I Tried to Hold Myself Back, but I Just Couldn’t!

(I should start by telling you this has absolutely nothing to do with mystery books.)

It’s been so long since my last rant (well, maybe not THAT long!) that you all are probably thinking I have gotten a dose of niceness. Not to worry, things are normal here!

I have ranted before about our neighborhood grocery store (many times!) and thought I would “make nice” and try not to blast it again. But I simply cannot hold myself back!

I have told you all about HEB (our Texas grocery store chain) knocking out all of the other grocery stores here in San Antonio. Boy! Had I only known that when we first got here our HEB had competitive prices only to get rid of all of their competition. (You know what they say about monopolies!) Skip forward several years, and our HEB is the only game in town. (We have Walmart  and Target superstores, which are a nice, but they aren’t able to carry as many grocery items.) Unfortunately, our “regular” HEB grocery stores are becoming less grocery stores, and more “sell-big-money-item” super-size stores.

Apparently HEB has profited a whole lot by this “kick-them-out-of-town” strategy, as they have been building new HEB super-size stores that are simply huge. Luckily, I don’t have little children who I cart around the stores, because the new HEBs make that a real trick for parents. In our neighborhood HEB, as you walk in the “grocery store” the first thing that greets you is some type of big money item marketed toward kids. That’s right, depending on the time of year, you can be sure that you will be greeted by a bouncy-ball ca$tle (or something just as co$tly) to entice your children.

As you keep walking toward the back of the store, to your left you will find the aisles of seasonal candy, decorations, and more candy. Behind the seasonal candy are aisles of toys, including more expensive toys like bicycles. Just what you want to have to maneuver through – after you have finally explained to your little ones that several hundreds of dollars for a huge bouncy-ball castle doesn’t fit in your budget.

Continuing toward the back of the store, you go through – and I am NOT making this up!!! – the big screen television area. Of course, no big screen television area can be complete without the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition >>> so I guess we know who this area is geared to! Not to worry, little children aren’t the ones purchasing the big money televisions, but they make sure your little ones are entertained throughout the store by crowding big screen TVs in the aisles – with animated movies playing all day long.

I could go on and on about the marketing wizardry that takes place over at “My HEB”, but I should probably wrap this up. Before I do, lest you think I’m picking on this mega-money machine, let me finish by telling you why I find their motto “My HEB” preposterous. Their (to me) most blatant marketing “let’s-make-the-shopper-have-to-walk-the-entire-store-to-promote-impulse-buying” ploy: The last time I ventured into “My HEB” I discovered that they have separated the coffee and tea. They have placed each of these items (literally!) on opposite sides of the mega store. Is there a college degree that focuses on how to make more money for the store while making things more difficult for the consumer? If so, we have some Summa Cum Laude graduates right here at “My HEB”!

It is for all of these marketing shenanigans that I actually avoid going to My (neighborhood) HEB. Since they are a monopoly, I drive to another “My HEB” that is just a little farther from our home, but I come home a lot happier. Yes, this “My HEB” also has big screen televisions and aisles of toys, but I don’t have to “obstacle course” nor “scavenger hunt” through this “My HEB”.

Do you remember the days when customer service was more important than marketing?

Comments

  1. I can sympathize with your irritation but can’t help adding a lol. Did you mean Summa Cum LATTE? Probably took one of those to think up separating the coffee and tea!

  2. Maybe they came up with a new level of distinction- Summa Cum Chai! Maybe I better go hose myself down now.

  3. Danna, how awful! We are lucky enough to have 7 grocery stores within a few miles. Three are owned by one local company but are a bit different according to location. One other is a wonderful local Baltimore store that has come out here recently and been welcomed. Two are regional chains from Pennsylvania. Since that’s where I grew up, they’re my favorites. The last is Wegmans, which is a huge store with loads of fresh produce and wonderful grassfed ground beef. I’m not counting the 2 Walmarts and 2 Targets because I won’t shop for food there. Oh, and I forgot our small but mighty natural foods store, which is a branch of a larger Maryland store where I shop once a week. None of them are anything like “Your HEB.” I guess living far from the city is a good thing, at least here!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Deb, you are very lucky to have a variety of grocery stores to choose from. Now that HEB has knocked the competition out of town, they are able to carry their products, while slowly getting rid of the products most of us are familiar with. Also, they are able to place their own brands at eye level while putting the brands they don’t want us to buy toward the bottom of the shelves.

  4. Ah, megastores. I hate them. The two closest grocery stores or should I say stores that sell groceries are megastores. I drive past them on my way to a real grocery store. It takes too long to pick up a quart of milk or a loaf of bread. I have literally done without to avoid turning a 15 minute trip into a 30+ minute trip because the trip to the dairy case is a city block away from where I parked and the acre of checkout lines are unmanned except for the two on the opposite side of the store, another city block from the grocery aisles and coincidently, right next to the electronics.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Moonlight, I used to like it when grocery stores carried groceries, and stores like Walmart and Target left their aisle space for non-food merchandise. It seems like with all of these megastores, there is less shelf space, which in turn means less different brands of one item to choose from. I hear you about walking a city block to get from one staple to another!

  5. Interesting that you have a Walmart that is apprently being beaten at its own game. They traditionally are the predators who move into an area, low-ball prices until the small business owners are driven out then raise the prices and fire part of their staff to reduce costs (the same staff they trumpeted about hiring and providing new jobs in the area).

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Julia, our Walmart was a whole lot better before it devoted a lot of space to groceries. Years ago, we lived next door to a lovely family who owned a store (similar to Hallmark), which they subsequently lost when the Walmart came to town.

  6. How horrible. We are lucky in Santa Barbara as we have many health food store choices, and less big box corporate grocery. As an organic vegetarian only, I do not shop at grocery stores as they are so unhealthy. The marketing you talk about is disgusting and so overt.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Lexie, they just built a Whole Foods store right outside of our neighborhood, but we don’t shop there. It’s just a little pricey for us, plus it doesn’t seem to carry any “normal” brands. Now, if I wanted some type of fancy cookie imported from Italy, it would be the first place I would try.

      • I visited a friend in Austin a couple of years ago………the first and only time I’ve been to Texas. It was over 100 degrees for something like 50+ days in a row. It was difficult to do outdoor activities. She took me to Whole Foods downtown Austin. It was huge. We ate lunch there — LOTS of choices, which were reasonably priced. I remember I had the best pizza ever. I know we all have different tastes in pizza, but I recommend you try this one sometime. It had basil sauce (instead of tomato sauce) as a base, then topped with sausage, mushrooms, cheese, etc. YUM!

        • Danna - cozy mystery list :

          MJ, I don’t know how people lived down here before the advent of air conditioning. It’s supposed to get up to 95* today.

          When my daughter went to UT in Austin, she dated a boy who absolutely loved the “restaurant” foods at Whole Foods. Now that she is living up there, I’ll let her know about the pizza.

  7. Danna…I can’t imagine being in your situation. I have two wonderful grocery stores near me…one is Safeway (my favourite) and the other is Shoppers Food Warehouse. besides that there are several others that I don’t shop, no reason not to, just that I never have. These stores are grocery stores and not let’s put everything we can think of in them stores. I do have a SAMs Club, a Costco, a couple of WalMarts and a Target near me, but they are for buying things other than groceries in mind.
    One thing that really peeves me is the mothers who bring their kids along, for whatever reason and just dump them in the toy department of the major stores as they go ahead and get their groceries. They have no idea what the little dears are doing or even if they are safe. If they are playing in the toy area they have everything strewn around and quite often have broken things so they aren’t sellable.

    End of my rant…but I guess in the long run there are issues with the way stores do business all over the country.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Bev, I remember when we lived in an area that had a Safeway. It was my grocery store of choice. We also have Sams and Costcos here in town, but I don’t like the idea of having to pay to join a place just for the priviledge of buying from them. Also, I can only use so much mustard!

      (Whenever I see children left in the toys’ area of a store I am reminded of what happened to America’s Most Wanted host, John Walsh.)

  8. Danna,We have a Kroger (2) store, a Walmart, (every 15 miles) an older Mom and Pop store, and a Meier’s store all within, I would say, at least none over a 15 minutes drive. Although I do buy groceries at the Walmart and the Meier’s I only buy items that are REALLY and TRULY on “Sale” or are lower than Kroger’s. The older mom and pop store is dirty.
    The TV adds for Walmart and Meier’s all claim to have “lower prices” I find myself asking “lower than what or lower than whom!!>??)
    I tend to buy except for a few items, the Kroger Brand items simply because, more often than not that brand is a WHOLE LOT CHEAPER than the national brands and I fail to see a lot of difference in the quality of the product.. Once in awhile the national brand is on sale cheaper (I am a choosy mother, I choose Jif) than the Kroger Brands but not often, and I think this is by design.
    There is a newer grocery store chain around the Columbus, Ohio area called “The Giant Eagle.” Might be Giant Golden Eagle. Talk about higher prices!! I don’t know how they stay in business with those high prices. I went in once and that was all. My SS check won’t go that far!!
    Krogers has an advertising campaign going on now where they are offering the common products that most people buy on a regular bases at lower prices. BUT, the other items have gone way up in cost. The newspaper add had almost the same items on sale each and every week. There isn’t much difference in the selection. It seems as if the sale prices are good for a 2 week period but then that item will go way up in the not so far off future.
    I also find that if there is a coupon for a particular product in the weekend newspapers that coupon is more often than not for 2 or more purchases of that product and that product is a whole lot higher in the store. Those coupons mean very little. Case in point, I had a coupon for a certain brand of dog biscuits but I had to buy 2 to get a dollar off. The dog biscuits were over 4 dollars a box.. I would have had to pay over 8 dollars to get a dollar off. I buy this brand of dog biscuits all the time and I have never paid over 2.50 or 3 dollars a box EVER.

    As far as the kids’ items being placed out front for each and every kid to see I can remember a time when some of the grocery stores around here had checkouts that had signs saying, “No candy or toy” aisles.
    What I can’t understand is how the employees of those stores with the goodies out front for the kids can stand that crying and the screaming of the kids that will go on the whole time those kids are in the store when a gisty mom and dad say “No” and mean “NO.” I guess because the managers of the stores fully realize that some parents are going to pick this stuff up just to have that kid shut up. When I see parents sticking to their guns and not giving into the kid, I give that parent a pat on the back. We need parents who aren’t afraid to say “no”, mean ” No,” to not only the kid but also to the store manager. When the store managers have more of the products for kids in their stores come that particular season’s end, they have to mark them way down in order to get rid of them and not have the stuff on their inventory, they will realize that not all their ploys are going to work all the time. Consumers need to just pay attention to what they think is really a bargain. It’s up to us. The store managers are only out to make money for their stores, which is their job.
    At one time we had several different stores in our little town of just over 20,000 people, including several mom and pop stores. But except for the ones that I mentioned before, they all are gone. They just couldn’t compete. For some of my non perishables I find myself going to the “$ general” stores. I can really save there. Don’t worry about the ranting and the raving. We all need to do that more often about certain subjects.
    Remember when President Carter tried to take on Winn-Dixie?” He didn’t last long as president. I wonder if there was any connection!!??

  9. A grocery store that sells big screen TVs? That is kooky! I avoid big stores as much as possible. We live in a small town that has a couple of mega-box stores, but we choose to shop in a locally owned grocery store that only sells GROCERIES. Maybe that’s old-fashioned. :-) No big TVs and no bicycles! Not only the amount of space you have to cover, but the time it takes just to buy the necessities in a megabox – I prefer a place I can get in, buy what is needed, get out and on with my life.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Donna, when the grocery stores start making room for big screen TVs, jewelry and hand bag counters (yes, they have those too!), and a clothes department, it just means there is less space for actual groceries, which then filters down to less varieties of products, which then leads them to showcase their items. Can you tell I’m fed up?!?

  10. We have a new HEB megastore, but the smaller (and it’s quite small) HEB is still in the old location. That’s the HEB I frequent. Strangely it seems to keep items on the shelf, whereas the bigger store runs out. But the bigger store often has special on fish–I think they order too much. So then I end up shopping at both of them. I definitely prefer the smaller HEB. No TVs. They do have candy out in front, especially seasonal.

    We still have a Randals (and their prices are now more reasonable) and Walmart. No more Albertsons. We also have Whole Foods if HEB isn’t expensive enough for some reason…

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Maria, you aren’t kidding about Whole Foods’ prices! They just built one on our side of town, which my husband and I went to check out. Since it is right by our Target, we had just walked over and could remember the prices of the fruit. Let me just say, we walked back to Target to get our fruit.

  11. Danna- So sorry that it is such a hassle to do basic grocery shopping at your store. Makes you really wonder if these stores care about the customer at all. I have a nice locally owned grocery store that I shop at. The people are friendly and helpful, they are more than willing to help if you need something special or cannot find it. I actually look forward to shopping there. We have several grocery stores in my area and I have shopped at the bigger stores because they had a bigger selection. I tell you what, they might have more merchandise, but they sure do not have the customer service of the store I regularly shop at. I always go back and am grateful to shop there.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Patti, you’re lucky to have a locally owned grocery store.

      It doesn’t make me wonder if “My HEB” cares about their customers. I’m pretty sure they don’t. When they first closed down our neighborhood “regular” “My HEB”, they assured us they would keep all of the products they used to carry in the smaller store. They handed out little green cards and told us to fill them out with the products we were used to finding in the aisles, and they would make sure they would get them stocked at the new “My HEB”. Naivete over-came me, and I actually thought they meant it. I filled out five of those little green cards. I am pretty sure they simply filed those little green cards right in their trash cans.

  12. Linda the “we have lowest prices” is compared to Winn Dixie and Publix. Which they do, unless you buy items 10 @ $1 or their “Meal Deals” or for the gas savings.

    I live in a very small town in Florida and we have 1 grocery store. It was just recently bought out by IGA. They have the best prices on meats that I have ever seen. So we buy our meats there and then for everything else we have to drive 15 miles to Walmart or Save-A-Lot.

    At Walmart though the key is to make a list and just get those items. Don’t go “window shopping” in other areas.

    I am part impulse buyer, but I’m learning what not to do.

    As for kids, I have friends that will have someone babysit so they can shop alone. Very smart in my opinion.

    Last, don’t forget the college grads who came up with “Let’s raise the price, give smaller portions, then say it is on sale”… What the crap is that all about.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Nita, I thought all IGAs were independently owned. When my husband and I travel through small towns in Texas, we see them. HEB only goes into larger towns, where they know they can make a profit with their monopoly-game.

      • The “Mom and Pop” store that I mentioned was at one time an IGA store. But the original owners of the store died leaving the store to his son who also died leaving the store to his sons. The sons are the ones who have let the store rundown. The mother of those sons is still alive but unable to do much about the deterioration of the once very well respected store in our town.
        I don’t know if this is the reason the store is no longer an IGA but the coincidence is there. The sons also own a convenience/gas station that almost always has the highest gas prices in town.
        By the way, speaking of the price of gas around the country, don’t expect the government to try to do anything about those high gas prices. As long as the government is collecting the higher taxes on the selling of that gas, our government wont’ do anything to help any of us.
        Sorry Danna, that is my rant for the day— month, I hope.

    • Nita R, Since my DH and I have been retired and are on a very well fixed income we make a list of what grocery items we will need. We get those first. I bring a notebook to the grocery store with me and I keep track of what we are spending as we go. If there is any money left from our grocery budget then we get the extra stuff. This is the only way we have found to stay in our budget. This does work though.
      I understand what Danna was trying to get at in her original rant about the big megastores running others out of an area.That has happened quite often in our area.
      I know a lot of people complain about stores like Kroger’s and Walmart. But you know, nothing tells us that we have to go to Walmart.
      I think one of the main reasons for the rise of the megastores can be contributed to both adults in a household working outside the home.
      At one time most Mom and Pop stores in our area would close down around 5 or 6 p.m. With parents sometimes working later hours the parents couldn’t go shopping until the weekends, many on Sundays. I know when I still had a family at home and I worked I couldn’t go shopping until well after 6 most times. I had to get home from work, fix supper, get the kids to whatever event they were to go to and then maybe I could go shopping. I needed those stores that stayed open later.
      It’s the convenience of those megastores being opened when we need them that gave rise to their prominence in our lives. Also because of all the activities those kids of these families are in has made the reason for all of these newer stores to have so much stuff other than groceries in their stores to sell. We wanted to be able to go to only one store, get everything we wanted and thought we needed and get out and then get on with our daily lives. We get what we ask for a lot of times.

  13. You say that HEB is a monopoly but I’ll bet there is at least one local grocery that’s owned by someone in your community. Yes, you may pay a bit more for an individual item but I’ll bet that if you kept a price diary of your overall spend, you’d quickly see a reduction. The mom and pop’s don’t sell the big screens And bouncy castles just food. I use my local, homegrown merchants exclusively. Yes, it does sometimes take a few more trips and they don’t have 5 kinds of canned peas but your doing more than just buying food, your investing in the people who are a part of your community and teaching your kids that people matter to each other. Don’t get angry – get local.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Nikki, we do have a little grocery store that carries specialty food and drinks. However, I just buy “normal” food.

  14. I remember when Walmart first came to Tallahassee. They built directly across the street from Kmart. Those were the days when there were signs posted at the registers that if there were more than 3 people in line, another register would open up. Once they had the business and Kmart had to shut down, you never again saw that kind of customer service and the signs were taken down (and I could go on about how badly stocked they are). Now they want you to check your own self out. If you got a discount because you did the work and not an extra employee, maybe I’d go that route, but if I’m paying the same price, let them do the work they were hired to do.

    I live in north Georgia now and try to shop outlet grocery stores or Aldi if I can, but unfortunately, for big grocery shopping and other items, I usually go to Walmart because I can get most things cheaper there and it’s a one stop shopping trip for me. Walmart is the necessary evil.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Laurel, “My HEB” must have read your Tallahassee Walmart’s playbook!

    • Like I said, I only buy whatever grocery items in WalMart that are really on sale. I am in there quite often for other things. I think like anything else we all just need to become a lot more educated as to what is really “on sale.”

  15. All comments so very true, sad, funny, the makings for a new cozy mystery – all rolled up into one!!! Here in Ft. Worth, we still have choices – but finding so much of what you all are talking about! My common complaints usually deal with finding “their” brands, rather than mine …. or taking time to clip coupons on Sunday only to find that few, if any of the items are in the store aisles! My most recent “beef” is about a good size piece of pork ribs … now this isn’t the store’s problem directly, but it certainly speaks to quality involvement! It was one of the worst cuts/cross cuts, etc. of ribs that we’ve encountered – maybe ever! Also, after 4 hours in lower oven temps, it was still tough … all about the cut of the meat – not the store. My rant for the day! AND last word (okay, admit for here – not to my dear husband, “bless his heart” … never said that in Minnesota, but now saying it too often!): Quality, quantity, pricing, packaging, purchase power, “super stores” … I’m afraid all changing/have changed .. guess we have to get used to it! Thanks for listening to me, too. I loved all previous comments!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Jackie, I loved your aside about this being your last rant of the day, except to your husband. My husband would love it if I could say, as you wrote, “My rant for the day! AND last word” and mean it!

      • Talking about “Rants”!! Wait until your hubby retires and all he has to rant about is the commercials on TV all day long. Hopefully Danna, your DH won’t be that way. Mine does, though!
        He had a double hernia surgery last week, one in his belly button, one in the groin area. Combine that with the crappy TV commercials I will be very glad when he is a whole lot better. This has been a very long week.
        I told my DH that just in case he didn’t realize it when the TV shows come on an announcer says something like “This program is brought to you by so and so product” that isn’t exactly true. If we were to really think about this we just might realize that the commercials are being “brought to us by” the TV shows.!! Oh well, sometimes I leave my house cleaning until the commercials come on. With the commercials being so awful and so long I can almost get a whole room cleaned during those commercials!!

        • Danna - cozy mystery list :

          Linda, what terrible news about your husband. To have two different hernia surgeries at one time! I hope he is better today.

  16. We are lucky here in the buffalo, Ny area to have 3 good chains. I love aldis the best – their prices are very low, they don’t sell items if the item is not good that week (mostly on seasonal products), and they have never had a recall! (Their parent company also owns trader Joe’s) . We too have wegmans and also tops, and I am lucky that the tops I shop at is still a family -owned store so they have a lot of in -store specials. We also have a super walmart but I don’t grocery shop there, and a target superstore but its in a very busy area where I prefer not to go.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Marla, because HEB is a Texas-owned grocery store, they were able to “sit it out” when it came to keeping their prices low in order to knock the other stores out of town. (I remember the week Albertson’s closed up shop, the HEB prices LITERALLY went up.) You are lucky to have three solid grocery chains in town. I’m glad you mentioned Trader Joe’s. San Antonio just got one, but it is rather far to drive back from where it is located with anything that needs refrigeration. But, all of this talk about grocery stores makes me think I should take a drive down to see it.

      • Just a hint……….which most likely you have thought of.
        I keep a large styrofoam cooler in my trunk and throw in an ice pack or two when I go grocery shopping. It easily keeps groceries cool/frozen for an hour or more.

        I’ve been in Trader Joe’s a couple of times and like their selections. We don’t have one near us, so it’s rare that I get to one. It’s definitely worth a trip for you to go there to see what they have that might interest you. I have heard LOTS of compliments about their wines.

        About every month or two a couple of friends and I will drive 25-30 miles to a nearby community that has an Amish bulk foods store (actually owned by the community). Prices are very reasonable. They offer an amazing array of items (with many items you can’t find elsewhere). The bulk food items are offered in small quantities. And, as one would expect, they have a wonderful bakery. It’s always worth the trip.

        Danna, you might find that Trader Joe’s is ‘worth’ the occasional trip.

        • Danna - cozy mystery list :

          MJ, I think my husband and I are going to Trader Joe’s tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to walking through it. Your Amish food store sounds like a dream!

  17. We have super Wal-Mart here where I live and a local grocery store. We shop at both. The grocery for meat and other stuff. The Wal-Mart for household stuff. But Wal-Mart does not always have what we need so that is a trip 60 miles to another Wal-Mart for what we need. I will say this I buy books at Wal-Mart.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Ginger G, and I buy a lot of our puzzles at our Walmart. Great prices. I used to buy puzzles for my brother at Hobby Lobby, but I always had to wait until they were on sale. Not so with Walmart.

  18. Very interesting rant, Danna, one that many of us often have.

    In my community Kroger’s has built two new gigantic stores which includes a toy dept., kitchen store, furniture, and even a jewelry store!! When it was announced they were going to build this new store, I talked with management and asked them PLEASE to expand the food lines – I honestly don’t know anyone who is likely to buy a blender (etc.), sofa (etc.), or jewelry at their store. The produce, deli, and meat sections have been expanded in space, but not necessarily in amount of items. I have found many items I can no longer purchase there.

    I absolutely LOVE Land-O-Lakes cinnamon butter. In fact, I’ve given it to numerous people to try and thus created more consumers for this product. I always purchased this product at Kroger’s, but they no longer have it. I talked with the dairy manager and he said he has constant requests for it, but they can’t get it.

    Have any of you tried Rhodes individual frozen cinnamon rolls? They sell them in the gigantic size – 6 to a pkg., and the normal size – 12 to a pkg. These are to die for………..and, you can make/bake them one or two at a time. They are as close to homemade as you can find (without all the work!). They’re a great breakfast/brunch item when you have guests. There isn’t even anything close to it in bakery depts. Do they have this product at Kroger’s? Nope! In fact, I (and others) have talked with the frozen food manager and the store manager about this. They don’t carry ANY frozen cinnamon rolls – not Rhodes, not Sr. Schubert, not Pillsbury (even though they have a few other frozen items in these brands). The store manager said they won’t/can’t get these items. I guess Kroger’s doesn’t believe in the consumer eating these decadent rolls. OR, could they possibly not want the competition for their bakery dept.??

    Last week I was looking for Italian flat leaf parsley (a regular item in most stores). They only carry the curly parsley. Huh? I said to an employee, “this is an expanded store”! She just shrugged her shoulders. They only carry half the line of salad dressings that I like in their produce section. A produce employee told me they’ve cut back in many of their products. When looking for Lawry’s marinades, I found they don’t stock many of them (preferring to stock their own brand, which, in this particular product don’t taste nearly as good).

    I’ve asked the frozen food manager for the ‘flavor of the month’ of Turkey Hill (Kroger owned) ice cream. They can’t do this even in their new gigantic stores because the nearby warehouse doesn’t stock it. Go figure! The monthly ‘featured ice cream’ is only in warehouses on the East coast.

    Several of us like turkey thighs (because they are much meatier than wings/legs) – great for soups, grilling/roasting. Smoked turkey legs are also great in soups. We wanted Krogers to carry these products year round. A couple of their stores further away have these year round, but NOT the new ‘expanded’ stores. A month ago I was looking for rice noodles in the oriental dept. It’s another item they didn’t have (nor was it in the pasta dept). I think they believe if they carry ramen noodles they’ve got it covered! I could go on and on because there are several items that grocery stores normally have that Kroger’s has eliminated.

    On top of this, if you want a dairy product in this gigantic store, you have to walk to the farthest reaches of the store (back by the furniture dept) to get it. I mentioned this to the ass’t. manager. Her response was, ‘it’s the most complained about issue, but there isn’t anything they can do because the store layout is a corporate decision’. I have often called their consumer 800 number and even have written to the president in Cincinnati. The consumer employees are very nice – but NOTHING is ever done about a complaint. The president? he doesn’t bother to respond.

    In our town there is both Meijers and Walmart nearby. Although these are also ‘megastores’, I don’t mind them because the grocery section is set in one side area with its own door. Even though their grocery depts. are smaller in space than the new gigantic Kroger’s, both have flat leaf and curly parsley. Meijers has the full line of salad dressings and Lawry marinades I like. Both have the Rhodes yummy frozen individual cinnamon rolls, cinnamon butter, etc., etc.

    Like a previous person stated, Kroger’s prices are at least 25-50%+ higher than either Meijers or Walmart. I usually go to Krogers for their ‘ad specials’ (although Walmart price matches other ads – even Aldi’s, Save-A-Lot, etc.). Oftentimes, to save time (Krogers is a couple miles closer to me), I might want to get another item(s) while there and can’t find it. So this means I must go to another store.

    Danna, THANKS for allowing us to ‘rant’ on this common issue.

    To conclude and bring it ALL BACK TO BOOKS, I want to mention I have NO rant about our library system. IT IS EXCELLENT (which tops everything)!!

    And, now after ranting, I’m back to my current cozy……..it’s a good one!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      MJ, when we go to Colorado Springs to visit my mother, we use the King’s Sooper there. I often found Kroger items, which makes sense since they are the same store.

      You bring up a point that I have noticed many times at these mega grocery stores. I have never seen anyone even looking at television sets in “My HEB”. I mean, who would think to do that?

      I don’t bother asking for the stores to bring an item back, since I know it is a total waste of my time. Thanks for telling us about the Rhodes individual frozen cinnamon rolls. I will see if any of the stores out here carry them. My husband enjoys cinnamon rolls as a special treat, and it would be really nice if I didn’t have to make a bunch of them for the one or two he eats.

      I know that a lot of stores now use the “we can’t help you, even though we would like to, but corporate says we can’t” excuse. I am too cynical to buy that. I think they could help, but they don’t need to. It’s a lot less work to just say those things, than to actually try to do something for the customer.

      Thanks for bringing it “ALL BACK TO BOOKS” – I love it when library systems get special shout outs!

  19. Fortunately, HEB has not yet run all the others out of town in my neck of Texas (Houston/Pasadena). We still have Kroger, Food Town, Food City, Randall’s, Sellers Brothers. etc. in addition to Walmart/Target. My nearest HEB has recently remodeled and enlarged, but thankfully they do not yet have bouncy houses and TVs.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Linda P, there were some people from Houston who were stocking our aisles during the last “move-all-the-items-to-different-locations-in-the-store” who told me how nice the Houston HEBs are. I hope you all are able to keep your other chains!

  20. Fortunate to have a local Safeway that is for food; WinCo for food (employee owned) where we bag our groceries ourselves – prices going up as everywhere else; FredMeyer has it all but separated – groceries from household,clothes,etc.; Trader Joe’s and LifeSource; then Walmarts (two sizes), Costco. All this within 10 mins. drive around Salem, OR from home. Plus, a Saturday market year-round (for some items) summer for great farm products. Thanks for the rant so I could see we are so lucky.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Dee, it’s always nice to realize how lucky we are. Our traffic has gotten so bad here that it takes me ten minutes just to get out of our subdivision. But that’s another rant!

  21. Danna, I know just where you’re coming from! Tho’ not in relation to HEB. We have plenty of grocery choices in Tallahassee now. Because I’m retired I do my major shopping at WalMart [as someone said, a "necessary evil"]. If I were “comfortable” I’d shop at my local co-op organic foods store. Too pricey for me but the people are great and it’s LOCALLY owned. I shop there when I can. I hope it doesn’t get “eaten” by two large chains: WholeFoods is moving in and there’s already a big “whole foods” type store across town.

    We now have FIVE WalMarts in a 20-mile radius. I usually shop at the smallest one for food, because I really don’t want to cross 3 football fields worth of merchandise just to get my dairy products. If I weren’t lactose-intolerant I’d buy my “quick necessities” at WalGreens just up the street – it’s the size groceries used to be!

    We also have a lovely chain in FL called Publix, and the service and the people there are great also. They carry brands I loved in California, like Peet’s Coffee and Ghirardelli Chocolate. If you’re standing in the aisle looking puzzled, or searching, often a store employee will come and ask if they can help you find something! They also run great specials – I can stock up on my coffee, cheddar cheese, and other items regularly because it goes on sale in periodic rotation with other items. But Publix has gone with the trend and increased the square footage of their new stores tremendously. It is a bit wearisome to trudge all over a store, so I stick to the one whose layout I know well.

    I recently discovered a Trader Joes in Gainesville and hear they may be coming to Tallahassee. If they do my shopping life will be complete ; )

    I have noticed a terrible trend [aside from HUGE STORES] in the last two decades. Where once you could complain to management and get some satisfaction, now managers are disempowered. This applies not only in groceries and other stores, it applies to phone companies, hotels, airlines and more, ad nauseum – “I’m sorry, I understand your complaint [it seems valid], but [there's nothing I can do for you] our policy is thus-and-so, Corporate says we have to do it this way [translated: we don't serve the customer, we serve corporate profits and shareholders above all].”

    I never thought I’d say I miss the eighties, but back then businesses wanted to keep customers, and keep them happy ….

    If I were comfortably off, I’d vote with my feet, believe me!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Marja, when I hear that sorry excuse about not being able to help because corporate tells them they can’t, I translate it to “I’m lazy and don’t want to deal with you.”

  22. Rant on!!!!!!!!

    This is what the big chain drug stores did, to the little corner drug store too!!!!! But our family corner drug store (begun at time of the Civil War) has out-smarted them, and is still in business.

    Because my husband, and now one of our sons, have been smarter than necessary.

    I love it, when the Little Guys win.

    HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY…!!!

    “Auntie”

    • Auntie, glad you brought up drug stores, too. With one chain taking over another and then another, we are down to two chains in our area (Walgreens and CVS). Since their prices are too high, we have to go to Target. It is a matter of choosing the lesser evil. By the way, if congress doesn’t pass a Farm Bill soon, food prices are going to go up significantly. The farmers don’t like it, because they have to buy food, too!

      • Danna - cozy mystery list :

        Laura, those are our two drug stores down here, also. We are lucky to have an insurance company that has a long-distance pharmacy, which ends up costing us less.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Auntie, I hope you had a great St. Patrick’s Day, too!

  23. I’m lucky I shop at one of those chain store type places but my store is so small it only has 6 registers. The people are great and I don’t worry if my mom (86 yrs old) drives the half mile to shop by herself. Its called Marsh but it is owned now by a big southern conglomerate. Thank goodness they haven’t messed it up. My second favorite store is a small family run oriental food store with one register and a Korean diner with 3 seats. I’ve watch the kids grow up and go to college. My third favorite store is in Chicago a 4 hour drive. I take mom once every couple of months and it is huge. It’s called Mitsuwa. It has everything but it is in kiosk style. Tea and coffee are in the same aisle! Plenty of English speaking help available. They even provide ICE to pack your fresh fish and meat for the drive home. Sorry you’re so far away from Indy or I’d show you around.

  24. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. Just wanted to let you know that there is a special at Amazon. You can get Leslie Meier’s “St. Patrick’s Day Murder” for $1.99 for today.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Diane, thank you for telling us about that Leslie Meier’s St. Patrick Day Murder being on sale for only $1.99. I added it to my St. Patrick’s Day greeting yesterday. For some reason, I had totally misplaced this holiday until my brother called me.

  25. We have 4 Walmart mega-stores, a chain of Harp’s, and an Aldi’s. I’ve gotten used to the walking from end to end, and roaming down the aisles because that’s how it is in the city. That doesn’t keep me from remembering those childhood days when all I had to do was to run across the street to the real neighborhood market. There, we found everything from fresh meat and vegetables to matches, and a smiling owner or family member to check you out. Oh, for the good old days.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Becky, my husband and I drove down to San Antonio’s new Trader Joe’s, and it reminded me of the small neighborhood market you described.

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