Skip to comments.An Open Letter to Bottom Dollar Foods
Posted on 06/16/2012 2:46:47 PM PDT by Daniel Clark
An Open Letter to Bottom Dollar Foods
by Daniel Clark
When Bottom Dollar Foods arrived in Pittsburgh, it immediately became my favorite grocery store. A discount supermarket that carries name brand items in addition to its store brands, it has also got reasonably-priced meats and excellent produce. Disappointingly, my shopping days at Bottom Dollar may be numbered, however, if my recent experience there turns out to be the start of a trend.
As I was about to check out, I noticed that the 5-cent plastic shopping bags that normally hang near the registers were missing. The cashier informed me that the store had run out of them, at which time I noticed that other shoppers were packing their groceries in cardboard boxes, or else buying those allegedly planet-saving cloth handbags, which are of little use if youve got a whole cartload of items. I decided on option number three, which was to put back all my groceries and walk away.
I do not for a second believe that this came about by happenstance. Never in my life had I been in a supermarket that ran out of plastic bags, until after those bags were declared to be evil by those who presume the authority to make such determinations. If you are test-marketing their absence to see if your customers are willing to undergo a degree of third-worldification in exchange for feeding their conceit that theyre saving the planet, then count this letter as an emphatic no vote.
I realize that the city of Los Angeles has just banned the use of plastic grocery bags, but Pittsburgh is not Los Angeles, and I really couldnt give a flying organic raspberry whether or not Julia Louis-Dreyfus approves of my shopping habits. There may be those who look to their supermarket for personal validation, but I, for one, would rather have a convenient way to carry home all the things that Ive bought. That may not be very ego-inflating, but at least its practical.
President Obamas regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, has a word for what youre doing. He calls it a nudge. Nudging is when you try to exercise control over somebody elses behavior by positioning your preferred outcome as his least inconvenient option. A store that had innocently run out of plastic bags would have warned its customers of that fact as soon as they entered the building. Telling us only at the register, once wed already filled our carts, was a classic, textbook example of a nudge.
When Sunstein is the one doing the nudging, he thinks of himself as the choice architect of the people he nudges. You are not my choice architect. Im your customer, not your subject for social experimentation. As long as we both understood that arrangement, everything between us had been fine.
At the risk of bruising your self-esteem, Bottom Dollar Foods is not exactly avant-garde. The soy milk and whole grains crowd will never give you any more than patronizing approval of your politically correct efforts. Then, theyll be off to their local Smug-Mart to buy their sustainable, free-range, rainforest-approved, glacier-saving, cannabis-flavored peanut butter, and laugh behind your back while calling you things like bourgeois and gauche.
Louis-Dreyfus claims that once plastic bags are outlawed, 90 percent of the customers will start bringing their own containers with them when they go shopping. I find that highly improbable, and suspect instead that a boom in grocery store construction is about to take place a few miles outside of L.A. city limits. Lets just assume, however, that shes right. Are you prepared to lose 10 percent of your customers?
Mind you, shes talking about places where consumers only options are to tolerate this inconvenience or leave town. In a city that size, thats often not a realistic choice at all. In the Soviet Union, where people had no choice either, they were willing to stand in line for hours just to get toilet paper that could scour the finish off a car, but that doesnt mean they were content with the situation.
Here, we have no citywide ban. If I cant count on bagging my groceries at your store like a normal member of Western civilization, I will not have to resign myself to carrying them in a giant basket balanced on top of my head. Ill simply go to another supermarket, a couple minutes away, and walk out carrying all the bags I need.
Thats the problem when you start nudging people. They wont necessarily move in the direction youd hoped.
-- Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.
“I decided on option number three, which was to put back all my groceries and walk away”
There is NO WAY that would have put anything back. I would have just left them the shopping cart full of items...and most likely they would be required to throw out the perishables.
I work for the parent company of Bottom Dollar Foods. The cashier should have told you the truth. The store was designed to take as much cost out of grocery shopping as possible. Plastic bags cost money... not so much about tree hugging as it is about thrift. It’s a great concept. Go back save some money... how conservative is that! I wished we put one in my area.
Maybe it isn't, maybe someone just forgot to order.
But, as you yourself point out, it is a vast conspiracy, and reaches out to punish everyone it can.
I think my tagline fits here too.
Closeouts are closeouts for a reason. And it’s not always the same merchandise. We’ve learned this from WalMart.
Yes I know all about sell-by dates. I also know how many stores will not buy product past a certain distance from the sell-by dates which is where the discount stores come in on those closeouts. Sure you get the same merchandise then, but the amount of storage time you get is greatly reduced. And there’s ways to hide overage in veggies: freezers. Any produce I was ever dumb enough to get from WalMart or cheaper was freezer burned.
There’s a lot of downsides, the products tend to be less fresh, smaller, and often made with a different cheaper formula. You’re often times not saving anything, especially when they use product size to make their “discount”.
Naa, it wasn’t me, it was the person who posted the story.
As for myself - no, if a store that I shop in stopped offering bags (as happened here) out of a policy change, I would expect them to make a reasonable effort to let their customers know about it. From there I can choose whether to shop there. I respect their right to run their business as they wish.
But if I do my shopping AND THEN find they got rid of bags, and they didn’t take reasonable steps (in my opinion, of course) to inform me of it BEFORE I began shopping that day...I would be angry and would let them deal with my full cart.
Hmmm....it just occurred to me that “top dollar” = “bottom dollar.” It’s sort of like “fat chance” and “slim chance.”
“You can bet your bottom dollar that...” means “you should be completely certain.” I took it to mean that if you opened up your wallet, your largest bill would be on the bottom.
At the same time, “top dollar” = “most expensive.”
Yeah, I know, it’s not all that relevant to the discussion.
Only if they were taken out of the store.
“Only if they were taken out of the store.”
That doesn’t make sense...that a cart could sit for hours with milk in it, as long as it stays in the store?
Maybe if they can document (via camera) how long its been there, then yes, put it back if less than 30 minutes or so, or has a chain of custody where it wasn’t left alone.
I’m not doubting you...I just think that’s stupid.
So if plastic bags are outlawed, what does one use to clean up after fido when out on a daily walk?
There is also a no frills chain in PA called Amelias. They specialize in close out products and even some post dated items at a very deep discount. As far as dating, many products, canned and boxed goods, have a Sell By Date or a Best If Used By Date. That doesnt mean that the product suddenly turns rancid on that date. In fact the Sell By Dates factor in that the product will not necessarily be used and consumed on or by the Sell By Date. Many years ago, I worked as a dairy dept. manager for a large grocery chain. Milk is a good example of the Sell By Date milk is good for 5 7 days after the Sell By Date. Other items like processed cheese or margarine are perfectly fine to eat in most cases, long after the expiration date as long as theyve been stored at the proper temperature.
IMO, if you are going to go to a deep discount food store, you have to expect that in return for the savings, youre not going to get all the frills and services that regular grocery stores offer.
When I worked at a grocery store, nearly every day Id find perishable items like expensive cuts of meat and seafood or frozen items placed on shelves where for some reason or another, the shopper decided that they didnt want the item after all, so instead of walking a few feet and putting it back where it belonged, Id find the item, often hours after it had been abandoned on a shelf of cereals or canned goods or sometimes sitting on the floor. Of course those items couldnt be returned for sale and had to be placed in the spoilage area to be inventoried and written off as a loss. And who do you think pays for that loss? You and I do.
Why not just stuff the items down your pants and walk out of the store without paying for it? The end result is just the same.
If I’m treated like CRAP by some Obama-lover running a store, who suckers me to spend an hour shopping, just to find out that I have no way to carry my stuff, tough luck.
As to you (or others) working there - if you work for that guy, you should quit, otherwise you’re part of the problem.
Having listened to the hype of plastic bags that do not deteriorate,I live in southwest Texas.I have a large yard that is cleaned off.A plastic bag became entangled in a mesquite bush and I observed it for two months until I could no longer stand seeing it anymore from my kitchen window.When I finally got off my a#%,I went and grabbed it and it disintegrated in my hand.Poof,gone.One suggestion,[had to convince wife],Go to produce section and double bag produce.You get bags that are sturdy and great for leftover dumping and garbage.She is a believer.
As to you (or others) working there - if you work for that guy, you should quit, otherwise youre part of the problem.
First of all when I worked in a grocery store it was the mid 80s and had nothing at all to do with Obama or green pissers for that matter or the lack of grocery bags at that time it was still a choice as to plastic or paper and we had plenty of both, although I do recall one time we ran out of paper bags because of some order or supplier snafu. Just what some gal or guy working part time at the checkout lane, making barely above minimum wage needs to hear is some asshat cursing at them because of something completely out of their control and yea, I saw that happen.
When I was a teenager and working at a convenience store one day a customer complained that the creamer had curdled in her coffee. I very politely and profusely apologized and told her to pour another cup and that I would get some fresh creamer from the walk in box for her and that it would be on the house. And what did she do? She cursed at me like a drunken sailor and then threw the cup of steaming hot coffee at my head. It was a good thing I was young had good reflexes and dodged it. I would have called the police and filed an assault complaint but she left the store and sped away so fast, it was pointless. Sometimes there are people who take out the frustrations of their lives out on folks who have nothing at all to do with it. Unless Im treated very rudely, I tend to go out of my way to be polite to people working in retail and restaurant servers because I know what its like to be treated like dirt by folks who get some sort of kick out of being rude.
What I was talking about was shoppers who pick up perishable goods like meats and seafood and frozen foods and then change their minds about buying them and instead of putting them back where they belong or taking them to the check out and letting the cashier know that they dont want the items, dump them where ever they happen to be when they change their mind. I found it disgusting to find a package of expensive salmon or a really nice steak stuck between boxes of cereal, the package warm and leaking and making an awful mess for me to clean up, not to mention the waste. I also sometimes found abandoned food items placed in the freezer aisle, same result, unusable and un-sellable. Again if youre going to do that, you might as well walk out of the store without paying for it as the end result is the same. And stores make up these losses by factoring in the losses into their prices.
Secondly, stores like the one in the article, Bottom Dollar Foods and stores like BJs, Aldis, etc. are not refusing to provide bags because they love Obama. They do it as a cost saving measure and pass those savings on to their customers in the form of lower prices. If you dont like it, dont shop there but dont be an ass about it. They are no-frills stores and dont pretend to be anything but. Ive been shopping at BJs for some items for years, going back to the mid 80s, long before Obama and green pissing and know that they dont provide bags. You either bring your own or go to the bin where they place empty cardboard boxes. Thats the way these stores keep costs down. I dont mind it because I like saving money.
Again, they are not treating you or anybody else like CRAP because they have some hidden political agenda.
“Again, they are not treating you or anybody else like CRAP because they have some hidden political agenda. “
Well they that puts us on the same page. If the store has a problem with getting enough bags, and lets me know about it when I show up, I will politely leave.
If they don’t let me know, I will assume that they have some political agenda, or they have REALLY CRAPPY management. Either way, they can put my crap away, as I already gave them enough of my time.
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