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An Open Letter to Bottom Dollar Foods
The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press ^ | June 14, 2012 | Daniel Clark

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 you’ve 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 they’re “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 couldn’t 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 I’ve bought. That may not be very ego-inflating, but at least it’s practical.

President Obama’s regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, has a word for what you’re doing. He calls it a “nudge.” Nudging is when you try to exercise control over somebody else’s 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 we’d 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.” I’m 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, they’ll 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. Let’s just assume, however, that she’s right. Are you prepared to lose 10 percent of your customers?

Mind you, she’s talking about places where consumers’ only options are to tolerate this inconvenience or leave town. In a city that size, that’s 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 doesn’t mean they were content with the situation.

Here, we have no citywide ban. If I can’t 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. I’ll simply go to another supermarket, a couple minutes away, and walk out carrying all the bags I need.

That’s the problem when you start nudging people. They won’t necessarily move in the direction you’d 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.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Food; Politics; Society
KEYWORDS: nudge; plasticbags; sunstein

1 posted on 06/16/2012 2:46:53 PM PDT by Daniel Clark
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To: Daniel Clark
Buy your regular super market items then when at the register remove all extraneous packaging and leave it on the belt. Tell them next time you're going to charge them.

2 posted on 06/16/2012 2:51:33 PM PDT by I see my hands (It's time to.. KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHER FREEPERS!)
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To: Daniel Clark
I decided on option number three, which was to put back all my groceries and walk away.

Yeah, well THEY would have been putting back all the groceries as I would have just walked away. The more they try to control our actions the more those of us who still believe in freedom should be exercising our liberties.

3 posted on 06/16/2012 2:58:14 PM PDT by Bullish
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To: Daniel Clark
Uh, Bottom Dollar is an ultra-low end supermarket. They don't even have plastic bags in my area. They have bins of repurposed cardboard packing boxes by the front - you can use those, or just brings bags with you. There isn't some great conspiracy here - BJ's has used recycled shipping boxes instead of plastic bags for years in order to save money. The profit margin in food stores is razor thin as is - for low-end budget stores like Bottom Dollar, it's even tighter, and thus they have to think of unconventional ways to cut expenses. What's wrong with just using the cardboard boxes?
4 posted on 06/16/2012 2:59:15 PM PDT by JerseyanExile
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To: JerseyanExile

He was willing to BUY the bags as he always has in the past. You’re fine to use the cardboard. Which, BTW, means it won’t be recycled as it always is by the store.

I think he’s right to resist the ‘nudge’.


5 posted on 06/16/2012 3:08:57 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle (Liberals, at their core, are aggressive & dangerous to everyone around them,)
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To: JerseyanExile

I have a supply of several thousands of plastic bags. I started hanging onto them when I heard talk about the government outlawing them......At least I will have a supply to take with me to the grocery store for a while-—LOL!


6 posted on 06/16/2012 3:11:27 PM PDT by basil
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To: JerseyanExile

Because I don’t want to. How’s that grab ya?

I suppose you ride your bicycle to the store and if not why not?

If I have to save bags you have to save gas.

How do like them apples?


7 posted on 06/16/2012 3:28:27 PM PDT by Eaker (When somebody hands you your arse, don't give it back saying "This needs a little more tenderizing.")
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To: Balding_Eagle

Why assume that it is a “nudge”, caused by some vast green conspiracy? If they were making money off of the bags, I very much doubt that they would stop selling them. If they stopped carrying them in his store, chances are that they weren’t selling enough for the practice to be cost effective. You have to accept that by going to budget stores like this instead of regular ones, there will be tradeoffs, like a lack of rainchecks and minimal weekly sales. Or a lack of plastic bags.


8 posted on 06/16/2012 3:40:45 PM PDT by JerseyanExile
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To: Daniel Clark

Excellent article.

What Obama is doing isn’t a nudge.

It’s not a push.

It’s shoving.
While telling us to shove it.


9 posted on 06/16/2012 3:44:21 PM PDT by Freddd (No PA Engineers)
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To: Daniel Clark

Excellent article.

What Obama is doing isn’t a nudge.

It’s not a push.

It’s shoving.
While telling u.s. citizens to shove it.


10 posted on 06/16/2012 3:48:59 PM PDT by Freddd (No PA Engineers)
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To: Bullish

I like I see my hands suggestion. I sure as hell wouldn’t put their groceries back. If I did, they would all be misfiled. However, I would hate to create additional work for the clerks.


11 posted on 06/16/2012 4:04:37 PM PDT by richardtavor
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To: Daniel Clark

Big downside to reusable bags: http://uanews.org/node/32521


12 posted on 06/16/2012 4:10:03 PM PDT by carriage_hill (All libs & most dems think that life is just a sponge bath, with a happy ending.)
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To: Daniel Clark

They probably ran out of the 5 cent bags.

I go to a store like that - rock bottom cheap - you bag/box your own groceries - bring a bag, find a box on the shelf, buy one or load loose groceries into a clothes basket and cooler in the car (I see a lot of people do that)

These guys work on low margins - no meat cutters, deli, no baggers...no extra expense of giving out free bags (they cost money)

I went there the other day and everything went up 20 cents or more - ugh.(they held the prices as long as they could)


13 posted on 06/16/2012 4:18:59 PM PDT by libertarian27 (Check my profile page for the FReeper Online Cookbook 2011)
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To: Daniel Clark

I wouldn’t eat food from a place called Bottom Dollar. You get what you paid for, and that’s a pay that says “not fit for human consumption”. They very well might have just run out of the bags. Our dollar stores (where I like to buy DVDs, such a fun random selection) do weird unprofessional stuff like that all the time, I’ve seen them with only 1 door unlocked, no manned registers, they’re very easily confused.


14 posted on 06/16/2012 4:23:50 PM PDT by discostu (Listen, do you smell something?)
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To: Daniel Clark

I agree with those who think this is a cost-cutting move, rather than some sort of a green conspiracy. I also think it’s hilarious to complain about a supermarket trying to “nudge”/manipulate consumer choices. EVERYTHING about any supermarket is designed to manipulate your choices - from overall layout to product placement to lighting to signage, and so on.


15 posted on 06/16/2012 4:37:50 PM PDT by Conscience of a Conservative
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To: Daniel Clark

Vitamin Cottage has been doing that: No bags. Their attitude is condescending and rude. If you don’t have a bag or box they snap at a bin of their boxes and scoff. I haven’t been back in several years now but their parking lot is never busy. Liberal bulsh*t never sells.


16 posted on 06/16/2012 4:41:27 PM PDT by CodeToad (Homosexuals are homophobes. They insist on being called 'gay' instead.)
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To: discostu
I wouldn’t eat food from a place called Bottom Dollar.

Why not? All the packaged foods are the same as in the regular full service markets. A Perdue chicken is the same chicken as in the more expensive ones - just $1.00/lb cheaper. I just checked the 'Bottom Dollar' flyer - they have Hellman's mayonnaise for $3.77 - the other guys are $4.99 - I know where I would shop.

17 posted on 06/16/2012 4:44:44 PM PDT by libertarian27 (Check my profile page for the FReeper Online Cookbook 2011)
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To: libertarian27

I doubt that highly. Probably the stuff at the discount store has been in storage longer and is closer to code, or is even from a different batch and recipe, possibly even less product. We know from stuff that’s come out about WalMart that those are all favorite ways of meeting WalMart’s price demands, including in their grocery section. You don’t make 25% of the price disappear by magic, that means 25% of the cost had to go away too.


18 posted on 06/16/2012 5:00:22 PM PDT by discostu (Listen, do you smell something?)
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To: discostu
Deep discount stores make money by buying large lots from wholesalers, closeouts and such. They get the same merchandise but pay a lot less. We have a chain in Ohio, Marc's, where a bag of pistachios costs 4.99. In the standard grocery store down the block it costs 11.99. No they're not rotten either.

Packaged meat and canned goods, petfood etc are all brand name, slightly to greatly cheaper, and in case you didn't know, they have sell-by dates, so you know they are current stock. Vegetables are fresh--no way to hide overaged veggies.

The only downside is they don't pay credit card companies--cash or check only. And longer lines and less elaborate checkout areas. If you have the time to spend an extra ten minutes in line, you can save a bundle. They even have free plastic bags.

19 posted on 06/16/2012 5:24:01 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: Daniel Clark
Never in my life had I been in a supermarket that ran out of plastic bags

I worked as a cashier in a grocery store back in college, and once in a while we did run out of one type of bag or another. Usually it was because somebody in management had been slow ordering more, or because the trucks got delayed for some reason. Once they got shipped to the wrong address. I don't think it occurred to anyone to warn people as they came in, we just improvised and apologized as best we could, with the cashiers and baggers taking the brunt of it if and when people got upset about it.

Just giving the perspective from the other side of things.
20 posted on 06/16/2012 5:24:43 PM PDT by Ellendra ("It's astounding how often people mistake their own stupidity for a lack of fairness." --Thunt)
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To: Daniel Clark

“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.


21 posted on 06/16/2012 5:26:14 PM PDT by BobL
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To: BobL

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.


22 posted on 06/16/2012 6:29:42 PM PDT by pithyinme (Smiling Joe Biden... too dumb to sell used cars ... to lazy to steal them.)
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To: JerseyanExile
Why assume that it is a “nudge”, caused by some vast green conspiracy?

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.

23 posted on 06/16/2012 6:32:31 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle (Liberals, at their core, are aggressive & dangerous to everyone around them,)
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To: hinckley buzzard

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”.


24 posted on 06/16/2012 7:06:36 PM PDT by discostu (Listen, do you smell something?)
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To: pithyinme

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.


25 posted on 06/16/2012 7:08:34 PM PDT by BobL
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To: JerseyanExile

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.


26 posted on 06/16/2012 7:45:24 PM PDT by scrabblehack
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To: BobL
most likely they would be required to throw out the perishables.

Only if they were taken out of the store.

27 posted on 06/16/2012 8:47:23 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by nature not nurture TM)
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To: steve86

“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.


28 posted on 06/17/2012 6:04:41 AM PDT by BobL
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To: Daniel Clark

So if plastic bags are outlawed, what does one use to clean up after fido when out on a daily walk?


29 posted on 06/17/2012 6:49:45 AM PDT by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: Daniel Clark
Aldi works the same way; no credit cards and no bags, you bring your own. And like BJ’s, to get a grocery cart you have to deposit a quarter and get it back when you return the cart – that saves them $ by not having to pay someone to retrieved shopping carts and probably cuts down on people stealing them. BTW, Aldi is owned by the same company as Trader Joe’s. The quality is pretty good even though a lot of the “brands” are not well known brands but in most cases are the very same thing but a lot cheaper.

Aldi

There is also a no frills chain in PA called Amelia’s. 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 doesn’t 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 they’ve been stored at the proper temperature.

Amelias

IMO, if you are going to go to a deep discount food store, you have to expect that in return for the savings, you’re not going to get all the frills and services that regular grocery stores offer.

30 posted on 06/17/2012 6:56:27 AM PDT by MD Expat in PA
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To: BobL
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.

When I worked at a grocery store, nearly every day I’d 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 didn’t want the item after all, so instead of walking a few feet and putting it back where it belonged, I’d 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 couldn’t 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.

31 posted on 06/17/2012 7:08:32 AM PDT by MD Expat in PA
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To: MD Expat in PA

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.


32 posted on 06/17/2012 8:22:45 AM PDT by BobL
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To: xarmydog

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.


33 posted on 06/17/2012 1:16:57 PM PDT by xarmydog
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To: BobL
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.

First of all when I worked in a grocery store it was the mid 80’s 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 I’m 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 it’s 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 don’t 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 you’re 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 BJ’s, Aldi’s, 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 don’t like it, don’t shop there but don’t be an ass about it. They are no-frills stores and don’t pretend to be anything but. I’ve been shopping at BJ’s for some items for years, going back to the mid 80’s, long before Obama and “green pissing” and know that they don’t provide bags. You either bring your own or go to the bin where they place empty cardboard boxes. That’s the way these stores keep costs down. I don’t 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.

34 posted on 06/17/2012 4:19:07 PM PDT by MD Expat in PA
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To: MD Expat in PA

“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.


35 posted on 06/17/2012 5:03:53 PM PDT by BobL
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