When we first moved to Virginia Beach, finding a grocery store was not a problem. Within a three-mile area, there were no less than six food stores. Shortly thereafter, Trader Joe’s moved in and now we have Whole Foods, bringing the total to eight food stores within three miles. All but two are a mile or less away. So, as I said, I have plenty of food stores to choose from.
Of course, they all differ from each other in certain ways, by what products they carry, how expensive they are, and customer service. The store that has the best prices by far is Krogers. It also has just about anything I need. If I shop there, my grocery budget will go a lot further. But if I go there, my self esteem plummets. I feel as if I’m invisible when I’m in that store. For example, a few days ago, I decided to give Kroger another chance. They’ve been doing some major remodeling (funny how that happened just after Whole Foods moved in across the parking lot), and even though my last trip to their store was a thoroughly unpleasant experience, I thought they might have developed a new attitude along with their facelift. No such luck.
I stood by the deli for a full three minutes before anyone noticed me, even though I was the only customer at the counter. The man who waited on me made it quite clear with his sour expression when he finally came over to wait on me, that he had better things to do than deal with a customer. He filled my first order, and when I asked for a second item, he sighed heavily and passed me over to another person to wait on me. She didn’t seem any happier to help me. When I checked out, the cashier never smiled, and when she finished checking out my order and said, “Have a nice day,” she never even made eye contact with me. I went in the store in an upbeat mood but left with my shoulders sagging. Believe it or not, this experience was actually better than the incident that made me stay away from Krogers in the first place.
When I go to the gourmet market or Whole Foods, every employee, without exception, is friendly and helpful. They look me in the eye, acknowledge my presence, and strike up conversations. They smile and joke and remember me when I return. Yes, I’m sure they were trained to go out of their way to serve, but they seem to do it with genuine enjoyment.
So, here’s the thing. Do I go to the store that is by far the best value, or do I go to the high-priced stores where the employees make me feel important and appreciated? Do I just swallow my pride to save my money, or do I forget about the money issue and go where grocery shopping is a pleasant experience? I choose the latter. What about you?