Saturday, 21 January 2012

Supermarket shopping

The second supermarket in the village has been taken over, renovated and is open for business.  When I first moved here, I went to that supermarket because it seemed bigger and that seemed to be what I was looking for in a supermarket.  I didn't find it to be very appealing though and went to the other one.  It was brighter and very cold inside - excellent in summer but not in winter.  It didn't take long for me to never go to the bigger supermarket and always go to the cold one because the cold one had lots of good stuff, even if it was a bit chaotic.

Whenever I was out of the village and had to shop at one of the Big Two supermarkets I noticed that their stock provided a lot less choice and I would quickly return to the village and happily pay the slightly higher prices in order to support the local community.

I've lived in this community since 2007 and had never been back into the "other" supermarket.  One day late last year, I noticed that all the windows were papered over and the shop was closed.  I felt bad.  I hoped it wasn't closed for good because even though I never shopped there it seemed important that there was a second supermarket.  I soon discovered that it was closed for renovations.  What a good sign.

I planned to give it another go when it opened for business again.  While it was closed, I noticed that my regular supermarket started to get some new lines in.  Things were moved around a little bit.  There was a whole new nut section in the green grocery department.  Competition can be a good thing for consumers!

The other supermarket did indeed open again and I could see that it was much improved even before I went in.  I went in just to have a look.  I wasn't committed to buying anything yet.  The atmosphere was better.  Things looked cleaner, brighter and more inviting.  There were staff everywhere and no other customers, but all the staff greeted me with a smile and the request that I let them know if there was something particular I was looking for.

On my way out a man stopped me and introduced himself as Mark.  He was the new owner of the supermarket and he was keen to find out what I thought.  I told him truthfully that I regularly shopped at the other supermarket as I had never found this one appealing.  He listened and he told me that he was still working on his lines, so if there was ever anything I was looking for that he didn't have I was to let him know.

I was impressed.

Other things were great too - no plastic bags are offered at all.  You can take a box away, bring your own bags or pay a small price for paper bags (20 cents I think).  They will be holding tastings once a month which should be an interesting community event as well as smart business on Mark's part.  They have a recipe up the front, invitingly displayed with the ingredients required to make it.  Today's recipe was a grilled peach, Persian feta and mint salad.  Yum!

I told my friends who live in the village about my experience and encouraged them to go in.  We'd all shopped at the other supermarket as a matter of course.  Other friends have also reported meeting Mark and having conversations with him about their shopping needs and his hopes for the business.  So it wasn't a one off.

Today I was looking for a particular item and couldn't find it.  I asked one of the women working there for help and she directed me to where I needed to go.  As I walked to the checkout she asked me, genuinely, whether or not I had found the item I wanted and whether it was the brand that I was looking for.

I think the other supermarket might be getting a run for its money.

What do you look for in a supermarket?

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