Daze of My Life: I'm Back (What Choice Do I Have?)

Daze of My Life
I'm Back (What Choice Do I Have?)

And another annoying thing about supermarkets; have you noticed the seasonal displays? Do they really think I'm going to buy a room air conditioner there or some patio or lawn furniture while shopping for milk and cookies? I can understand the supermarket's urge to try and snatch the cash from a captive audience of shoppers since we're already in-store. But let's be realistic. I couldn't possibly fit any of the non-grocery stuff in my cart, and even if I could, I'd have no remaining space to hold the groceries I came to the supermarket to actually buy.
There's plenty of stuff--meat, dairy, produce, pet food, household, fish, Bakery--to buy, we just need the supermarkets to have enough available.
It's extremely frustrating, and disappointing, to arrive at the store with cash to spend and/or credit/debit card in-hand, at a time planned to accommodate all the demands of our respective lives and not be able to find the grocery object of your desire. Then to notice, adjacent to the empty shelves, an adirondack chair or a teak bench, as a few examples, for sale. The furniture they have, but not the advertised sale items; that they're out of.
Since when did the supermarket become the place for a consumer to furnish his screened-in porch or to buy dad a "Big Casino Table" for Father's Day?
They've got to be kidding. I hope stuff is being sold on consignment because rarely have I seen shoppers with any products in their carts other than food and water and so forth. Certainly I realize the supermarkets are preying on the spur-of-the-moment tendencies of us food shoppers but, beach umbrellas? BBQ grills? Lounge chairs? Please.
To think that just because there's some kind of food relationship--preparation, consumption, proximity--to these non-grocery items will be connection
enough to encourage us shoppers to buy them is misguided at best and ridiculous at worst.
To turn their marketing perspective around, consider these examples. When you go to a furniture store, would you expect to find food for sale there because once back at home, sitting on your new couch, you might be eating a sandwich?
When visiting a clothing store, would you think the clothier would be selling travel and/or vacation packages because you'll be wearing clothes when you go? And finally, would you expect your hair salon to be selling towels because eventually their coifed customers will bathe at home and need a towel to dry their hair? No. No. And no.
As such, when I go to the supermarket, I'm thinking BLTs, not BTUs. I want to buy what I want or buy what I need, not be unable to buy what I need or want because shelf space is so limited (see 6/22/05 column, "Aisle Be Back, Unfortunately") or because there's a hammock or a tent on display occupying valuable floor space that could otherwise be stacked (or stocked) with this week's specials. And guess what happens, invariably? The store runs out of sale items so I have to come back. And when I come back, you know what I see? The same darn hammock and tent.
I understand that having the customer return to the supermarket repeatedly creates multiple buying opportunities, which obviously interests the retailer. But I have to tell you, as that customer, I feel just the opposite. The more often I have to return to the supermarket to buy products that were sold out or unavailable on a previous visit, the more irritated I get. And the more irritated I get, the less time and money I'll spend when I am there, and that can't be good for business.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.