It all came to a head when I went to my local grocery store to get some basic items. This store is a part of a large chain and is located a few minutes walk from my home, in a largely suburban neighbourhood on one side of it, and a number of low-rise apartments on the other. The next nearest grocery stores are about 15 minutes away by car from my place.
I went into the store and went about finding the items on my list. I went to the bread aisle and at first noticed that all of the sliced loaves were on sale. Then I noticed that these loaves were all the same brand, but even better, they were only two days from their best-buy date. Two aisles of almost stale bread – what an awesome choice!
And here is when I had a moment of complete clarity – I realised that I would never be well-served by this store.
There were signs before, of course. Since the store came under new management (new owner of this location) about two years ago there have been some changes. The only positive one was that the store was a lot cleaner.
The first thing I noticed was the change in the salad dressings. The area turned into an altar to all things Kraft and no name. My favourite dressing disappeared (ironically since at this moment its manufacturer was bought out by Kraft). Larger flavour choice but smaller variety of brands. I actually emailed the store using the portal on their website about the loss of this product, but received no reply. A lovely little F-U to a regular customer. Still I shopped here.
Then my garbage bags disappeared. I regularly bought a Canadian made biodegradable garbage bag. Gone, and in its place another altar, this time to Glad and no name, and no biodegradable alternative. I started buying them elsewhere, just as I was now doing for my salad dressing. But still I shopped here for the rest of my needs.
I have also noticed over these few years that the fruit and vegetable choices have slimmed. Granted this store was never particularly good at stocking this, but now….. Want shallots, any kind of lettuce besides head, kale, and cauliflower? Yeah, not possible here. And what is even more striking is that even when produce is in season locally, most of the selection still comes from far away. Take apples for example. Ontario and Quebec have wonderful apples, but the stock comes from New Zealand, the US, Chile, and other exotic type places. Local – rare, Canadian – almost as rare.
So on this last day of shopping at my local grocery store these faults were amplified. First the bread – really? Then I noticed stale English muffins with rather fantastical best before stickers; the slim pickings in the vegetable aisle; the surprisingly empty shelves in the soup section and the difficulty in finding cream of chicken soup; still no red rose tea – just a lovely gap on the shelves; no 1% milk and a clerk stocking the shelves after placing milk that expired three days ago to the front; no name ramen noodles for 59c each – 10c more expensive than the brand name; and lastly, there was no Coke a Cola at all – for the second week in a row, just more empty shelves.
Why do I shop here? The convenience? If I have to already go to other stores to buy garbage bags, salad dressing and vegetables it seems that convenience is not really provided. Price – not so sure about that either. Selection? Not really there either. So at the end of that trip I just stopped. That was it. No more.
So now I take a bus to one of the two stores further down the road. One of them, although with a different name is part of the same chain. I must say that notwithstanding the fact that I have to schlep a lot of bags on the bus, the process is easier. I don’t have to go to more than one store for my basic grocery needs. They both have tea, coke, and my salad dressing!
I do wonder at why the store has undergone such a change in ideology. Any ideas of serving the needs of the local area are clearly out the window. It is as if the manager has decided that profits must be maximized at the cost of selection and quality. The customers are merely a means to an end. There is no pride of work, no respect for customers, and no long term ambitions. They cannot count on customers coming back if they are given poor selection, poor quality, and indifferent customer service. I moved to a new store, and I cannot be the only one.