Pick any neighborhood, any block—chances are your corner store features Steel Reserve 211 kept cold, cigs for cheaper than $5 per pack, overpriced boxes of Corn Flakes, and transactions made through bulletproof glass. It’s a depressing yet inevitable civic transaction repeated hundreds of times each day. Not many single-can slingers dream beyond that. And we’ve grown accustomed to the ritual anyway. We’ve become adept—or downright skillful—at blocking out the cold dusty floors, the odd spice smells, the incredible variety of incense offering a rainbow of hippie flavors, and the sweaty drunk dudes wilting by the counter. But the Freedom Market is a different experience. It’s a place you actually want to explore. The place has ambitions, and it shows. It excels at the beer-wine-Combos combos. But it also imports real goodies—little gems you may think about buying when sober. You may come for the pack of smokes but soon find yourself squinting at the shiny curiosities crammed into tiny spaces and overstuffed shelves: the melon-flavored carbonated water from Japan located atop the cooler of mozz balls, the barbecue chips from Hong Kong dangling from one aisle like Christmas ornaments, the fresh pumpkin seeds in plastic containers fronting one shelf, and the rows of fancy chocolate bars and whole-grain cookies smack in front of the bulletproof glass counter. It’s even got multiple varieties of Pocky alongside the standard chocolate bars.