This past weekend I suggested we do our grocery shopping at Price Rite on Elmwood Avenue instead of going to Tops or Wegmans like we usually do. I was given the suggestion from a commenter on a blog I posted a week or two ago. Money has been tight for us for a while and we've been trying to figure out ways to cut back on the amount we spend.
We should have turned around as soon as we made a couple passes around the parking lot. It was hard to see exactly where the parking spots were, since the lot was still covered in snow and slush from two days earlier. The cars were parked haphazardly and the shopping carts were strewn all over the place. This was a bad sign, in retrospect. If the management/owners don't care enough about their store to clean up the outside, what was the inside going to look like? The outside is the first impression you make to potential customers. Maybe the management doesn't care about first impressions. Maybe they don't care if a customer slips and falls in front of their store. Maybe they just assume people are going to shop there no matter what. Maybe they know that since their store is in a low economic neighborhood, they don't need to worry about what the store looks like from the outside.
Since the snow and slush was not cleaned up outside, everyone is forced to track it into the store. There was an area of about ten feet or so just inside the door that was a dirty, messy puddle of gross melted snow. I had to track slushy snow into the store twice since I had to go back outside to find a shopping cart. There were three or four near the entrance outside, all of them filled with trash and empty food containers. I emptied the cart that was leaning against the overflowing garbage can and attempted to start my shopping.
We evidently picked the wrong day to shop because the produce section was clogged with shoppers loading their carts up with what appeared to be fresh fruits and vegetables. I grabbed a bulb of garlic and attempted to quickly move to the next isle. One of the ways Price Rite saves money is by not having any rhyme or reason to where items are placed in the isles. There was ketchup next to cans of Cream of Mushroom soup next to baby food next to large boxes of matches. I applaud the fact that they are trying to save their customers money by just putting the pallet of merchandise on the floor, but it makes for an even longer shopping trip because nothing is in any kind of order. We had to back-track a few different times because we missed something or we thought we remembered seeing something an isle back. There's no point in putting your shopping list in any kind of order if the store isn't in any kind of order.
By the end of the shopping excursion, I'm not sure we saved a whole lot of money to be honest. We weren't able to get everything on our list. Luckily we had a cardboard box in our trunk because there was no way I was going to pay ten cents for each plastic bag. We ended up leaving the store in a worse mood than we started. It was a depressing shopping trip. But at the same time, it motivated me. It motivated me to find another money source other than my current job. It motivated me to save money. It motivated me to be smarter with what money I did have. I never want to shop there again. I swear to God I would rather go hungry than shop at that Price Rite again. That store is gross. It has nothing to do with the low-income shoppers I was surrounded by, because let's be honest: I am a low-income shopper. The owners and managers of that store don't give one single crap about their customers. They don't give one single crap about how their store looks. They don't give one single crap because they know there's no where else for their customers to go. Price Rite is the only grocery store in the Elmwood Village. It is the only grocery store within walking distance for many of their customers.
Price Rite knows this. They don't have another nicer store to compete with. In the suburbs Tops and Wegmans and even sometimes Quality Markets are all within a few blocks of each other so they need to compete with each other. They need to make sure their store looks the nicest or the cleanest. They need to make sure their customer service is the best. We don't have this luxury downtown. We're stuck with what we've got.