Grocery shopping doesn’t look like it used to. Large box stores where you don’t know any of the employees and filled with more products than you know what to do with. Even in the 80’s when I was a kid you knew your grocery cashiers. We shopped on the same day of the week and they became familiar. In some cases, they were our neighbors or friends from church. It was another spot that had some interaction and community even if we never saw them outside of work. This reason is why people enjoy shopping at Trader Joe’s. Small stores with friendly people who watch your kids grow up. Sounds too good to be true, but it doesn’t have to be and you have control over making it happen.
The number one reason you should talk to your grocery store manager is to find out what they are doing with out of date products and ugly produce that they decide they can’t sell. Food waste is a huge issue not only because it’s food that could be given to hungry people in our communities, which is reason enough to be a huge issue, but also because it is a waste of resources. It takes a lot of time, energy, petroleum and water to produce and transport that food. Some of those resources are directly affecting climate change. There are tons of organizations at the ready to take this food off the hands of grocery stores. They will even come pick it up and provide the grocery store a tax write-off.
Food waste is a huge issue not only because it’s food that could be given to hungry people in our communities, which is reason enough to be a huge issue, but also because it is a waste of resources. It takes a lot of time, energy, petroleum and water to produce and transport that food. Some of those resources are directly affecting climate change. There are tons of organizations at the ready to take this food off the hands of grocery stores. They will even come pick it up and provide the grocery store a tax write-off.
So what is the hold up for these stores? It could be many things, but one of the biggest is that they don’t want to risk being responsible if the product is bad and makes someone sick. A totally understandable hold-up. Most places have Good Samaritan laws that protect the businesses from just that thing. So this isn’t really the best excuse.
Unfortunately, these days large companies and corporations take the easy way out unless the community they serve makes it obvious that they are disappointed, outraged and willing to spend their money elsewhere. So get to know your manager, ask them what they do, tell them what you expect and then call or write the corporate office to tell them how you feel. Keep checking in and following up because the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Also be prepared to shop with a different corporation or even better find a local store if you aren’t already with them.
What they carry
If you want to get certain products in your store your relationship with the store manager will help you greatly. One person may not make an impact, but if there are dozens of other customers asking for the same thing sometimes your voice can help add to the growing demand and make it a reality. Here is the thing about grocery stores, especially the big ones, they are there to make money. They don’t sell groceries for any other reason. The best way, actually the only way, to make money is to sell what the customers want to buy. So speak up, get your like-minded friends to speak up and when they start carrying it make sure you buy it.
This also works for things you don’t want on the shelves. Don’t just stop buying it, tell them why you are stopping and why you don’t want them to carry it. Ultimately the decision will be made on dollars spent, but telling them why could help impact other positive changes before you even have to ask.
Positive feedback for the crew
What you may not know about working at a grocery store is that it can be a very thankless job. If you walk into your local store and everyone looks miserable it probably has a lot to do with the lack of positive feedback. Here’s what frequently happens. Customers come in and shop and if they have a good experience they don’t say much and just come back next week. If they come in and have a bad experience they loudly complain to at least 3 people, including the manager if they are around. Now if you have a bad experience you should, by all means, communicate that, but take the time to communicate the good stuff too.
Managers can’t be everywhere at once. At some of those large stores, there can be hundreds of employees. That is a lot to keep track of and guess what, the positive stories aren’t what ends up on their plate. The problems and complaints end up there. If someone takes good care of you and does a good job make everyone’s day and tell them. Then tell a manager. Even better tell the manager in front of the employee and a gaggle of other customers. You might be surprised what that kind of recognition will do for your next shopping trip.
Do you know your grocery store, manager? Do you know if they donate their food?0