by Brandon James Anderson
When you think about it, my name is pretty bland. My first name – while not as historically popular as John, Michael, or Steve – is far from uncommon.
In fact, Brandon was in the top 20 for male baby names throughout the 1980’s. I grew up with several Brandons and even had two different guys named Brandon as a close friend during high school and college.
And, of course, my surname is even less unique. According to Census date, Anderson is the 12th most common name in the United States.
When I went to graduate school I began using my full name for my writing. “Brandon Anderson” just seemed too generic. “Brandon James Anderson” seemed more distinct, even if going by my full name made me seem a bit pompous (à la Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Or made me sound like a tool (à la Sean William Scott). Or like a murder (à la Lee Harvey Oswald, et al.).
In spite of, or perhaps because of, the commonality of my name, I’ve noticed that people actually like my name. Many times I’ve encountered people repeating my full name when I give it to them. “Brandon Anderson… nice.”
At a Best Buy store recently, I had to give the cashier my phone number to look up my Rewards Zone membership information. The cashier starred at the screen for several seconds before informing me that his friend has the same name. I’ve had this, too, happen before and usually I just say “Cool!” without taking the discussion any further. This time, however, I spent a few minutes conversing with the cashier on my name which lead to a discussion of a company that’s synonymous with Northwest Ohio, The Andersons.
The Andersons is an agriculture conglomerate comprising of six business entities headquartered in Maumee, Ohio. Anyone who has ever taken M-52 to reach Interstate 96 has probably noticed the company’s grain operation in Webberville, Michigan. As the Best Buy employee explained to me, they’re more than just farming as the company is also involved in ethanol and steel fabrication.
More important than any of that are The Andersons stores, most of which reside in the Toledo area. It was only this month that my girlfriend, Alli, and I realized these stores existed. And, upon the suggestion of several Ohio natives, including the dude from Best Buy, we decided to check out The Andersons Market, the company’s flagship store.
The Andersons stores themselves are overwhelming. Yet, the Market in Sylvania takes it to a whole other level. To paraphrase one of the best SNL Weekend Update characters of all time, this place has everything: Organic flax seed, fresh Korean egg bread, University of Michigan sweatpants, Pittsburgh Steelers Tervis Tumblers, Sriracha popcorn, Tempurpedic mattresses, in house hand-smashed guacamole… It’s as if Menards and Whole Foods had a baby – and then that baby grew up, fell in love with the lovechild of Meijer and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and made another baby.
With so much stuff inside one massive location, it’s easy to end up spending hours shopping without even getting to all areas of the store. Though we went with little more than produce on our shopping list, we spent a good chunk of time perusing the store’s massive wine selection which puts both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to shame.
Speaking of wine, all of the Toledo area stores offer wine tastings throughout the week. And the Market offers several cooking classes every month and even hosts events such as healthy eating seminars and triathlon training classes.
I could go on and on about the plethora of products and activities one finds at The Andersons Market, but it’s something that should be taken in personally.
And while my 12th most common surname of Scottish origin may sometimes feel generic, it’s nice to discover places south of the Michigan border that are far from ordinary.