Just because your mother shopped at the A&P on Main Street forever doesn’t mean this will be the best place for you to go. If you ask, you might find the reason she went there was not because of the prices or the quality produce, but because her best friend Emma worked there and it was a nice opportunity for a chat.
Earlier I mentioned choosing a single store. In the first place, it makes no sense to go traveling from one store to another and buy the stuff that’s on sale. Considering the price of gas these days, this could actually cost more. It’s time-consuming and often frustrating, because you don’t know where things are in every store in town. Stores are different—even different outlets of the same chain will vary from location to location. That’s why it’s important to do some scouting around and find out which store meets your family’s needs.
Every chain advertises they have the lowest prices in town, and they’re not kidding. They all do have the lowest prices—on some items! It’s up to you to discover which store has the lowest prices on the things your family uses most often. Location is also important. You want to go somewhere that’s near either home or work, depending on when you do your shopping. Also consider how much you mind going there. Things like unpleasant smells and rude employees can be tip-offs to larger problems that could ultimately affect your family’s health.
Meat/deli/produce departments should not smell bad. If they do, it means their standards of cleanliness are not the greatest and this increases the possibility of things like food poisoning. Watch how the person behind the counter handles the food that will end up on your table. Are the glass showcases clean? Does anything look like it’s been there too long? The best, most conscientious grocers can screw up once in a while, but if you see too many instances of poor food handling, go somewhere else.
If a bad smell hits you the minute you walk in the store, turn around and walk out.
Most often if you encounter a rude cashier, it only means he or she is having a bad day. But if you find several people rude or unhelpful, maybe it means the whole staff would rather be working somewhere else and last thing they care about is whether they washed their hands after using the bathroom. That person might be the same one who also forgot to use gloves while slicing that package of deli meat you just put in your cart.
I’ve got one of those mega-stores in my neighborhood, the kind that’s a department store on one side and groceries on the other. I worked there during one Christmas season, and I’ve never seen an unhappier bunch of people in my life. They spent their breaks and lunch hours complaining about everything from the management staff to the hours to the customers. While I’m not above stopping by if they’ve got a great deal on a ceiling fan I’ve been wanting, I wouldn’t purchase so much as a can of peas there.