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My Grocery Store Top Ten

October 8th, 2003 · 1 Comment

Here’s the top ten things I look for in a grocery store….

1. A parking lot with spaces that are easy and accessible.
One store on the island has a parking lot that is a nightmare to negotiate. It’s such a small space, the lots packed tight, and it was probably planned back in the 50s when the island was mostly summer homes. But still, the lot is a disincentive. I would rather go to the store with the larger lot.

2. A parking lot with good access to carts: close places to park and retrieve them.
As a mom with three little kids, it’s important to me that I can find a cart quickly but especially, when I am done shopping, that I can return the cart, without having to leave my children. I never used to leave carts out in the lot, but at certain times and places, I’ve decided that it is more important to stay near my kids than to leave them alone in the car while I escort the cart back home across the asphalt.

3. Grocery carts that can carry 3 children: my kids like these more than I do.
I try to avoid taking out these big boats, but my daughters beg me to take one. The kind with two seats attached in front of the cart. Again, I am not that crazy about them, but on days when the kids are tired, its great for them to be able to ride. And, sometimes too, it’s good to be able to buckle each child and know where she is.

4. Aisles that easily accommodate two way traffic.
One store on the island here – the same one that has the nightmare parking lot, has aisles so small I feel claustrophobic, and also I feel that I am being rude and obstructive, when others have a hard time getting past me (yes, especially if I’m using the big 3-kid cart!).

5. Produce that is ripe and ready to be eaten.
The reason I am willing to fight through the crowded parking lot and the teeny weeny aisles at this one store is the produce department. I am thrilled to buy fruit that we can eat right away, like peaches that are soft and juicy, perfect. I don’t want to remember how many times in the past I’ve bought hard or green fruit, placed it in paper bags on my counter to ripen, and it rotted instead….
“Produce Picked at its Peak” is the slogan of one store, yet most of their fruit seems to be the color green….

6. Items on sale at good prices and in good condition.
I like a good deal – who doesn’t? And I feel that I’ve been deceived when I buy something on sale, only to bring it home and discover that it is about to rot or get moldy on me. That’s happened to me in the past. In fact, I’ve gotten suspicious at one store when organic produce is on sale: that usually means it is about to go bad. But at this same store I’ve been happy to find one of my favorite fruits, pluots, at a great price, less than $1 a pound, and they were, for the most part, in great condition.

7. Getting sale prices without giving away all my personal information.
I like my privacy or I at least try to keep some of it. I didn’t like filling out a sheet of information in order to get my Safeway Club Card. And I’ve heard all kinds of tracking can be done through my card, to watch my purchase choices etc. I decided to not give them my phone number: the disadvantage is now that if I forget my card, I can’t use the handy phone number retrieval to get my savings. Once, at another grocery store that I visited rarely, when I was asked at the check-out if I wanted a club card, I refused, saying I didn’t want to give out my information. The checker, right then and there, handed me the card. I appreciated how he respected me and wanted me, the customer, above my information.

8. A variety of products available, including generic, organic and nitrate-free meats.
I like to be able to buy generic tomato sauce or beans. But I also want to be able to choose organic produce, if possible. I especially try to buy organic apples since we eat those every day. I try to only use hot dogs or bacon that don’t have nitrates in them. And, if I can, I like to buy antibiotic-free meat, free-range chickens, wild salmon. I like bulk foods, just looking at all the bins of yummy pasta, fruit, treats – although it’s not super-sanitary (a friend once got food poisoning from an oatmeal bin?), I like the feeling little indulgences like dried mangoes or organic dark chocolate chips or almond granola. And now I even try to buy cards at the grocery store, instead of making one more trip and going to Hallmark. The more choices I have, the happier I am.

9. Treats for the children.
Cookies in the bakery or stickers at the check-out. Even little samples in the store. Doesn’t matter too much to me exactly what it is – cookies are sugary but help keep tummies content while stickers are fun but not filling. What the treats say to me is that my children are important to the store. And I appreciate their thoughtfulness.

10. Speedy and thoughtful checkout service!
One store where I shop always has short lines – of course, it also has higher prices, to pay for the staff. But by the time I make it to the checkout, some days all we want to do is get out the door! Today I really appreciated that the checker let me go back and grab a couple cans of tomato sauce I had forgotten. And what I really used to like about Safeway was that they had covered up the tabloids, so that they were hidden behind big opaque sheets of plastic. Now however the covers are visible again. I prefer stores that have fewer magazines or candies, and of course, shorter lines.

One last extra one…..
11. Little indulgences for Mommy are nice too.
I like to shop where I can smell fresh flowers, spicy candles, fruity soaps, all types of teas…and, once in a while, buy a little something for myself 🙂
And I’m beginning to appreciate wine selection a little more too.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Oct 22, 2003 at 5:14 pm

    Cool list. I think a lot about which store to go to when I have my kids with me, as far as how distasteful the magazines are. Why do they have to post such discouraging stuff all around us while we check out? I’d much rather have my kids stare at candy and have to say no, than have them reading the foul headlines that often appear. Slander, “adult” (ha) content, focus on only the outside of a person being important and needing to be perfect, etc.

    Just yesterday I shopped in a store I hardly ever go to, and didn’t have the current type of member card for. The cashier was super thoughtful, telling me I didn’t have to give any information if I didn’t want to, and my card would still be active right away. So I only put down my phone number, not even my name, just so I can use that instead of bringing the card with me in the future. In another chain where I shop very frequently due to its proximity, I have given lots of information because I get miles on my purchases with our preferred airline, and also because we used to get percentages for our school (before we started homeschooling), though escrip.

    Now I use http://www.planetorganics.com for biweekly deliveries of organic produce & meat and dairy and even some other groceries. Really helpful.

    I used to use Safeway.com sometimes but the ice cream was always melted and one time they even delivered fish that was past its prime…ugh! So they are off my favored list of ways to shop. I loved webvan.com and was sad when they went out of business. Planetorganics is expanding their offerings so I’m pretty happy about that and thinking of making it weekly.