighborhood. In fact, when ever freddie closes the shop to go play on a local soccer league people line up and wait for an hour just to get a sandwich. Men and women that deliver all over Fort Sanders get their lunch at the IGA. Why would they do that, when there are so many other options on the strip and in the Fort ? Well, because it is THAT good.

You attacked the owner in a very racially insensitive way. To call him Arabic and then spout about him being just a cashier is the most egregious part of this article. Freddie is quite possibly one of the nicest people I have met in the fort, and he is certainly the nicest shop owner in Fort Sanders and I might even be inclined to say Cumberland ave as well. He always greets me with a smile, we discuss daily goings on, politics, local news stories... etc. I will have you know that Freddie is actually an asset to us students and residents because he responsibly sells alcohol and does not allow his patrons of lesser assets to drink themselves silly and parade around our neighborhood. I could not say the same for 17th street deli and Firedog deli.

I agree with the person above. Did you even ask his name ? Did you stop to talk to him if even for awhile ? Did you ask him what Arabic television show he was watching ? Did you give him any clue that when you left you would be writing a scathing report about him and his store completely neglectful of truth ?

On the quality and content of his store. That IGA is perfectly clean. I eat there all the time and the only thing I ever walked away with was a fully satisfied stomach. In fact, when I am done finishing one of his deli sandwiches I am already thinking about what I will have next time I go. His prices are comparable to everywhere else in the fort, and MUCH better than the Walgreens most students without cars frequent. Plus, its privately owned and operated. Would you prefer a Walmart to open up in the fort as long as it is in a Victorian house ? Or how about we all go on campus and pay Aramark 50 dollars for a box of cereal and some milk.

Now, on to the dog you insulted.Three dogs actually live in that home and they are all the sweetest dogs. With an aura like yours though, I wouldn't be surprised if you attracted every bark in the fort.

I moved from the other side of 17th street to this side and I couldn't have been happier. It is wonderful to have local store owners and operators who have been here for so long. It is wonderful to have a personal friendship with the person I buy my food and groceries from.

I know that was rambling. But to be perfectly honest I am so stunned that this is what you got out of IGA.

RSK writes:

Of course, rather than come clean and admit your writer was too lazy to get the man's ethnicity straight (you first claimed he was watching "Hindi-language" television), you just quietly changed the offending part of the online article. Probably a) because you thought you could just sweep it under the rug and b) because you know if he can't even get something that basic straight, the rest of the article's claims are questionable as well?

That's EXTREMELY weaselly, guys, and its definitely made more than one opinion regarding the Metro Pulse do a complete 180.

There used to be a popular racist melody at the turn of the 20th century, called "All Coons Look Alike To Me". From what I've seen in this article, it definitely applies to the Metro Pulse's mindset. Publish a full (PUBLIC) retraction and apology, and stop pussyfooting around about it.

What, you gonna ban me from your widdle website for calling a spade a spade? Sorry. If you don't like it, you should have gotten it right the first time.

cturczyn writes:

I corrected the erroneous reference to Hindi-language TV yesterday but forgot
to note it here, which I should have promptly done. We'll run a print correction
next issue.

schwa420 writes:

I appreciate the fact that Metro Pulse corrected the error, but the issues are still in print and those people that have them will see it for how it was written. I believe that Metro Pulse should do the right thing here, run another story on Freddy's, this time actually talking to Freddy and his customers so that people will understand that this store is not what Mr. Yates proclaimed but rather what it actually is. Freddy deserves that at least!

cturczyn writes:

We certainly regret the mistaken reference to Hindi, as John should have been
able to tell the difference between the two languages. But no "attack" or
criticism was intended by his noting what he thought was playing on the TV
set; he was simply describing what he saw and heard when he was at the
store. John does so with every review to convey the flavor of each place he

This was not an article; it was a review, and as such, the writer is not really
expected to interview the owner beforehand. Other than not liking the prices,
he actually came away with a rather positive take on the place: "This
neighborhood is young and alive and feels that way, and the tiny 18th Street
IGA caters well to it."

schwa420 writes:

I am quoting from the article here:

"In this store, Chef Boyardee is a vegetable. The meat department is a cooler with bologna. The IGA sells a wide variety of Hamburger Helpers, but not much hamburger."

"The cashier sits in front of a wall of cigarettes next to a newsstand full of porno magazines, watching Hindi language videos on the TV . Yes, you can buy lottery tickets at the 18th Street IGA."

That does not sound positive to me, if I were a reader that has never visited the place, I would not go, it doesn't paint a positive picture at all of Freddy's establishment, the only positive spin he attempts in the article is not even about the store itself, but the neighborhood.

williamwallace50 writes:

I understand a reviewer embellishing about the atmosphere of a location to create a mood for an article. What I don't understand is how a writer can be so lazy that: he does not bother to find out that the "clerk watching Hindi television" is actually the Arab owner of the store, that the "miniscule mini-deli" actually has an excellent selection of subs and sandwiches with the best prices in Knoxville, and that a 4-pack of Cottonelle toilet paper is only 40 cents cheaper if purchased on the internet (and that doesn't include shipping).

In addition, this article (I suppose to establish the "mood") has created the impression that the IGA is in a location surrounded by drunken undergrads and the occasional loon with a "no trespassing" sign. However, a five minute observation of IGA during lunchtime would have revealed a diverse clientele of doctors, nurses, contractors, lawyers, and graduate students such as myself.

Next time that his newspaper decides to bad-mouth the fruit of a hard-working and decent man's business, I recommend that you base it on at least a half-way decent investigation and not on ignorance and bias.

scf writes:

Why couldn't he find the hamburger? It's pretty easy to find. That's another correction that the metropulse should be printing. Fareed has hamburger meat. And hot dogs. And eggs. All reasonably priced.

The sandwiches are awesome and a great deal. Maybe he should have bought one if he was really reviewing this place. The "minuscule mini-deli" typically boasts a line full of a diverse group of people, ranging from college students to doctors.

The IGA does not "probably survive" because it's out of sight. It survives because it has loyal customers and is run by a talented and hardworking businessman.

This article is insulting and demeaning to our favorite neighborhood entrepreneur (who works an insane number of hours a week, but still always manages to be friendly to all of his patrons). Would this "reviewer" mention the television if it was playing in English? Would he mention anything about Fareed appeared Caucasian?

He has told homeless people to leave me alone. He even stocks ping pong balls, which I'm sure the kids living across Highland Ave. purchase regularly.

What other stores think to carry ping pong balls and an assortment of single dose hangover cures? Oh and kegs. You can't get those at Walgreen's.

Additionally, Fareed has sold all of his condiment cups to a party in need of jello shots, but had run out of cups. He does not even normally sell them, but just wanted to help us out. He even went in the back to find more. Then he asked us what he should charge for them.

I think this writer needs to get off of his high horse. Who does he think he is? He really comes across as a pretentious, condescending jerk. I happen to love our neighborhood and my apartment. And the IGA is my favorite part about living on 18th Street. But I guess my domestically brewed Abita Turbo Dog and Natural Light is somehow below this writer, just like my favorite store.

We will avenge Fareed and the 18th Street IGA!

scf writes:

I also see that his "review" of the Holy Land Market contains an extensive interview and background of the owner.

That store must have been more his "taste", so its contents were less important than its history.

If you read that article, how can you really think what he wrote about our dear IGA is positive?

That's a link to the article where he DOES speak to the owner. I think he actually got his nationality and accent correct, too. Bravo, John!

whereismymnd (Inactive) writes:

While I understand that it's a review and that a correction has been run, the man deserves some free advertising or something. Seriously.

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