Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Superstore is not the devil

Yesterday, against better judgement, I decided to try shopping at Superstore for my groceries, and it did not completely suck. I've always hated Superstore. I've been in there a few times for food and in that small amount of time spent, I would increasingly get more and more incredibly annoyed, angry, frustrated, and fed up. Previous thoughts included: Superstore is not user friendly. Superstore does not have deals. Superstore is way too busy -- I mean, packed like sardines, waiting in line to push your cart 3 inches forward busy. Superstore is hard to get around in. Superstore's carts are a dollar, I never have a loonie and they're kept outside and when it's -50 I don't want to push my own frozen cart, through the snow and ice, inside. Superstore is filled with annoying shoppers who take forever to pick out a vegetable, and I don't want to stand idly behind them while they do it. Anyway, mom recently became a fan and she's been going on and on about the savings and the prices and how she doesn't get bombarded with 30 plastic bags each trip. T is also a big fan and if anyone knows how to save it's her (I thought I was thrifty, but she's Queen). So what I'm saying is that I've been hearing the Superstore-love from all sides. I finally decided to give it an unbiased try just because of the plastic bag situation. If I'm shopping with Idle Husband, I can easily use my reusable bags at Safeway cuz I can leave him to unpack the cart while I explain that I don't need bags and I'll do the packing myself. When I'm alone it's incredibly hard. They either start packing stuff into bags before I can tell them or I tell them and for whatever reason they don't hear or it doesn't register and they pack bags anyway or (even worse) they insist on packing the bags for me and they don't do it properly (having gotten way too used to putting one or two items in a bag and calling it quits). So I've just been letting them do their thing and about once a month, I take all my extra bags to the bag recycling bins they've got at stores now. It's been irritating me lately, because I have some really cute bags T and I sewed together that are just sitting around getting no use at all, and I like doing my part to reduce plastic bag usage. Plus if I use my own bags, I only have to carry 3 bags into the house as opposed to 10. So here's what I discovered.
  1. Going between 8 and 9 in the morning seems to be a good hour for Superstore shopping. I'm already a big fan of getting to stores early before the rest of the city wakes up, and I tested this timing out on a holiday so this rule should stand up even better on a normal working Monday.
  2. It's incredibly hard to read the signs for what's in each aisle. If they could just put one them off centre it would be so much better. If you're not in the middle aisle where you can easily see both signs on either side of you, you're pretty much screwed for knowing what's down the further aisle. I found myself squatting down trying to see under the sign in front so I could see what was in the back aisle. This must be one of those grocery store ploys to force you to go down every aisle increasing your chance for impulse purchases. Tsk tsk, for shame.
  3. Finding obscure items (which, for me, turned out to be freezer bags) can turn into an epic, back-and-forth quest (one that I gave up on pretty quickly).
  4. It's still populated by the weirdly attentive produce shoppers. Even at 8:30 in the morning, these people are there (luckily not as many of them at once), dedicated to finding the perfect piece of produce. There was one woman at the cheap leaf lettuce who insisted on touching every single bunch. Honestly, they all looked the same to me. Same size, same quality. Same same same. Like, pick one and move on already. There was another woman at the bananas. Picking each bunch up and turning it over only to put it back again. Ok here's my thing with bananas. I don't like them ripe, I like them a little green. The greener the better (if anything they'll ripen in the bowl at home). So here they had a selection of green, green/yellow, and more-yellow bananas. Pick what colour you want, pick the number you want and move on. I don't understand this touching every single one business. I don't think I've ever picked a rotten banana or one that was bruised beyond repair. This sort of thing really irritates me for some reason. They're produce snobs.
    Oh, this banana bunch has one banana with a slight brown spot! I narrowly avoided disaster! Better put it back. Oh, this lettuce has one leaf that's slightly crumpled, I need to look further into the pile! My quest isn't over!
    Sigh. I can understand doing this with melons or oranges, but bananas and lettuce kinda leaves me going, like, stop being so damn full of yourself, fruit snob. You're not going to pick a better one than everyone else. I guarantee it. Your lettuce isn't going to taste more lettucy because you spent that extra 5 minutes searching the perfect one out.
  5. I really enjoyed being able to say no to bags and pack my own. Really enjoyed it. I ended up having 2 bags. TWO!
  6. The prices were marginally cheaper. From what I could remember of prices from Safeway and Walmart (my usuals), they might have been equal or 3-4 cents cheaper. Whoop-dee-doo. Mom insists that it's because most things you have to buy in multiple for it to be cheaper and that I didn't see this information on the tags. Well, ok then. Fair enough. I'll look harder next time (though, you'd think they'd advertise their lower prices a little better since that's, like, a major selling point)

I'm going to continue my experiment next week and spend a little more time looking for where things are and getting used to the layout. I think I was so overwhelmed with finding what was on my list, I forgot the normal weekly things I don't put on my list because they're routine items. So I've found myself with a list started for next week and it's only been a day since I went. *rolling eyes* Wish me luck on round two.

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