I love to grocery shop. I while away the hours comparing prices (per UNIT price, not overall price), weighing the quality of certain brands and discovering new products with an enthusiasm that should probably not be unleashed in the company of strangers in the Super Target.
I have stores I like to shop at, stores I LOVE to shop at, some I tolerate and others I will go in only if I need two-three items and don’t want to drive the extra 2.5 miles to a more bearable environment.
For example: I like Super Target for the big trips. They have a variety of products (not everything I want) and fairly reasonable prices. They are not usually overly crowded, and customer service is plentiful and generally helpful. Plus, I can buy toddler clothes and a new shower curtain liner if I want. I have learned the Super Target layout quite well, and a two-week shopping trip can be complete in under an hour. I am willing to forgive the fact that they seem to run out of Diet Sprite (and, when I needed it, nursery water) on Saturday mornings and can’t seem to restock it until sometime mid-week. But they have a Starbucks in the store, and if I get a raspberry mocha with no whipped cream before I take on the deli line, I can almost convince myself that grocery shopping is “me” time!
On the other hand, I tolerate Wal-Mart and Meijer. This pains me to say, because I used to love Meijer with all my heart and soul, but the one near my house is painfully understaffed, disorganized and undergoes a remodel every six months or so, making it impossible to find anything.
Wal-Mart? Well, I hate Wal-Mart on general principle anyway, but any store that puts its frozen items at the front of the store, making it necessary to start shopping at the BACK of the store and work your way up is just trying to get on my bad side. Plus? The people. My GOD THE PEOPLE AT WAL-MART. Mainly the numbers of people, but sometimes the quality as well.
But the market closest to my house (less than five minutes, about 1 mile) irritates me to no end. I will say that they have remodeled their store, but it can not improve the helpfulness of staff, the fact that only one check-out lane is open at a time and all the self-service checkouts are either broken or being operated by people who have never used them before, and the prices that are really not low enough to justify the terrible customer service. I loathe this place. But it’s close.
Which brings me to the store I love. It is local to Indiana, HQed here in Indy, Marsh has stores all over the city. There are two within close proximity to my home. One is in the category below the “worst store I’ve ever shopped at” category and the other I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. But the prices are so high. I save it for special trips for special items that I know will be in stock there because they know me and what I will need better than I know myself. They have a gourmet cheese section! And a whole section dedicated to wine (with an on-staff sommelier!). They have friendly staff! And a logical set-up, organized like spokes on a wheel centered around the produce section and coffee bar. And the best thing of all? They have parking spots dedicated to expectant mothers and parents with toddlers. I adore them.
Earlier this year, the family that owned the chain sold it to a supermarket conglomerate, which started closing stores. I was so worried they would take away my beloved branch and spell doom to the Ted’s Montana Grill, Old Navy and Bed Bath and Beyond that are in the same shopping center. But so far, no harm has come to my little retail oasis. So I can continue my blissful gourmet shopping, spending an hour to choose 12 items and somehow coming home with dried lemongrass, authentic chorizo and white-truffle infused olive oil because YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU MAY NEED THEM.