Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Metro columnist Dan Casey: Readers also irked at supermarket ploys
- Precinct problems need to be fixed
- Commerce Park news is greeted with yawn, sigh
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Read Dan's blog
Buying groceries and voting are two of life's universals, more or less. They were also the focus of a lot of reader reaction in the past month.
The first concerned my Nov. 4 column on the irritating practice by supermarkets of moving products around their stores to confuse customers and earn more money.
Although the technical term is a "reset," I dubbed it the "supermarket switcheroo." Many others find it infuriating.
Ted Towles of Fincastle got fed up with that practice. So just about a year ago he struck back in an email to Kroger.
Before changing stores, "I wanted Kroger to know what they were losing and why. I actually went back through my checkbook register for the previous two years and calculated that losing me would cost Kroger about $300 a month (for one adult human and two cats)," he wrote in an email.
"I could not be happier. The Food Lion is maybe 25 percent of the size of the Kroger store, and I have had to give up a lot in product variety and size choices. But the store has that old Mick-or-Mack feel."
Kathy Shaw of Hardy adds, "If I have to stop for an item I do not want to have to search the whole store for it. There have been times where I have walked out without buying anything because I got so fed up with trying to find the few things I wanted.
"Did you know that, in Walmart, coffee filters are not with the coffee? They are with the coffee makers. Like I'm going to buy a new coffee maker every time I need filters. Go figure."
Virgil Cook chimed in with some potentially money-saving supermarket shopping strategies.
"High-profit items are often placed at the end of store aisles," he wrote. "High-profit items are often placed at eye-level. Items placed near the floor or above eye-level where they are hard to reach discourages shoppers from buying them."
The column also struck a chord with Mary Bowers, a Cortland, N.Y., native who moved to Roanoke decades ago.
Her long-deceased husband used to sell bread to mom-and-pop grocery stores in upstate New York, like the ones my ancestors owned in Binghamton. My grandfather Jack Wilson was probably one of his customers, she noted. What a small world.
"As to the supermarkets, let them find a way to make a profit so they can keep their work force," Bowers wrote. But she added: "Also I am a Mick or Mack shopper where I am treated like a 'Queen.' Has [the] best made-in-store sausage."
Sandi Saunders of Hardy wrote that the really big supermarkets are too big.
"As someone who cannot walk much distance, I literally cannot get through them. I shop at the Food Lion in Vinton specifically because I can make it through the store, regardless of the prices."
The final word on supermarkets came from Jack Manscalco, who lives in New York's Hudson Valley but reads The Roanoke Times because he's considering moving here.
The present generation, he wrote on my blog, "saw fit to forget the niceties that came with mom-and-pop shopping in favor of 'I've got to have it now and have it cheap.' I find that as our spoiled cohort ages, we start to remember that there was beauty and grace in living simpler and working with our neighbors."
Amen to that.
The Nov. 24 column was a tongue-in-cheek "memo" about methods Virginia Republicans could employ to further suppress voting in what appears to be an increasingly "blue" Virginia. One was to reduce the number of precincts in Roanoke, so the lines would be long everywhere. That's actually under consideration.
It left former Roanoke School Board member Mignon Chubb-Hale laughing. She said she had called all her friends and urged them to read the column.
Bill Burtch of south Roanoke also enjoyed it. But "I sometimes think that somebody's going to set fire to your house, after some of the things you've written," he added.
Perneller Wilson, a founder of the Roanoke chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, sounded a similar note.
"You really put the hammer down in Sunday's paper," she said in a voice mail message. "I guess I'm going to have to hire a priest to follow you around."
He would get an eyeful, that's for sure.
Thanks, readers, for all your calls, letters, emails and blog comments. Please keep them coming.
Dan Casey's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.