Supermarket Saturday -- 08/24/02

It's almost noon on Saturday and I need to go grocery shopping.

I think I'll write a journal entry and maybe go for a run instead... I can go shopping later today.

As long-time readers know, I do most of the cooking around here and, hence, most of the shopping as well. This is the way it has always been.

Although I do not miss the upstate New York climate (especially the low number of sunny days and the high number of cloudy, rainy days that afflict the Binghamton area), I do miss the supermarkets. More than half of the supermarket dollars in the Broome County area used to be spent with Giant Markets, a local, family-owned chain (no connection with Giant markets in other parts of the country) that fought for every one of those dollars. As a family business they could make quick decisions, avoiding the bureacracy and chain-of-command that slowed their competitors. I always shopped in one of their stores until Wegman's opened a store... Wegman's runs super-sized stores... their Broome County store had thirty-six check-out lanes. Competition is a marvelous thing for keeping supermarket prices low. I miss Wegman's and Giant Markets, but I especially miss Wegman's, I've missed them since we moved to Rhode Island.

My daughter used to come shopping with me since she was a toddler and we always enjoyed those outings (okay, so it wasn't so easy when I had both kids with me). It was especially enjoyable when Wegman's opened their store. They had a Chinese restaurant in the store (as well as a deli and a pizza shop) and she loved sweet and sour chicken with fried rice (still does)... so we would have lunch together and then do the shopping. (One of our shopping rituals was to return bottles to get the deposit back and then use one of those dollars to buy a pair of New York lottery tickets... usually she would pick the numbers for one of them and use the numbers from a fortune cookie for the other... We looked at it as "free" fun because the bottle deposit refund paid for it. Rhode Island does not have a deposit law and I think I've only bought two or three PowerBall tickets since we moved here.)

When we first moved here, two area supermarkets had just folded, leaving Stop&Shop as the only big market in the area. I would grumble about prices everytime I shopped, seeing the difference in what I had to pay here compared with what Wegman's (and Giant) had charged. Fortunately, a Shaw's supermarket opened shortly after that (Note to U.K. readers, Shaw's is owned by Sainsbury's, a major U.K. chain; come to think of it, Stop&Shop is owned by a Dutch company) and Stop&Shop prices came down. Competition is a good thing.

Shaw's has really annoyed me recently. They brought back a special promotion they had run a couple of years ago. You get special refunds based on how much you spend, based on twenty-five dollar clumps of spending. There is a special form with little circles on it and the cashier stamps those circles according to how much you spent, one for each multiple of twenty-five dollars (so spending $99.99 counts as three, not four... you can trade in for a $10 refund when you get a dozen or so circles stamped or continue on to higher levels, finally reaching $100 for fifty or so circles)... and the cashier then staples the register tape to this form... Can you see how thick this clump of register tapes can get to be?

I've been there three times since this latest promotion began and twice have had to go back out to my car to get the paperwork out of the glove compartment. The last time I was grumbling to myself about this... Why can't they just keep track on their computer? (They have one of those customer affinity card programs, you have to have your card scanned in order to get the sale price, so you know they have the technology to do that.)... Why do they expect shoppers to go to the trouble of remembering to carry this stupid clump of paperwork into the store when they go shopping?

And then it hit me... They assume that their shoppers will carry this crap around in their purses!

Hey, that's sex discrimination!

Male shoppers don't carry purses!

Yeah, I know, not all women carry purses... I think Nancy only started carrying one when she needed reading glasses... and my daughter at age twenty has never owned a purse. But still, most women do carry purses and most men don't.

Belmont Produce, a local store that specializes in (as you may have guessed) fresh fruits and vegetables, has plans to move into the space left empty a few weeks ago when the Ro-Jacks chain closed their local store, and change into being a general food market. Their opening will be months away... I'm looking forward to being able to do my shopping at a local business. Earlier this summer a local butcher shop opened on Main Street -- Town Meats -- and I've already shifted much of my meat and deli purchases there. I buy a lot of my fuit and vegetables from Belmont but they close at 6pm so I usually can't shop there on week days. Yeah, I know, I called this "Supermarket Saturday" but I like to buy meat and produce as fresh as I can... my food shopping has tended to spread out over the entire week.

I've been digging around in boxes of photographs lately... Dozens and dozens of packages of pictures taken over the years... I think from time to time I'm going to dip into those boxes and pick a picture or two to scan. Here are two of them...

These were taken Sept. 8, 1984 at Nancy's sister Clara's wedding. Jennifer was two years old. The first picture shows her dancing with Nancy, the second one shows her playing with a balloon. Both were taken without a flash (probably using 800 speed film).

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