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“Shopping is so ritualised that we walk around like zombies,”
April 10, 2013 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Sian Jarvis, the supermarket’s head of corporate affairs, had undermined her claims to care about the health of her customers and let slip one of the secrets of a multi-billion-pound industry ... she revealed that one in three Asda checkouts “are what we call guilt-free checkouts”. Jarvis insisted “guilt-free” was merely “a term that’s commonly used in retail”. But it was too late, and her “guilt” gaffe quickly invited scorn in the industry and among public health professionals. Whatever the damage, she had already opened a door to the arcane science of supermarket psychology. To the designers of the modern store, shoppers are lab rats with trolleys, guided through a maze of aisles by the promise of rewards they never knew they sought The Secrets Of Our Supermarkets

Weaponized Architechture: Architechture for Profits Optimization
The Geography Of The Supermarket
These obvious gimmicks have paid for themselves over and over again; they’re obvious, yes, but they work. One avoidance strategy, of course, apart from sticking to the outer walls, is to leave the youngsters at home while you shop. Most toddlers are too young to have formed strong brand attachments and will eat just about anything that is put before them, so long as it tastes good. That gives the shopper room to roam down along the lower shelves, where the less expensive generic products can be found, as well as the healthier items on the menu.
6 Ways Google Hacks Its Cafeterias To Make Employees Eat Healthier
Behind the Scenes at Google's Cafeteria - "At Google's cafeteria, junk food is out of sight, and pizza is (almost) out of reach."
Of course, Facebook Won't Be Outdone
posted by the man of twists and turns (238 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Shop The Peripheries Of The Supermarket, And Stay Out Of The Middle"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Eponysterical!
posted by salishsea at 2:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's getting to the point where there is almost no unconsidered element of a supermarket. It's funny how many people think they're wise to it, as well (same as almost everybody thinks they're immune to advertising).

We know not to go in hungry, and we avoid the smells of the bakery and we try to ignore the end caps, and yet we still come out with stuff we didn't go in for, victim of a hundred and one other far-more-subtle things we're blithely unaware of.
posted by bonaldi at 2:58 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Previously
posted by Strass at 2:59 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


All my supermarket check-outs are "guilt-free", because feeling guilty about food is not helpful. Some days I think "hey, it was entirely nutritionally appropriate to buy what I bought, including that chocolate bar" and some days I think "how can I plan my shopping and cooking better", but I don't spend a lot of time feeling "guilty" over how I interact with dodgy capitalists.
posted by Frowner at 3:00 PM on April 10, 2013 [45 favorites]


victim of a hundred and one other far-more-subtle things we're blithely unaware of.

All but universal remedy: Write a list of what you need. Write it before you go. Do not purchase anything not on the list.
posted by jaduncan at 3:00 PM on April 10, 2013 [35 favorites]


"Special offer - personality, guaranteed!"
posted by koeselitz at 3:00 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


“They’re there to make money and the best way to do that is with products that are bought as a reward for the task you’ve just completed.” If we were rats, the end of the shoppers’ maze would be piled with squares of cheese rather than chocolate bars.

I would actually have a harder time controlling impulse buys if checkout stands were piled with squares of cheese...
posted by Avelwood at 3:02 PM on April 10, 2013 [38 favorites]


That Google article was interesting but disappointingly thin. Still, if Google was as benign and non-threatening to everyone as it might be to some of its employees, I'd be less inclined to advocate for its death in a fire. (The company, not the employees.)
posted by spacewrench at 3:03 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it the store that's guilty, or the customer. I'm honestly having some trouble understanding since the article is cagey about what it's getting at.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:03 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


And consider something like a Target. The traffic pattern universally has you walk through women's clothing, then men's clothing, then electronics on one side/toys on the other, then shelf stable foods, then perishable foods, then bathroom/cleaning supplies, then the pharmacy. It may as well be Adventure Island's lazy river for how hard it is to go against the flow. The only thing I don't get is why home goods are in the (seldom visited except on purpose) center.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:03 PM on April 10, 2013


I don't buy more then I can carry, seems to cut down on impulse buys.
posted by The Whelk at 3:05 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


I used to really worry about all the food I buy until I realized somehow it all disappears by the weekend.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:07 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you ever spent some time checking out the mannequins in a department store, realize now they're checking you out too. Its not just a security feature. They watch how long you look at the display, what your mood is, and what racks you are looking at. They are using this to understand what will drive that additional dollar out of your pocket.

All those apps on your phone that are free yet require you to check in for rewards? They're sending you coupons while you are in the store? Target may know your best friend is pregnant before she tells you. Welcome to big data folks.

I turned to a coworker on Monday and said to him that If I could just find a corporation, that would give me housing, a car, replace my clothes periodically, feed me, and send me on a random vacation every few years but the catch was I gave them 98% of my income - regardless of what it was - I would take that in a heartbeat. At least the deal would be straightforward and in my face and I wouldn't need to pay attention to how they were trying to rip me off. I then went back to figuring out how to best extract additional sales out of a given DMA.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:07 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


The traffic pattern universally has you walk through women's clothing...

That's completely different from my Target. In fact, I'm convinced each and every store is laid out in a different fashion to keep you from getting too familiar with a store and getting out quickly.
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:08 PM on April 10, 2013 [21 favorites]


I don't buy more then I can carry, seems to cut down on impulse buys.

Not after you follow Starting Strength!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:09 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


My favorite are the rotisserie chickens next to the express checkout, on an actual rotisserie. What exactly has happened to us as a culture that there are people who will impulse-buy an entire hot chicken for immediate consumption?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:11 PM on April 10, 2013 [24 favorites]


The traffic pattern universally has you walk through women's clothing, then men's clothing, then electronics on one side/toys on the other, then shelf stable foods, then perishable foods, then bathroom/cleaning supplies, then the pharmacy.

I don't understan this traffic pattern. I know what I want, go get and walk out. The most you're gonna tempt me with is fruity flavors of gum, iTunes cards and Tex Mex nut mixes.

Ok, ok, maybe another remote controlled helicopter, but that's it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:11 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


*benches a man sized block of gouda*
posted by The Whelk at 3:11 PM on April 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


For all its hype, big data still can't recommend me a decent film on Netflix, or a book on Amazon. As someone here mentioned: buying a blender on Amazon means Amazon recommends you ten more blenders.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:11 PM on April 10, 2013 [59 favorites]


And consider something like a Target. The traffic pattern universally has you walk through women's clothing, then men's clothing, then electronics on one side/toys on the other, then shelf stable foods, then perishable foods, then bathroom/cleaning supplies, then the pharmacy. It may as well be Adventure Island's lazy river for how hard it is to go against the flow. The only thing I don't get is why home goods are in the (seldom visited except on purpose) center.

My hypothesis is that toys, electronics, and video games - the big draws for families with children - seem to be farthest from the entrance, thus forcing you to either go along that lazy river of everything else to get there, or walk through the middle and the warren of hard-to-navigate aisles.

It was reinforced the other day when I went in a Target that had the electronics and toys right next to the entrance - I actually stopped, mildy dumbfounded. It didn't make sense.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:12 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


And consider something like a Target. The traffic pattern universally has you walk through women's clothing, then men's clothing....it is [hard] to go against the flow.

It's actually not that hard to go against the flow at Target, but I am a horribly inefficient shopper. Ikea, on the other hand...
posted by cosmic.osmo at 3:12 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


My favorite are the rotisserie chickens next to the express checkout, on an actual rotisserie. What exactly has happened to us as a culture that there are people who will impulse-buy an entire hot chicken for immediate consumption

YOu need to do something while waiting at the traffic light.

Or a lot of people are coming in just for the rotisserie chicken and a side and putting them. Together just speeds everything up.
posted by The Whelk at 3:13 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ok, ok, maybe another remote controlled helicopter, but that's it.

They were BOGO! They were BOGO!
posted by jquinby at 3:13 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is it the store that's guilty, or the customer.

I've heard guilt-free checkouts used before in the context of those where all the candy has been removed so your kids can't try to guilt you into buying them stuff. I actually agree with her it's a common term. I don't do anything in the retail industry and I've heard of it.
posted by IanMorr at 3:13 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Getting through Ikea isn't hard, as long as you have a walkthrough to guide you.
posted by ckape at 3:14 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not just the arrangement of the shelves, by they way. The packaging is also guilty:

"The design of a package is incredibly important. I tell them to duck walk down the cereal aisle at a supermarket," says Stilgoe. "And they'll realize that the eyeballs of the figures on the cereal boxes are looking down to the place where a toddler meets the eye, if the toddler's in that little seat in a grocery carriage." (original)
posted by jquinby at 3:15 PM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


The back corner - behind the racks of expiring produce - of the Loblaws I shop at is filled with the saddest-looking collection of greeting cards and birthday balloons you will never see. I find it hard to believe that they justify their existence, profit-wise, unless they are meant to repel customers away from fruits and vegetables.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:16 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The design of a package is incredibly important.

This thread already knows that, though.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:19 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am not certain what effect my local Walmart is going for when it smells like super stinky french cheese but doesn't sell any.
posted by srboisvert at 3:20 PM on April 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


Loblaws also used to sell cheapo DVDs in the "guilt" section...meaning there must have been people who came in for food and decided they wanted two David Carradine movies for the price of one to watch while they ate.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:21 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Target may know your best friend is pregnant before she tells you.

My local grocery store apparantly thinks my husband is pregnant - he always gets coupons for diapers and formula (no, he doesn't buy lotion or cotton balls). Needless to say I'm pretty suspicious of the narrative that we're supposed to take away from the Target story - how many women get circulars and coupons for diapers/cribs and aren't pregnant? I can't be the only one. I think the particular father in that story was over-protective, not that Target is preternaturally successful at determining buyer behavior based on purchasing statistics.

TL;DR I don't usually impulse shop, I don't feel guilty when I do impulse shop, and my husband isn't pregnant no matter what coupons Target sends him.

Loblaws also used to sell cheapo DVDs in the "guilt" section...meaning there must have been people who came in for food and decided they wanted two David Carradine movies for the price of one to watch while they ate.

Near the front of my grocery store there is a large bin of DVDs that are in paper envelopes instead of cases. It's marketed as a kind of treasure hunt - sure, most of the DVDs are poorly-transfered Anaconda 2, but maybe something half-way decent is in there! I have never seen anyone digging through the bin.
posted by muddgirl at 3:24 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite are the rotisserie chickens next to the express checkout, on an actual rotisserie. What exactly has happened to us as a culture that there are people who will impulse-buy an entire hot chicken for immediate consumption?

I see it as a "Yeah, you just got a bunch of ingredients, but you don't really feel like cooking tonight, do you?" temptation.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:26 PM on April 10, 2013 [38 favorites]


Pretty sure that Canada is still a safe place to shop - like much of the rest of our infrastructure, retailers have not invested one hell of lot in optimizing the process, or even making shopping enjoyable.

There's no selection, no service, no quality, and high prices in dingy barns that are just waiting to go under.

My wife, who is from Japan (where I have lived on and off for the past 19 years) often remarks that shopping in Canada must be like shopping in some Soviet republic before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:26 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


What exactly has happened to us as a culture that there are people who will impulse-buy an entire hot chicken for immediate consumption?

The rotisserie chickens are often cheaper, taste good, and are a quick way to feed a family when there has been no time to shop or cook.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:28 PM on April 10, 2013 [41 favorites]


Those rotisserie chickens are pretty good by the way. And honest too. I mean you could make a better whole chicken cheaper, but not much better, and not much cheaper.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:28 PM on April 10, 2013 [20 favorites]


(or what KokuRyu said)
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:29 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


GODDAMNIT PEOPLE. It's 23:31 here and now I've got a massive craving for rotisserie chicken.

Bastards the lot of you.
posted by garius at 3:31 PM on April 10, 2013 [36 favorites]


Yes, it is almost as if people can benefit from specialization and trade rather than doing everything themselves.
posted by Pyry at 3:32 PM on April 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


What exactly has happened to us as a culture that there are people who will impulse-buy an entire hot chicken for immediate consumption?

We buy them to avoid spending two hours cooking, then turn the rest into chicken salad or soup for later meals. Not bad for under $10.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:35 PM on April 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


shopping in Canada must be like shopping in some Soviet republic before the fall of the Berlin Wall

If you do all of your shopping in rural Newfoundland, maybe. Shopping in the GTA is pretty much like shopping in the U.S., but with higher prices.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:38 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


IS THE SYSTEM GAMING YOU?
GAME THE SYSTEM RIGHT BACK!
-------in seven simple steps----------
  • Move whole grain cereals to the dairy aisle so that people buying milk will find a healthy choice within arm's reach!
  • Dried fruit is a wonderful, low-calorie snack; slip tangerines behind all the greeting cards for a sweet surprise!
  • Shop like a mouse! Stick to the outside perimeter of the store and only buy things that have fallen underneath display cases and shelves!
  • Clean up on aisle 7! Customers are 30% less likely to buy an item that you have doused in Canola oil!
  • Replace the contents of candy packages with Brillo pads!
  • Eat local! Steal groceries from your neighbors' cars while they're unloading them!
  • Don't forget your bonus card! The average bonus card contains over three grams of protein!

  • posted by The White Hat at 3:38 PM on April 10, 2013 [76 favorites]


    The economics of rotisserie chicken is mind boggling to me. Near me Half a rotisserie chicken is $4.50. Whole chicken are $2.25 a pound.

    I would be a fool to cook a chicken.
    posted by Ad hominem at 3:41 PM on April 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


    "The design of a package is incredibly important. I tell them to duck walk down the cereal aisle at a supermarket," says Stilgoe. "And they'll realize that the eyeballs of the figures on the cereal boxes are looking down to the place where a toddler meets the eye, if the toddler's in that little seat in a grocery carriage."

    It's been a long time since I had to take an art class, but I seem to recall that a two-dimensional drawing of eyes will only ever appear to be looking at you if the eyes are looking straight off the surface, and then they will always be looking at you. So Stilgoe isn't wrong -- the eyeballs are looking at the toddler, but they're also always looking up at the parents.
    posted by Etrigan at 3:42 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


    Half a rotisserie chicken is salt.
    posted by The Card Cheat at 3:43 PM on April 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


    As a cost saving measure, Night Vale superMart will be taking 20% off everything. everything.

    Yes. Everything. All concepts, entities, and forces will be reduced by 20%.
    posted by The Whelk at 3:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


    I typically choose the hand baskets over the push carts and the first thing I typically choose is milk. Now my basket becomes heavy and I have a nice incentive to get my other essentials and leave asap.
    posted by asra at 3:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    It was reinforced the other day when I went in a Target that had the electronics and toys right next to the entrance - I actually stopped, mildy dumbfounded. It didn't make sense.

    The SuperTarget in Roseville, Minnesota--built on the site of the first Target store, ever, back in the early 1960s--has this layout, so it may have something going for it.

    There is a finite set of Target store layouts, and they do definitely repeat. I had the experience several years ago of walking into a Target in Texas that had exactly, inch for inch, the same layout as the one in my Minneapolis neighborhood at the time. It was intensely spooky, like I had fallen through some kind of spacetime wormhole that only led to Targets.

    I know too much about Targets.
    posted by gimonca at 3:50 PM on April 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


    I aspiration-shop in the hollow shell of Maple Leaf Gardens and I fucking love it. It doesn't hurt that my other option is No Frills, which is much cheaper but I feel like a hollow shell after walking out of there. And their apples are terrible. Fascinating to watch one company divide and conquer the grocery space. Although I mostly buy the same things over and over again the psychology of the grocery store intrigues me so much more than the horny teenager scents piped into A&F or whatever.
    posted by yellowbinder at 3:52 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    There is a finite set of Target store layouts, and they do definitely repeat. I had the experience several years ago of walking into a Target in Texas that had exactly, inch for inch, the same layout as the one in my Minneapolis neighborhood at the time. It was intensely spooky, like I had fallen through some kind of spacetime wormhole that only led to Targets.

    I have had a similar experience recently after moving to a new city about 35 miles away from my old one. Most of the same chains have stores here, but they're all different to one degree or another. It's been very surreal running all the same errands, just in *other places.*
    posted by Celsius1414 at 3:52 PM on April 10, 2013


    By the way, the woman who said this works for Asda, which is Walmart by another name. It might not be relevant, but I'm sure lots of folk outside the UK wouldn't know.
    posted by Jehan at 3:53 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


    like I had fallen through some kind of spacetime wormhole that only led to Targets.

    The Dr. Who crew has this in their back pocket in case the Tories privatize the BBC.
    posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:53 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


    Speaking of piped scents, does anybody know anything about the aroma piped into seemingly every Bed, Bath, & Beyond? I've speculated that it's what Beyond smells like.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 3:53 PM on April 10, 2013 [20 favorites]


    Those damn chickens almost get me everytime I go to the store. Sometimes Ill buy them to make'em feel better... And to avoid cooking.
    posted by Sweetmag at 3:53 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    Publix rotisserie chicken makes a fantastic chicken salad the next day, if, in the unlikely event, there's any meat left on the carcass. We like the lemon-pepper variety for this.
    posted by jquinby at 3:58 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I like how Rotisserie chicken has been busy quasi city dweller food since the dawn of recorded history.

    I find you have to grab them early in the day, wandering in for Chicken dinner at 11pm will get you something very papy and tasteless.

    But then again it's three dollars for a WHOLE COOKED CHICKEN that you're going to eat the wings and legs of in front of the computer, washed down with the cheapest beer you can find and then hey you can make stock. If you save the chicken bones in the same convenient plastic clamshell.
    posted by The Whelk at 4:02 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


    From the first link:

    "...Sometimes less can be more. Danone, the yoghurt people, were told by consultants to cut their range by 40 per cent. They agreed. Only 15 per cent of shoppers noticed, and sales increased 20 per cent."

    I wish this was the case, but it seems to be going the other way in Canada. More varieties all the time, all stocked in equal proportion - which ends up meaning the plain old variety I want is always in short supply.
    posted by Kevin Street at 4:03 PM on April 10, 2013


    There is a finite set of Target store layouts, and they do definitely repeat. I had the experience several years ago of walking into a Target in Texas that had exactly, inch for inch, the same layout as the one in my Minneapolis neighborhood at the time. It was intensely spooky, like I had fallen through some kind of spacetime wormhole that only led to Targets.

    The layout may be dependent on store size. Like many large retailers, Target has a number of "prototype" floor plans that come in a variety of square footages, but will generally share some common elements; and they have a couple 3-ring binders worth of specifications for things that need to go in their stores if you want to build one.
    posted by LionIndex at 4:11 PM on April 10, 2013


    Just got back from the store and I think I figured out the rotisserie chicken thing. They remove the nuggets and fingers and sell those separately.
    posted by Ad hominem at 4:14 PM on April 10, 2013 [14 favorites]


    I really wish people would stop insisting that you "shop the edges." That's great, unless you need - oh, say - things like cat litter, laundry detergent, toilet paper, tampons... you know, all the stuff people buy at grocery stores.

    My impression of people who say you should "shop the edges" is that they do not actually do the grocery shopping very often.
    posted by ErikaB at 4:17 PM on April 10, 2013 [46 favorites]


    As for rotisserie chickens, they are close to the check-out because you don't want them to cool off. You want to do all your shopping, then get the chicken at the very last. They cool quickly, and you still want them piping hot by the time you get them home.

    (And once you strip the meat off, you can make a pretty good chicken stock/broth out of the carcass, thus maximizing your purchase.)
    posted by ErikaB at 4:18 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


    ErikaB: shopping edges is the prime directive for entering a grocery store and coming out with healthy and fresh food. Going down the aisles for food is a prescription for sodium overdosing.

    Of course they aren't referring to cat litter and lawn chairs and tape recorders and dustpans.
    posted by salishsea at 4:21 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


    Costco sells rotisserie chicken for $4.99. That is cheaper than an uncooked chicken at my local store.
    posted by bq at 4:21 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


    It was reinforced the other day when I went in a Target that had the electronics and toys right next to the entrance - I actually stopped, mildy dumbfounded. It didn't make sense.

    That wasn't really a Target. I'm guessing if you went back, there would be nothing there but an empty parking lot and the faint smell of sulfur.
    posted by billyfleetwood at 4:28 PM on April 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


    GODDAMNIT PEOPLE. It's 23:31 here and now I've got a massive craving for rotisserie chicken.

    My "local" Walmart is open 'til midnight seven days a week. In an area where the sidewalks are pretty much rolled up at 9pm.
    posted by telstar at 4:29 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    You can use the rotisserie chicken clam shell as a terrarium for starting seeds indoors, too.

    The whole foods near me remodeled recently into a totally confusing layout where the after checking our you have to go through the maze between produce (which is in a weird nook/peninsula) and the prepared foods. I could stuff extra pineapples in my bag on the way out! I assume it's laid out to maximize hot bar exposure.
    posted by vespabelle at 4:34 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I was at Target just this morning and they had a display of bananas at the checkout impulse purchase spot. And I totally did impulse-purchase bananas because seeing the display reminded me I was low on fresh fruit. And I felt good about Target for having fresh fruit as an impulse purchase instead of just candy and bad movies. I am sure they are split-testing the crap out of it and it's supposed to head-shrink me into buying more stuff at Target and liking it while I do (it did both!) but I sort-of hope that the fact that I bought the bananas AND am talking about it on the internet will tell their little data bots that fresh fruit at checkout is good!

    But anyway it was so unusual to see fresh fruit in the checkout display that it immediately caught my attention and here I am, telling people about it. They weren't super-great bananas, but a banana is a banana.

    I'm another rotisserie chicken buyer. They're good and they're cheap, and when you go grocery shopping after work and have to go right home and feed the kids dinner, they're a pretty good choice. I'll grab that and a bagged salad and that's a reasonable dinner with two minutes of prep that I can serve as soon as I get home. It's rough if you get off work at five, have to grocery shop, prepare and eat dinner for four, and get the kids in bed by seven. (Although I'm not sure I've ever grabbed one at the checkout lanes ... I just go to the deli section last and grab one at the deli.)
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:37 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


    The customers are "weaponized", too. Last time I bought a PC I walked around with phone in hand, comparing power supply and PCI specs for each model, searching for Linux compatibility, etc.

    That goes for almost any electronic product I browse in a store. The first thing I do is look at Amazon reviews. If they average four stars or more, I go deeper, otherwise I walk.

    I'd rather relate to the salespeople as humans, but they have a script and I have a script. It makes retail shopping much more boring but unfortunately it usually works better.
    posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:40 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


    You can use the rotisserie chicken clam shell as a terrarium

    Mmmm...clams.
    posted by goethean at 4:41 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I wasn't asking why people would buy rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. I'm just confused as to why they're in the impulse-buy section with issues of US Weekly and spearmint gum.
    posted by shakespeherian at 4:41 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I'm just confused as to why they're in the impulse-buy section with issues of US Weekly and spearmint gum.

    "I'll just run in to pick up something for dinner. Oh hey, there's a seemingly vaguely healthier option than frozen pizza!"
    posted by Celsius1414 at 4:45 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    We buy them to avoid spending two hours cooking, then turn the rest into chicken salad or soup for later meals. Not bad for under $10.

    Pshaw. Five minutes to rub the chicken all over with salt and spices, and then 45 minutes in a hot oven. Ten minutes to rest before carving.

    Of course a roaster costs more than a rotisserie chicken, but that's because they weren't soaked in brine before roasting in order to increase the weight, boost the flavor and crisp the skin. They're full of water, salt, and grease so they won't dry out on the heated shelves.
    posted by oneirodynia at 4:46 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


    Mmm... brine.
    posted by yellowbinder at 4:50 PM on April 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


    My local supermarket is having a bizarre fire sale all this week - it's preparing to close down for renovation, and is unloading pretty much everything. As they sell stuff off, they close down aisles and consolidate everything, and people have been coming in droves because they've also marked everything down to 50% off.

    And it's been fascinating. There is stuff my supermarket carried that I just plain didn't know they did, because I simply never go to those aisles of the store. It's only now that everything's all crammed together into two aisles that suddenly I'm discovering "they carry Himalayan sea salt? And Barry's Irish Breakfast tea? And flavored syrups for coffee? And whole millet? Since when?" And everyone who goes in is in that similar kind of wide-eyed "I never knew they had this stuff" daze.

    I just went tonight for rice and came out with five cans of organic cherrystone clams and marzipan. I have no idea what I'm going to do with marzipan, but I was just so fascinated that they had it. And if it hadn't been suddenly in the aisle where I usually get the rice, I never would have known.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:58 PM on April 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


    Hm. My famously alternative, locavore-friendly, locally-owned supermarket chain is a textbook example of this. Bread and dairy are at the very opposite corner of the the store from the main entrance. Nearest the entrance are flowers, cakes, pastries, deli, grab 'n' go. Everything in between is a blindingly obvious gradient between unglamorous necessity and pleasant, pricy reward. And yet I never quite noticed.

    By contrast, the nearest branch of the evil Whole Foods places the produce and bulk nearest the entrance and the deli and grab 'n' go stuff is among the furthest away. Milk, eggs and cheese are still at the geographically most distant point, but still, surprise, surprise.
    posted by George_Spiggott at 4:59 PM on April 10, 2013


    I think we've all learned something here, and it's that Metafilter loves them some rotisserie chicken.

    I can also tell you that sugary cereal mascots staring at you doesn't seem to work on my kid. I don't think he knows what that stuff is. Probably because no cable means no barrage of cereal commercials.
    posted by emjaybee at 5:01 PM on April 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


    We do veg and meats at the farmers market and necessities (tp, papper towels, litter, etc.) at the local NW chain. We're lucky though, we live in portland with year round farmers markets with farms to supply them.
    posted by herda05 at 5:03 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    DELICIOUS BRINE
    posted by Avenger at 5:04 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I mean you're trying to shame the nation that brought you pink slime into not eating Salt Chicken Product. You will fail.
    posted by Avenger at 5:05 PM on April 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


    Salt Chicken Product is my favorite option on the RepliReelFud spout.
    posted by The Whelk at 5:08 PM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


    Someone needs to seriously remodel my local Meijer. The grocery side is a disaster of conflicting traffic patterns, owing to the place being a big-box with multiple entrances and multiple aisles dumping right into the grocery side. Shopping there is a horror of people and carts wandering all different directions..
    posted by Thorzdad at 5:09 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Five minutes to rub the chicken all over with salt and spices, and then 45 minutes in a hot oven. Ten minutes to rest before carving.

    .... and I pick up my son from after-school care at 5:20, then we have to stop at the supermarket because we had to drive all over hell and back over Easter weekend and there was no way to get the shopping done on Sunday as we usually do. So I buy toilet paper, and milk, and some eggs, and realize that if I buy the chicken and some frozen veggies we can have dinner right when we get home instead of waiting an hour, by which time he's eating his dinner when it's supposed to be bedtime.

    So we'll have chicken and veggies for dinner tonight, and tomorrow I'll have chicken for lunch, and tomorrow night I'll put some on the pizza (with the dough I make myself, thank you very much), and then I'll make stock from the bones.

    The difference between dinner at 6:15 and dinner at 7:20 is a long damn time.
    posted by anastasiav at 5:10 PM on April 10, 2013 [71 favorites]


    These comments kinda remind me of the ones in the Penney's thread.
    posted by box at 5:13 PM on April 10, 2013


    KokoRyu - where are you shopping, exactly? Labrador? Here in Lotus Land, we've got Whole Foods and Choices and Safeways that are trying to emulate Whole Foods and goddamn Choices because of the sweet markup you can put on the same pesto that I get for 1/3 the price from Ugo and Joe's (a privately-owned Italian food importers). They all subscribe to the same psychological warfare that all the other stores do.

    The people at Ugo's just say "Hi" and ask me how I'm doing and give me samples, so I give them more money. Simple, but effective.
    posted by Zack_Replica at 5:13 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    The rotisserie chicken at my local grocery store (in Montreal, QC) costs $12.64. Not quite the same as in the states...
    posted by Strass at 5:23 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    There is a finite set of Target store layouts, and they do definitely repeat. I had the experience several years ago of walking into a Target in Texas that had exactly, inch for inch, the same layout as the one in my Minneapolis neighborhood at the time. It was intensely spooky, like I had fallen through some kind of spacetime wormhole that only led to Targets.

    The opposite happens to me. I'll be in a different Superstore, and it's all the same stuff, all the same signs, all the same aisles, but all moved just subtly.

    I feel like someone went back in time and stepped on a butterfly in the late Triassic.
    posted by Trochanter at 5:28 PM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


    I'm fine with brine or pink slime. The stuff I don't like is the chicken fingers "with rib meat" it just tastes odd to me.
    posted by Ad hominem at 5:29 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I want to say it's easier for me to avoid temptation because with a vegan diet, I have to read the label on anything that I might want to get as an impulse buy. And that holds true for most big-name supermarkets.

    But get me in a Trader Joe's or a Whole Foods--especially when I don't get to go to them regularly--and you're damn right I'm walking out of there with shit I don't need but want.

    I find the psychology of supermarkets fascinating.
    posted by Kitteh at 5:34 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I'm so creeped out by the number of times I've forgotten which retail vault I was in and started navigating the ShopKo as if it were the Target.
    posted by EatTheWeak at 5:39 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


    I'm mostly surprised that literally anything in that "Secrets of our supermarkets" article comes as a surprise to anyone. I thought all that, including the 'guilt-free' lanes, was all so well-known as to be cliche. (And in fact it seems like some of the descriptions are of tricks that have been so overused that they don't work anymore, such as in #5, where tucking the milk and bread at opposite back corners of the store now "engenders bad feelings" instead of increasing impulse buys.)
    posted by ook at 5:40 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


    meaning there must have been people who came in for food and decided they wanted two David Carradine movies for the price of one to watch while they ate.

    That's how I ended up buying the first season of The Lexx.
    posted by drezdn at 5:40 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


    oneirodynia: "Pshaw. Five minutes to rub the chicken all over with salt and spices, and then 45 minutes in a hot oven. Ten minutes to rest before carving. "

    I'm pretty sure you didn't intend this to come off as dismissive, because that wouldn't square with what I know about you from your other comments.

    But this did come off kind of dismissive, at least to me. Did you mean it to be?
    posted by scrump at 5:41 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


    KokoRyu - where are you shopping, exactly? Labrador? Here in Lotus Land, we've got Whole Foods and Choices and Safeways that are trying to emulate Whole Foods and goddamn Choices because of the sweet markup you can put on the same pesto that I get for 1/3 the price from Ugo and Joe's (a privately-owned Italian food importers). They all subscribe to the same psychological warfare that all the other stores do.

    Vancouver Island. Grocery stores are about the same as Van, but no Whole Foods. I was thinking more about retail. Shopping for clothes or furniture is bad on the Island, and I guess Vancouver has some better options, but compared to the States or Japan, Vancouver is still a benighted backwater with very little selection, poor quality, and high prices.
    posted by KokuRyu at 5:43 PM on April 10, 2013


    Vancouver Island.

    Echoes of maxwelton worldwide's HQ on another Salish Sea island, just across the international border. If Vancouver Island has entire "cities" whose retailers sell nothing but fudge, coffee, used books and candles, you'd feel right at home.
    posted by maxwelton at 5:48 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I wonder what's changed. My local Stop and Shop recently removed bread from the periphery and placed it square in the middle of the store. Baked goods and in-store baked bread can still be found in one corner of the store, but the adjoining wall of prepackaged white/wheat bread and bagels that previously existed next to the orange juice and yogurt case has been replaced by ice cream and frozen treats.
    posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:49 PM on April 10, 2013


    Compared to ONTARIO, Vancouver is still a benighted backwater. I was shocked at the food prices when I moved here in 1994 and nothing has changed. And the lack of local food has always been dispritiing to me. It's better on vancouver Island, but nothing compared to what I was buying from farmers in Eastern Ontario 30 years ago at the peterborough Farmer's Market or the Byward Market in Ottawa.

    Make no mistake, I'll pay a premium for food, by not if it's trucked 700 miles and sold at Safeway. But the options here still pale in comparison to the rest of northern north america.
    posted by salishsea at 5:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    My oven isn't big enough to roast a whole chicken, but thanks for the dose of food shaming, I guess.
    posted by ErikaB at 5:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


    Hey maxwelton...also a Salish Sea neighbour, on Bowen Island. We have great chocolates, and I WISH we had used books.
    posted by salishsea at 5:50 PM on April 10, 2013


    Metafilter: there are people who will impulse-buy an entire hot chicken for immediate consumption.
    posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:55 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I'm pretty sure you didn't intend this to come off as dismissive, because that wouldn't square with what I know about you from your other comments.

    I thought it was kind of mean too. Let's please not turn this into yet another "the person I am now sincerely has no time to cook" vs. "you just must not caaaaaare enough" pissing match.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


    FWIW, I have a chicken pot pie recipe, and rather than screwing around, I give the local Shop-rite $4.99 for one ready to go, I pull off the thighs and drumsticks, cube the breasts, and I'm good to go for the pot pie, the 6 year old eats the drums if she gets picky, and I have a couple of thighs for lunch tomorrow.

    That's /me figures... 8 servings of pot pie, lunch for one, and a happy 6 year old for five bucks.
    posted by mikelieman at 6:02 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    When I die I want my bones saved in the same plastic clamshell.
    posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:02 PM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


    In the last couple of years, I've taken to riding to the market on my bicycle in favor of the car. This keeps me from buying more than I can comfortably carry, which isn't a lot - just what will fit in my backpack or messenger bag (I have no racks/panniers on my bikes).

    When I do drive, it's to pick up items for a dinner party, or those once-a-month trips when I need dog food, laundry detergent, toiletries, etc. On those occasions, I bring a list, and I stick to it.
    posted by brand-gnu at 6:02 PM on April 10, 2013


    One out of every three Metafilter threads is now guilt-free. Try the next one.

    Rotisserie chicken is just fine, thanks
    posted by echo target at 6:03 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


    I know too much about Targets.

    They completely remodeled our local Target. Everything. But when I walk the aisles I still know exactly where I'm standing in the old one and can picture it in my mind easily.

    What's up with that?
    posted by hal9k at 6:03 PM on April 10, 2013


    "And they'll realize that the eyeballs of the figures on the cereal boxes are looking down to the place where a toddler meets the eye, if the toddler's in that little seat in a grocery carriage."

    Given that the cereal boxes can be located anywhere from ankle-height to six and a half feet off the ground I'm going to have to call shenanigans on this one.
    posted by Justinian at 6:08 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    My wife, who is from Japan (where I have lived on and off for the past 19 years) often remarks that shopping in Canada must be like shopping in some Soviet republic before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    My local Somerfields in England felt like this. I thought I had stepped through a portal and travelled back in time about 30 years and moved east over the Iron Curtain. It was actually enjoyable in a perverse way as long as I framed it as time travel. Suddenly the lack of bread and half empty shelves in the afternoons became historical nuances.

    Then we moved near a Sainsbury's and a Waitrose and I felt almost as if I was back in Canada at my local Loblaws.
    posted by srboisvert at 6:11 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    This econtalk podcast featuring an interview of a FritoLays exec is kind of interesting. It goes into how they have they have their own stockers who maintain the FritoLay sections of the grocery stores because they don't trust store employs to properly stack their product on the shelves.
    posted by srboisvert at 6:14 PM on April 10, 2013


    I've never considered buying a rotisserie chicken before, but I think you guys have sold me on it.
    posted by desjardins at 6:28 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    It tastes best if you eat it standing, back hunched, tearing chunks of steaming meat off the carcass with your bare hands and shoveling it into your gaping maw while making animalistic grunts of satisfaction.

    At least that works for me.
    posted by Justinian at 6:34 PM on April 10, 2013 [26 favorites]


    It tastes best if you eat it standing, back hunched, tearing chunks of steaming meat off the carcass with your bare hands and shoveling it into your gaping maw while making animalistic grunts of satisfaction.

    No. You hold the chicken with both hands and rip off the meat with your teeth. This is training for the coming apocalypse.

    I've never considered buying a rotisserie chicken before, but I think you guys have sold me on it.

    We have newsletter and meet monthly.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:39 PM on April 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


    Kevin Street: "I wish this was the case, but it seems to be going the other way in Canada. More varieties all the time, all stocked in equal proportion - which ends up meaning the plain old variety I want is always in short supply."

    It's pretty cyclic grabbing both the New Flavour marketing and the perverse "less choice means more sales" metric.
    posted by Mitheral at 6:41 PM on April 10, 2013


    That's great, unless you need - oh, say - things like cat litter, laundry detergent, toilet paper, tampons... you know, all the stuff people buy at grocery stores.

    Generally I buy food at the grocery store.
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:50 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    My favorite are the rotisserie chickens next to the express checkout, on an actual rotisserie. What exactly has happened to us as a culture that there are people who will impulse-buy an entire hot chicken for immediate consumption?

    When I visited East Germany back in 1985 roasted whole chickens were a very common thing, sold from little shops in pretty much every village or city that often appeared to sell nothing else. Curiously, they were called by the English word "Broiler".

    In a place where you couldn't find anything like fast food, or any kind of pre-prepared food, or even much in the way of restaurants in a lot of places, you could pick up all the Broilers you wanted, very inexpensive, all pre-cooked and ready to eat, and have a feast. They were quite delicious. Just don't expect to be able to find anything else to go with your Broiler . . .

    I'm not sure why they were called Broilers or why they (both the name & the concept) were a common thing in East Germany only, but not in any surrounding countries and certainly not in West Germany.
    posted by flug at 6:54 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


    The Grocery Store Design
    The conventional grocery science works. Consumers fall for it. So, as much as we, as consumers, design what is IN the store—via, supply and demand—the Big Guys manipulate us so that we choose things how they want us to choose them. And, right now, they are winning.
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:55 PM on April 10, 2013


    I saw that Target advertising targeting article a few months back and this week Target sent me a random "new baby!" circular and my first thought was, "Oh God, I hope I'm not pregnant!" Because Target KNOWS THINGS, man.

    "I've never considered buying a rotisserie chicken before, but I think you guys have sold me on it."

    Lemon Pepper is the best flavor. It sells out first.

    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:56 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I'm not sure why they were called Broilers or why they (both the name & the concept) were a common thing in East Germany only

    All right--here are the answers to those questions as well as a delicious-looking recipe for an authentic East German Broiler.

    You won't be able to buy THAT at the checkout stand!
    posted by flug at 6:58 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I love cooking a chicken because I love cooking, and also usually the whole chickens come with giblets and I can make a nice pâté from the liver, and I can have it all to myself because my family thinks it's gross. (I know, right?)

    But I'll get a rotisserie chicken sometimes too, because we get pretty busy. And it's usually OK, but I feel cheated out of my pâté. And the neck, heart and gizzard that I would have put in the stock. Mmm, heartstock.
    posted by Cookiebastard at 7:00 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    Compared to ONTARIO, Vancouver is still a benighted backwater. I was shocked at the food prices when I moved here in 1994 and nothing has changed. And the lack of local food has always been dispritiing to me. It's better on vancouver Island, but nothing compared to what I was buying from farmers in Eastern Ontario 30 years ago at the peterborough Farmer's Market or the Byward Market in Ottawa.

    This must absolutely be a case of the grass being greener, because I had the opposite experience when I moved from Vancouver to Ottawa. I shopped the East Hastings and Nanaimo area of East Van and my grocery bills were sweet indeed. Awesome fresh produce 12 months of the year, a great butcher's, fantastic deli at Bosa's.

    When I moved to Ottawa, I couldn't believe the price of produce. Broccoli was twice the price. The only mangoes were the flavourless Tommy Atkins and forget finding lychees or rambutan, long beans or bok choi. And Byward's "farmers" sold oranges and bananas! (That has changed in the past couple years, now they clearly identify the local producers and the importers have mostly disappeared.) Vancouver had local, BC greenhouse produce 12 months a year, as opposed to Ontario's South American options in winter. I get local produce from the farmers markets for a couple months in the summer, but could get the same in Vancouver from May to November.

    And I whine all the time about not being able to get foods that I considered staples in Vancouver without a lot of effort here, and often when I do find them, the turnover is so slow the products are stale. Corn tortillas I'm looking at you.
    posted by looli at 7:01 PM on April 10, 2013


    Speaking of pâté, does nobody else think that eating the organ responsible for cleaning all the gross crap out of your blood is questionable?

    (granted, it is super delicious)
    posted by Strass at 7:03 PM on April 10, 2013


    Our local Zellers finished its conversion into a Target last week (Canada is in quite a tizzy at the moment), and, well, it's basically just the same old Zellers with slightly better stuff and slightly less of it.

    And, yes, the most direct route to menswear and electronics is still straight through the bras for whatever reason.
    posted by Sys Rq at 7:16 PM on April 10, 2013


    Had a very strange, Cronenbergesque experience at my local Schnuck’s the other day. SO and I usually just breeze around the store’s perimeter, getting decent produce (basically whatever is too expensive at the co-op) and sometimes picking up a package of supposedly “organic” chicken thighs or drumsticks (My rotisserie story comes later).

    While walking through an aisle on our way to the register, I felt somehow more agoraphobic than usual and looked down at the floor. Sure enough, there were little evenly spaced black dots on the floor, beyond the reach of the 3am high-gloss floor buffer. These dots were imprints of where the shelf legs once were, and the new legs were about an inch behind. So, the space between the aisles had increased by about an inch. Then I thought, WAIT. So, I walked around the corner to the other side of that aisle, and sure enough THAT aisle also had stepped its feet back an inch. Then the thought hits me (usually it’s intentionally hard to think in these places) - did they replace EVERY SHELF in this store with ones that jutted out AN INCH less than the previous ones?

    I pulled the cart over before we got to the register and just wandered for a few minutes. As I said, this particular supermarket supplements our local food co-op shopping, which has just doubled in size and their prices and selection are getting better by the day. We were usually able to find at least one specialty item at Schnuck’s that we didn’t plan on buying, and feel OK about it. This time around it seemed like every item in the middle of the store, in addition to being on an inexplicably, infinitesimally shorter shelf, was also cheap, corn-syrup-based crap with a plastic lid. The whole place somehow transformed overnight into a "golden zone" or dollar store, and it was really freaky. The cheapness permeated the store, and it felt planned, but I couldn’t tell you what it was like before that made it bearable.

    Also, IIRC, you can get three (3) rotisserie chickens for $15 from the back of a purpose-built mini-truck near pretty much any metro stop in Seoul, South Korea (it’s been a while). I was never quite drunk enough, or not-getting-into-a-taxi-enough to take advantage of this deal, but hopefully someone can verify this.

    Oh, and we've taken to shopping at TJ Maxx recently, and both the men's and women's bathrooms are located directly through a dense forest of discounted women's intimates. Odd.
    posted by obscurator at 7:23 PM on April 10, 2013


    Man, rotisserie chicken is tasty, but my local supermarket has several complete meal options ranging from salads and the aforementioned rotisserie chicken to their own pizza oven, where you can pick out your own pizza and they'll toss it in the oven, then you hang out and shoot the shit for a few minutes and they hand you a huge fresh pizza for like 8 bucks. It rules.
    posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:25 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I work for the prepress vendor of a Twin Cities-based, Fortune 500 food CPG that shall not be directly named. We do all their US packaging prepress and a good share of their global packaging prepress. I do not speak for the client or my employer.

    "The design of a package is incredibly important. I tell them to duck walk down the cereal aisle at a supermarket," says Stilgoe. "And they'll realize that the eyeballs of the figures on the cereal boxes are looking down to the place where a toddler meets the eye, if the toddler's in that little seat in a grocery carriage."

    The above is absolutely not true -- if there's an equity character on a package, their eyeline is almost always focused on the product shot and not somewhere off the box. The client wants your eyes to follow the character's eyes, not for the character to devour your soul.

    The design firms we work with don't do it, and we certainly don't do it when modifying existing packages for new sizes, to fit promos, etc. Only a few equity characters have poses that break the fourth wall and address the consumer directly on packaging, and the two most common of those are exclusive to baking and meals brands.

    The quote is pop-psych bullshit and nothing more.
    posted by nathan_teske at 7:31 PM on April 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


    (this is in reply to salishsea's reply to my comment upthread)

    Since Sobey's bought Thrifty's, grocery shopping has become very bland and homogeneous, although Victoria's version of TNT Market, Fairway's sells a lot of produce from the Lower Mainland, as do small traditional greengrocers that still thrive in Chinatown on Fisgard.
    posted by KokuRyu at 7:36 PM on April 10, 2013


    It was intensely spooky, like I had fallen through some kind of spacetime wormhole that only led to Targets.

    I was trying to explain the concept of Walmart Space to my kids the other day. It's a wormhole that only leads to Walmart - stepping into any Walmart (which I rarely do) always leads to the same place. It's nowhere and everywhere.
    posted by sneebler at 7:40 PM on April 10, 2013


    Oh, and we've taken to shopping at TJ Maxx recently, and both the men's and women's bathrooms are located directly through a dense forest of discounted women's intimates. Odd.

    Emergency incontinence purchases?
    posted by jaduncan at 7:43 PM on April 10, 2013


    I would be a fool to cook a chicken.

    Especially if you get your rotisserie chickens at Costco. How do they do it!?
    posted by Wordwoman at 7:51 PM on April 10, 2013


    Since Sobey's bought Thrifty's, grocery shopping has become very bland and homogeneous

    Man, I almost forgot that Thrifty's used to be a perfectly good (great, even) grocery store before Sobey's bought them and stopped stocking all of my favourite stuff. Also, if you're buying veggies in Chinatown, you might as well head up Douglas past Paul's Motor Inn to the Mexican grocery store. Forget rotisserie chicken, they've got home-made salsa and a deep freeze filled with empanadas.
    posted by Lorin at 7:56 PM on April 10, 2013


    My local Somerfields in England felt like this. I thought I had stepped through a portal and travelled back in time about 30 years and moved east over the Iron Curtain. It was actually enjoyable in a perverse way as long as I framed it as time travel. Suddenly the lack of bread and half empty shelves in the afternoons became historical nuances.
    The Soviet Safeway in Dupont Circle! (which isn't there anymore). When I first moved to DC, I lived on Scott Circle. Your options were the Soviet Safeway and what was then Fresh Fields. It was called the Soviet Safeway because it was tiny and dingy, the veggies that they did have were always wilted, and there was never any bread or milk. Good times. Good times. [I'm from LA-where grocery stores have themes. And unwilted vegetables.]
    posted by atomicstone at 7:58 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I get all my food from Fresh Direct so I don't have to smell anything. Right now I'm doing Paleo so mostly just experimenting with vegetables.
    posted by sweetkid at 8:11 PM on April 10, 2013


    The pioneer in this field of psychology and retail design is Paco Underhill.
    posted by Robert Angelo at 8:13 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


    The problem with "shopping the perimeter" is that sometimes I need to buy things in cans.
    posted by windykites at 8:30 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Man, do I love those rotisserie chickens. I can stand there and pretty much eat most of it at the kitchen counter as soon as I get home.

    No shame, just delicious.
    posted by SpacemanStix at 8:57 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I like rotisserie chicken. But tonight, I was cutting one up and I dropped the knife point first into my foot. The time savings are negated when you have to lie on the floor with your foot elevated and clean blood off the oven. I mentioned in a different thread that my son recently cut his finger on a baby carrot. I'm going to have to do an askme question on safer food choices. Rotisserie Already-Cut-Up Nuggets? Pudding? (Also, one on non-bloody work shoe recommendations.)
    posted by artychoke at 8:58 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


    I live in the epicenter of Boston and the grocery store here is shopping on Expert Level. No more than six seconds to contemplate any purchase before you're steamrolled down the very narrow aisle. I see people stop in confusion and panic and think to myself "amateurs" as I smile and say "excuse me" that they at least have warning before being run over by my stroller.

    And why am I going so fast you ask? Because if I didn't, I would myself be run over by the horde of people who just got off work and are going to get to the rotisserie chickens first if I don't nab one right now.

    There are no impulse buys in this scenario as there's no time to consider any impulse other than "Acquire food. Leave." Also having no car helps a lot. I've learned that my stroller can hold exactly one small basket of stuff. Can't buy more than that because I can't carry it home. My son gets the occasional Will You Calm Down Now balloon, that's about it.

    (Also this set up means I am at the store at least three times per week given the speed at which we burn through one stroller's worth if groceries.)
    posted by sonika at 9:01 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


    Metafilter: mostly just experimenting with vegetables.
    posted by schmod at 9:12 PM on April 10, 2013


    the man of twists and turns: "The conventional grocery science works."

    Counterpoint: Trader Joes.

    Sure, their stores are engineered, but they thankfully don't play too many subliminal games. Shelf placement is based upon popularity rather than profit margins, and the sales tactic with the free samples is pretty straightforward. They seem to believe that consistently-good products will sell themselves, and the store's cult-like following seems to indicate that they're doing a pretty good job (I'd challenge you to find a non-Apple store that does more business per square foot than the DC TJ's). Also, you know that your impulse buys are impulse buys, and somehow that makes me feel better. (Or, at least, that's how I justify filling an entire cart with nothing but impulse buys when I go there...)

    Aldi also throws a bunch of the conventional grocery store science out the window, and throws in a scary level of efficiency that only a German company could have possibly devised. Admittedly, I don't find myself schlepping across town often to go there (their cart system is particularly annoying), but when I do, I constantly think "Holy crap, that's impossibly cheap! I'll buy five!" Good place to stock up on party food, though.

    Oh, and I'm not sure how the companies think it can possibly help their bottom line, but I hate, hate, hate Target and Wal-Mart's meticulously-engineered cashier staffing levels that force me to wait in line for exactly 5 minutes every single time.
    posted by schmod at 9:25 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I love me some TJs but always feel like it is the Store Where I Buy Snacks as opposed to food I can use to make meals.
    posted by jamaro at 9:54 PM on April 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


    That's great, unless you need - oh, say - things like cat litter, laundry detergent, toilet paper, tampons... you know, all the stuff people buy at grocery stores.

    ...

    > Generally I buy food at the grocery store.


    Hey, me, too! And that's why I have to shop the center aisles as well as the perimeter: to buy whole wheat flour and yeast* so I can bake bread two or three times every week, for bulk-bin oatmeal and dried fruit to make granola, for dried beans and canned beans, for canned tomatoes in wintertime when we don't have locally grown tomatoes, for polenta, for almonds and dried mushrooms and cocoa powder and brown rice and the good peanut butter made from just peanuts and a zillion other things that Mark Bittman and Alice Waters and Michael Pollan would recommend I keep on hand.

    Don't misunderstand. I won't pretend that my diet is all unprocessed fresh foods and minimally processed dried foods. (I not only bought myself a box of Cheez-Its recently; I wrote !!!CHEEZ-ITS!!! on the shopping list because I was sooooo excited about them.) But even if I did only buy unprocessed fresh food and minimally professed dried goods, I'd still be shopping the center aisles in any grocery I've seen in the last 20 years.

    *Except no, I don't buy those tiny jars of yeast at the grocery store; I buy my yeast in 2-lb packs. But someone who makes bread once a week or so would probably be buying packets or small jars of yeast from the middle aisles.
    posted by Elsa at 10:04 PM on April 10, 2013


    things like cat litter, laundry detergent, toilet paper... you know, all the stuff people buy at grocery stores.

    That's the stuff I buy at Costco, once a year.
    posted by caryatid at 10:28 PM on April 10, 2013


    Hey, me, too! And that's why I have to shop the center aisles as well as the perimeter: to buy whole wheat flour and yeast* so I can bake bread two or three times every week...

    Yeah, the stick to the edges thing is a great sound bite, but is defeated by the "Spice and baking" isle. I'd put my eating habits up against just about anyone's when it comes to avoiding processed foods, and I venture into the center of the store all the time. You just got to pay attention to what you're eating and buying. But you know, if only sticking to the edges helps you do that, I'm all for it, just don't think it's the only way.

    Also, I have a hunch that the stores know exactly who does that, and exploit their habits. The Target near me was remodeled, and low and behold, the edge now has the frozen food section, but not just ANY frozen food, just the organic stuff.
    posted by Gygesringtone at 10:38 PM on April 10, 2013


    ErikaB said "I really wish people would stop insisting that you "shop the edges." That's great, unless you need - oh, say - things like cat litter, laundry detergent, toilet paper, tampons... you know, all the stuff people buy at grocery stores.

    My impression of people who say you should "shop the edges" is that they do not actually do the grocery shopping very often."

    You're doing it wrong. Non-perishables are almost always much more expensive at a grocery store than at a general merchandiser like Target or Costco. Of course, you might not have these options where you live. But for the average consumer, buying food from the perimeter of the grocery store and non-perishables elsewhere will ensure you're getting a lot more for your money, and eating better, too.
    posted by OHSnap at 10:42 PM on April 10, 2013


    You're doing it wrong.

    To be fair, if someone is bringing home their shopping via public transportation, feet, or bike, it's not wrong, it's a practical albeit somewhat pricer, option. I spread my own shopping around to various general merchandisers in order to capture the best prices but I'm well aware that the only reason I'm able to do that is because I drive my own car everywhere.
    posted by jamaro at 10:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


    OHSnap, that 'you're doing it wrong" really isn't fair, because - as you yourself note - many people don't have the options of a Target or a Costco where they live. And even if they do have one or the other it may suck (I'm looking at YOU Atlantic Avenue Target).
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 PM on April 10, 2013


    You're doing it wrong. Non-perishables are almost always much more expensive at a grocery store than at a general merchandiser like Target or Costco.

    It sounds like if I were doing it for you, I'd be doing it wrong. But I'm doing it for me, for my household, for my transit choices, for my apartment size, for my convenience and schedule, and I'm doing it right for those things --- or at least a lot closer to "right" than shopping at CostCo would be for me.

    We have a tiny kitchen with little storage, I have a particular routine that takes me past some stores on a regular schedule and to the hinterlands where a CostCo would be maybe once a year, and I like to take the bus when possible.

    And when I lived somewhere where I did occasionally shop at a CostCo, I didn't generally like it: the range of choices for most of the staples didn't overlap with my preferences, for one thing. They didn't carry the peanut butter I liked, for example. I rarely left CostCo feeling like it was a worthwhile trip.

    I'm glad that routine works for you, but someone for whom it doesn't work isn't by definition "doing it wrong."
    posted by Elsa at 11:09 PM on April 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


    ^Alright, the first sentence of my reply was admittedly glib in the quest for a cheap laugh. The point remains that, if you have the ability, segmenting your shopping among retailers has the potential to save you money and improve the quality of what you buy.

    The option also exists to subscribe to Amazon Prime and order non-perishables shipped to your door.
    posted by OHSnap at 11:10 PM on April 10, 2013


    And anything that makes me go to Target routinely is "doing it wrong" for me. Not only is the nearest target a long drive rather than a quick bus ride, it's also a place where I
    A) don't feel great about spending my money, and
    B) will nonetheless spend waaaay too much time and money.

    The point remains that, if you have the ability, segmenting your shopping among retailers has the potential to save you money and improve the quality of what you buy.

    Yup, and I do that mostly with locally owned shops: our corner store, the gourmet shop around the block, the farmers' market, the small Italian market, the specialty stores in our thriving shopping district. But I still need to buy flour, and the grocery is still the best place for me to buy it. Everyone can figure out their own best way.

    If "shop the perimeter" works for you, great --- but notice that it only works with the added advice you've tacked onto it. For most people, it doesn't work as stand-alone advice.
    posted by Elsa at 11:14 PM on April 10, 2013


    "For most people, it doesn't work as stand-alone advice."

    I think I'd have to respectfully disagree to an extent - in vast parts of the country, people don't have access to "[the] corner store, the gourmet shop around the block, the farmers' market, the small Italian market, the specialty stores in [a] thriving shopping district." They have a grocery store, a Target/Wal-Mart, and a hardware store. My in-laws live in a small town of 15,000 people and those are their choices. I've been all over rural parts of the western US where the choices are similar. For people in these areas, shopping only the perimeter of the grocery store will result in healthier food purchases that will also save them money versus the prepared/packaged food in the middle. (I will concede as others have that the baking supply aisle throws a monkey wrench in the "shop the perimeter" rule.)

    I, as a counter-example to your scenario, live in a mid-sized midwestern US city with terrible public transport where a suburban resident visiting the shops you list, would consume most of a day and a lot of gas. Meanwhile, Kroger and Target are often in the same parking lot.

    So the "for most people" clause of your argument seems to apply to big-city urban dwellers. You're quite lucky to have those choices, but I'd submit that "most people" don't share in that luxury.
    posted by OHSnap at 11:38 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    The whole "secrets of your supermarket" thing makes for a good attention grabber, but, as others have noted, grocery stores have been testing and refining just about every aspect of their design, display and presentation since pretty much the dawn of the industry.

    I think this is mostly because selling groceries is a brutally competitive business, with profit margins in the low single digits, even for successful stores. They have to look for every edge they can get, and even then it's all about volume! Or so I've been told by a relative who once was a manager for Kroger and later was involved in promulgating early versions of price-scanning technology.

    Additional data point: I, too, enjoy a rotisserie chicken every once in a while.
    posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 11:46 PM on April 10, 2013


    But you yourself are augmenting the simple "Shop the perimeter" with more tack-on advice, useful advice for some people, including the advice you just gave me to buy non-perimeter foods other places than the grocery store.

    It looks to me like you and I agree that "shop the perimeter" doesn't actually provide people with enough food choices; we just differ in where the other choices are most efficiently found.
    posted by Elsa at 11:46 PM on April 10, 2013


    Shopping the edges at my local Tesco would get me salad, bread, cheese, the delicatessen, and wine! Awesome!
    posted by alasdair at 11:50 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


    Especially if you get your rotisserie chickens at Costco. How do they do it!?

    Unfortunately I don't have a Costco near me.Within walking distance I have a local "Market", they don't even pretend to be super, a Gristedes,and a few gourmet shops that are mostly smoked salmon, cheeses, and various types of expensive charcuterie. Which is why such ridiculously cheap rotisserie chicken is so amazing.

    Food shopping in Manhattan, and certain parts of Brooklyn, is interesting, if you dont want to take the train it is actually kind of hard to get common stuff. Things I've been unable to find at certain times include Kraft singles, hot dog buns, hot dogs, any type of Chef-boy-ar-dee products, pilsbury crescent rolls. The things they never run out of are Greek yogurt and diet coke. Store are smaller so I suppose they want to pack in as much brie,quince paste and fancy cakes as possible.

    Then again what can I expect, I can walk across the street at 4am and buy as much kale chips as I want.
    posted by Ad hominem at 11:57 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Shopping the edges of my local SaveMart would get me fresh fruit, the deli (including rotisserie chicken, yay), ice cream sandwiches*, hard liquor and the pharmacy.

    I like my local Asian grocery where shopping the edges gets me yet more fresh fruit and veggies, tabletop kerosene stoves, giant penis clams, flat bottomed soup spoons, noodles that look like spun fiberglass and BBQ ducks still with their heads on.

    *eating one as I type
    posted by jamaro at 12:03 AM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


    Shopping the edges is silly advice anyway, it's not as if we're completely unthinking idiots responding to whatever visual stimuli hits us. Unless you're go shopping when you're hungry. Don't do that, it's how you walk out with the oddest mixture of items.

    An hour later you're sitting in the dark with greasy fingers, your belly stuffed from rotisserie chicken, wine, cheese, crackers and m&ms while realizing you forgot light bulbs and napkins.

    "Eh", you think as you wipe your hands on the cat and stumble around by the light of a phone, you can pick that stuff up tomorrow.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:46 AM on April 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


    If it's available where you live, my wife and I have found that we save a lot of grocery shopping money using Peapod of all things. Even with the delivery charge, we don't shop hungry, we don't shop with our toddler, we can easily price compare and we don't have walk across the store to put stuff back if we don't want it. Of course, we are both terrible impulse shoppers as well, so if you have any sort of self-control, your results may vary, but we easily spend 25% less on groceries when we use Peapod instead of going in person.
    posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:30 AM on April 11, 2013


    I can't believe I have to walk all the way to the back of the store to buy a rotisserie chicken like some sort of barbarian. Right next to the express checkout you say?
    posted by markr at 3:52 AM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    My favorite are the rotisserie chickens next to the express checkout, on an actual rotisserie. What exactly has happened to us as a culture that there are people who will impulse-buy an entire hot chicken for immediate consumption.

    Where is your sense of smell?! Between the metro station and my apartment I walk down a street with 3 butchers, each of which has a rotisserie outside with slowly spinning golden chickens, juicily dripping onto sliced potatoes. Sometimes I have plans to go home and cook something healthy and full of vegetables, but am over-ridden by the aroma of the chickens. Luckily, they taste as good as they look, and the price isn't so bad (€6 per chicken). Same thing happens with the bakery but sadly most baguettes do not taste as good as they smell, even in Paris.
    posted by whatzit at 4:13 AM on April 11, 2013


    "The above is absolutely not true -- if there's an equity character on a package, their eyeline is almost always focused on the product shot and not somewhere off the box. The client wants your eyes to follow the character's eyes, not for the character to devour your soul."

    These are the charactered cereals I thought of first:
    Frosted Flakes
    Lucky Charms
    Trix (multiple images because it seems to change the most)
    Froot Loops
    Cap'n Crunch
    Cocoa Puffs (multiple images - couldn't figure out which was current)

    Of all of them, only the Trix rabbit consistently looks at the product rather than through the fourth wall, plus one of the more recent-looking Cocoa Puffs boxes. The rest of them are looking either toward the viewer, or at the cereal in a way that includes the viewer - not something the average toddler is likely to miss.

    I do not doubt that the people handing down the design mandates want there to be some sort of tie from the character to the product, but advertising means engaging the viewer, not the food.

    (full disclosure - I work in advertising and have worked on General Mills cereals)
    posted by Mchelly at 4:31 AM on April 11, 2013


    And as a side note of that research - What the hell did they do to Booberry!??
    posted by Mchelly at 4:34 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    The most effective way to avoid additional impulse shopping is to be lacking money. Now I'm not saying that your groceries budget will go to all the right options...
    posted by ersatz at 4:54 AM on April 11, 2013


    The most effective way to avoid additional impulse shopping is to be lacking money.

    This is America, just put it on one of the other credit cards.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:25 AM on April 11, 2013


    And as a side note of that research - What the hell did they do to Booberry!??

    The older pic looks a little too disconcertingly "stoner" for a kids' cereal box, so maybe...rehab?
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 AM on April 11, 2013


    This econtalk podcast featuring an interview of a FritoLays exec is kind of interesting. It goes into how they have they have their own stockers who maintain the FritoLay sections of the grocery stores because they don't trust store employs to properly stack their product on the shelves.

    That isn't all that unusual. Bread companies have been stocking their own shelves for ages. The Coke and Pepsi guys do the stocking, too. Beer and wine does, too. On any given day at my grocery you will see people who are obviously not store employees stocking various products throughout the aisles.
    posted by Thorzdad at 5:44 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I'm not sure if Home Depot does any of their own stocking with the exception of lumber. Paint, hardware, tools, electrical supply, plumbing fittings, and tile are all stocked by suppliers. It's frustrating as heck that when they run out of anything they a) can't tell you when they'll have more stock; b) can't order it for you; and c) if they only stock 6 cans of something, there is 5 on the shelf and you need 12 it'll be 2.5 weeks to get the 12th can.
    posted by Mitheral at 5:53 AM on April 11, 2013


    The most effective way to avoid additional impulse shopping is to be lacking money.

    Speaking from experience, being lactose and gluten intolerant is also highly effective. The scent of baked wheat does absolutely nothing for me, and I am only too happy to avoid the Lactose Of Doom end of supermarkets.

    At the supermarkets I go to in Nice (France), wine and spirits are in the center-back, while dairy and meats are in the upper corner to the right when looking at the layout from the entrance. I only ever go to supermarkets for toiletries, wine, and the occasional pack of chips though. My favorite local supermarket, the only one I have a card for, appears to have given up on sending me milk coupons and now send coupons for wine instead. Hee. At an open-air market ten minutes away on foot, I can buy a kilo of organic oranges for two euros, locally-grown apples for another two euros a kilo, a half-dozen free-range organic-fed chicken eggs for two or three euros depending on the seller, and grab meat from any of the Label Rouge butchers that are within a stone's throw of my place.

    Who also have rotisseries with chickens and potato slices in front of their shops. Yum.

    Already made my own stock from a home-baked chicken with honey, sea salt, and Herbes de Provence this weekend though – miam miam.
    posted by fraula at 5:56 AM on April 11, 2013


    It goes into how they have they have their own stockers who maintain the FritoLay sections of the grocery stores because they don't trust store employs to properly stack their product on the shelves.

    That isn't all that unusual. Bread companies have been stocking their own shelves for ages.


    I've mentioned this before, but I know a guy who had a bread truck, and he has like an hour of stories about how he would fuck with the other brands (and their people would fuck with his). The one that sticks in my mind is that if you turn a wrapped loaf of bread around on the shelf (so the tied end is sticking out), not only will no one buy that loaf, but no one will buy the loaves around it, because their outer wrappers have touched the outer wrapper of a loaf that someone else has clearly touched.
    posted by Etrigan at 6:10 AM on April 11, 2013


    My conclusion is that people think about rotisserie chickens a lot more than you'd expect.
    posted by nowhere man at 6:29 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    "You're doing it wrong. Non-perishables are almost always much more expensive at a grocery store than at a general merchandiser like Target or Costco."

    That's interesting; I do better for toilet paper, laundry detergent, and shampoo at Kroger than at Target (especially during P&G "brandsaver" week, when the deals at Kroger are killer and at Target are barely existent), and my Kroger has more shelf space devoted to the first two than my Target does. Target to me is the place to go to get all the things at once (saving TIME rather than money) and to save on Target house brands (which are very good mostly!) and on clothes and housewares, but I haven't found their prices all that great on groceries or personal and cleaning products, especially when I have a brand preference.

    Cat food prices for me are terrible at Kroger and Target both; that one is worth schlepping to PetSmart a few times a year for a big stock-up. Cat LITTER prices are okay at Kroger and Target, though.

    Also, side note, my Kroger is a union shop, which I support for ideological reasons, but also the service is better there than at most other local grocery stores and mass merchandisers, because their employee turnover is a lot lower -- a LOT lower -- and they get paid a more reasonable wage. It makes a big difference in my experience of the store over time, when the service is consistently high quality. I also find that it matters that I recognize a lot of the employees who've been working there for years, and they recognize me, which is not my typical experience of large chain retailers.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:31 AM on April 11, 2013


    Cosco? Amazon prime? Do you realize that not everyone has $50 to spend on a cosco card, nor a car to carry huge purchases, nor the use of a credit card, nor reliable internet access? Do you further realize that there are a huge variety of foods in the centre aisles that are not prepared foods? Do you further realize that not everyone can afford to eat only fresh meat and produce, and that some of us have to buy canned meats and veggies to either a) stay in the budget and still have enough food to last until payday or b) use our unexpected surplus of funds on food that will last until the next time we're hungry and too broke to go to the grocery store? Which might be a month or longer of living off of the food already in the house?
    posted by windykites at 6:50 AM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    Yes, it is expensive to be poor.
    posted by ook at 6:51 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    'look, everybody's using them - why not you?'

    Thank goodness for shopping carts! A delicious, salty rotisserie chicken would take up nearly the whole basket on my arm!

    I was planning on making breaded pork chops for dinner tonight, but I am pretty sure I am going to end up having rotisserie chicken, and it is entirely due to the comments in this post. *toasts MeFites with drumstick*
    posted by peagood at 7:04 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I have no idea what I'm going to do with marzipan

    Eat it in bite-sized pieces with a handful of chocolate chips. Preferably standing up.
    posted by Aizkolari at 7:08 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    That's interesting; I do better for toilet paper, laundry detergent, and shampoo at Kroger than at Target (especially during P&G "brandsaver" week, when the deals at Kroger are killer and at Target are barely existent), and my Kroger has more shelf space devoted to the first two than my Target does.

    It's worth knowing the price match guarantees at various retailers because this can save you both time and money. Target's is pretty shite with exclusions that eliminate pretty much all possible matches except where they themselves lower the price within a week. Walmart's on the other hand is pretty much wide open and will price match and accept competitor's coupons. Safeway/Dominicks is all over the place and seems to be store by store and employee by employee.

    Walgreens does not price match at all and CVS apparently now does but the policy doesn't seem to be online anywhere.
    posted by srboisvert at 7:09 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Things I find in the centre aisle of the grocery store that are plenty nutritious: pasta, canned tomatoes and other veggies/fruits, canned clams and tuna, beans and lentils, oatmeal, spices and baking ingredients, etc. etc. etc.

    I have always disliked the "shop the perimeter" advice too because it is oversimplified, and also does not seem to take into account anything other than bare survival needs - like the joy and pleasure and the cultural importance of having things like coffee or cookies or chocolate, not to mention all the cleaning supplies and paper goods and pet items that plenty of people rely on their grocery stores for. (It also seems to be Item #1 on the Stepford Script for New Dietitians since I hear it repeated so, so often in the same monotonous, cheery tone.)

    Also, I've carried my groceries home every week for over a decade. My impulse purchasing habits are probably quite different than those of someone with a car.
    posted by Ouisch at 7:10 AM on April 11, 2013


    My conclusion is that people think about rotisserie chickens a lot more than you'd expect.

    Don't forget the potatoes or wine!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:13 AM on April 11, 2013


    Rotisserie chicken with roast vegetables.

    And wine.
    posted by The Whelk at 7:20 AM on April 11, 2013


    Today I learned that European rotisserie chickens drip onto potatoes. I'm going to France next month and I must taste these potatoes.
    posted by moonmilk at 7:28 AM on April 11, 2013


    That's the stuff I buy at Costco, once a year.

    That's great if you don't live in a 450 sq. foot apartment.

    Even though I have a tiny apartment I still love to cook and find ways to work around my kitchen's limitations. I suppose I could use shelf space for Costco bulk purchases instead of pots and pans but it wouldnt work for me.

    Some of my past "Hey, even in my tiny kitchen I can cook/eat healthier!" comments have probably come across as food shaming or condescending and I apologize for that.
    posted by Room 641-A at 7:28 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    Ad hominem: "The things they never run out of are Greek yogurt and diet coke. Store are smaller so I suppose they want to pack in as much brie,quince paste and fancy cakes as possible."

    Oh my god, New York, I don't even know you anymore....

    I know that staples have always been difficult to find in NYC, but did the city really transition directly from "inedible expensive shit" to "really expensive shit"?

    For all of DC's faults, I'm pretty glad that we've got tons of decent supermarkets.
    posted by schmod at 7:33 AM on April 11, 2013


    After you eat the delicious rotisserie chicken, please throw the carcass in a pot with some water, and simmer it for at least an hour. Strain out the bones and use the stock to make rice, or even risotto. You can read up on making a proper stock if you like, but half my appreciation of rotisserie chicken is anticipating the risotto or other tasty meal made with the leftover meat and the stock, so don't toss it.

    I buy the cheap versions of tp (single-ply; I'm on a septic system), the paper towels that I seldom use, and cleaning products. Target doesn't carry the cheap versions, and it would cost lots of time and some gas money to make that trip. Plus, I'll be tempted to buy stuff I don't need. Walmart has massive sizes of low quality goods and treats employees like chattel, and I avoid it. The grocery store has the products I want, and I know how to read the labels and the unit-pricing. If you want to get me wound up, we can talk about the nonsense of liquid detergents being labeled 'randomly' in pints, quarts, etc., making it difficult to compare unit pricing.

    I shop the edge, leaving my cart out of the way at the ends of aisles, and getting canned goods, oatmeal, dog food, and other aisle goods as needed. I love the after-holiday sales of seasonally-colored m&ms, etc.

    Here's another topic - coupons. I hate the coupons where I can get savings on 6 cans of dog food during a limited time window. Life's complicated enough without scheduling my purchasing that way. I ask the clerk to throw them out.

    I think I'm pretty resistant to Big Marketing, and the grocery store supplies the foods and staples I want. Unless I'm in a mad rush, I like shopping, I love beautiful bins of fresh fruit & veg., stacks of artisanal breads, tidy rows of canned goods. There are large immigrant populations in my town, so there are very interesting foods at the big grocery stores. Plus, if I have frizzy hair and am wearing paint-spattered clothes, I'll see everybody I know. I wish they had roving clerks selling glasses of wine; that would make it better.
    posted by theora55 at 7:45 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Speaking of piped scents, does anybody know anything about the aroma piped into seemingly every Bed, Bath, & Beyond? I've speculated that it's what Beyond smells like.

    Actually, that's what a migraine smells like.
    posted by Squeak Attack at 7:49 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    Today I learned that European rotisserie chickens drip onto potatoes. I'm going to France next month and I must taste these potatoes.

    You can do this at home with roasted chicken. Cooks Illustrated has a recipe (which I've mentioned before) for a high-heat roasted/butterflied chicken. You put it on a slotted broiler pan and cook the thing in some outrageously short time. The problem is that when the fat drips off the chicken, it smokes like hell in the high temperature. Solution? Line the bottom of the broiler pan with thin slices of potato to soak up the fat.

    Think on that for a minute or two.
    posted by jquinby at 7:52 AM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


    I think I'm pretty resistant to Big Marketing, and the grocery store supplies the foods and staples I want. Unless I'm in a mad rush, I like shopping, I love beautiful bins of fresh fruit & veg., stacks of artisanal breads, tidy rows of canned goods.

    Philip's Enterprises Food Market Designs
    At Phillips Enterprises, we know that the most important factor is presentation. That’s why we take into account the store size, the type of clientele you want to attract and your overall environment to find the way to visually stimulate the consumer. Simple lighting techniques and the flow of departments play a crucial role in how your customers perceive your grocery store. So, we consider all these factors to produce a one-of-a-kind market unlike any other.
    Demonstrated Results
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Everyone thinks they are resistant to Big Marketing. That's partly why it is so effective.
    posted by Ouisch at 8:12 AM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    Jesus, people. "Shop the perimeter" is a useful heuristic. No one's suggesting it's universally true or will fit everyone's particular circumstance.
    posted by downing street memo at 8:17 AM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


    I know this is a bit off topic, but I was driving to Meijers on tuesday and as I was going past Wal Mart, there was a "Wal Mart Shuttle" driving down the road!

    I find this to be amazing. First the city slashes bus routs and hours, and then wal mart fills the gaps with its own services. Talk about libertarianism at its finest.
    posted by rebent at 8:20 AM on April 11, 2013


    Everyone thinks they are resistant to Big Marketing. That's partly why it is so effective.

    ^THIS^

    When people say, "Marketing doesn't work on me," I respond with, "If you can name name brands, regardless of whether or not you're purchasing them or shopping at them, Big Marketing has done its job."
    posted by Kitteh at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    They completely remodeled our local Target. Everything. But when I walk the aisles I still know exactly where I'm standing in the old one and can picture it in my mind easily.

    What's up with that?
    posted by hal9k at 9:03 PM on April 10 [+] [!]


    One thing that I sometime lament is that I still have an intimate knowledge of the layout and item location of the grocery store at which I used to work, even though I left when the store shut down in 2006, and it's is now a Gold's Gym.

    Also, people questioning why anything is an checkout lane impulse buy clearly haven't been to a store still slightly drunk in recent memory.
    posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:27 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I find this to be amazing. First the city slashes bus routs and hours, and then wal mart fills the gaps with its own services. Talk about libertarianism at its finest.

    Heck, they might be using their own customers as "employees" soon.

    I get such a Fallout mission vibe off that. "Take these groceries to Joey Troubador. Down past the radioactive sludge pit. Watch out for the Swampfolk. 25 caps."
    posted by Celsius1414 at 8:31 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    "If you can name name brands, regardless of whether or not you're purchasing them or shopping at them, Big Marketing has done its job."

    I don;t buy this, much in the same way that thoughts that do not lead to actions cannot be said to exist - marketing that does not ultimately lead to purchases cannot be said to exist.

    Then again I'm the weird one who's sole pre-packaged food costs this money is ordering a pizza soooo
    posted by The Whelk at 8:32 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Jesus, people. "Shop the perimeter" is a useful heuristic. No one's suggesting it's universally true or will fit everyone's particular circumstance.

    So, the thing is, I do nutrition, and with the people I work with, it ends up not being a useful heuristic, though I am sure that is how it was originally intended. Because culturally our views about food tend to be very dichotomous, black-and-white, all-or-nothing, good-or-bad, people actually take these guidelines as rules and often develop significant anxiety about them, which can harm their eating. That's where the bulk of my concern lies, not just because I enjoy splitting hairs (though I do.)

    Eating is complex, and I think professionals and anyone giving advice about it would do well to better respect that complexity and take it into account, rather than attempting to boil things down to catchy aphorisms or whatever. Nutrition as a field in general seems disproportionately weighted down with "helpful" heuristics that are sometimes anything but.
    posted by Ouisch at 8:41 AM on April 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


    "I wish they had roving clerks selling glasses of wine; that would make it better."

    I will be shopping at Theora 55 XPress Mart in the future.

    (Also I find the magical way to run into EVERYONE YOU KNOW at the store is to not wear a bra.)

    "Everyone thinks they are resistant to Big Marketing. That's partly why it is so effective."

    (I keep talking about Target in this thread but I swear I only go there every two months or so, partly because when I go to Target I have to BUY ALL THE THINGS and it is bad.) Target just launched a new line of super Pottery-Barny housewares and I got the special launch circular in the mail, and I was flipping through it and I turned to my husband and said, "I love everything in this catalog, and I sort of hate myself for loving it, and I super-hate that Target knows enough about me to to send me this catalog full of things I love, but I am buying this lamp anyway." And now I have a lamp.

    I have very mixed feelings about this because on the one hand, I broke the lamp in that corner two years ago and my room has been REALLY DARK ever since because I could not find a lamp I liked that fit the space at a reasonable price. So on the one hand, Big Marketing did me a favor there by presenting me with a style of things that I liked, that filled an actual need I had. On the other hand, I really don't like that companies have that much data on my preferences. On the third hand, Big Data doesn't know my feelings on Kierkegaard, just lamps, which are not that important. And on the fourth hand, I feel like Phoebe in that episode of Friends where she finds out she loves Pottery Barn and not the quirky original antiques she thought she loved, WHY DO I LIKE THIS SHIT SO MUCH AND WHEN DID I BECOME A PERSON WHO PURCHASES AUTHENTICITY AT MASS RETAILERS AND AAAAAAARGH WHY CAN'T I QUIT YOU POTTERY BARN AND TARGET FAKE LOW-END POTTERY BARN KNOCKOFFS?
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:45 AM on April 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


    I think the "shop the perimeter" thing is more about a quick stop to avoid the 7-11 than a real shopping trip.

    If you're making a quick stop for tinned tomatoes, I recommend some type of "sprint-combat roll-sprint" strategy.
    posted by Trochanter at 8:52 AM on April 11, 2013


    Bread companies have been stocking their own shelves for ages.

    Indeed.

    What I want to know is, why have all my local grocery stores, and Target, narrowed their aisles so much that two of their own carts can't pass each other? I mean, yeah, you get a little more shelf space, but it makes for a lot of grumpy customers.
    posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:22 AM on April 11, 2013


    No one's suggesting it's universally true or will fit everyone's particular circumstance.

    There've been a couple comments that do actually sound like they are, though....
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on April 11, 2013


    (Side note why is everything in Pottery Barn SO FREAKING HUGE. That's not a dining table it's a blue-water ship! You could comfortably fit all my remaining living family members on that couch! What the hell people?)
    posted by The Whelk at 9:25 AM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    Because, Whelk, it is so obviously geared towards people whose homes could swallow ours and the tables are there to make us feel bad about that. :)
    posted by Kitteh at 9:27 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    You buy the big house so it can hold the big furniture. Then you buy the big furniture so it fits your big house.
    posted by 2bucksplus at 9:40 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    the larger it is the more work it is to clean! Why do that to yourself!
    posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    the larger it is the more work it is to clean! Why do that to yourself!

    Because if you have a house that big, odds are you are not cleaning it yourself.
    posted by Kitteh at 9:54 AM on April 11, 2013


    I think I misspoke earlier, the Target near me DOES have frozen food on the edges, but I think it's all chicken fingers, and that sort of thing. Our Sprouts is where the frozen organic stuff is on the edges. Man do I love Sprouts (not as much as the company they absorbed, but it's still good) it: has basic grocery items like flour, the kind of stuff that Trader Joe's never carried; has an actual bulk foods section (can't think of anywhere else that still does); has decent enough produce; and it's not Whole Foods, so prices are reasonable. Oh and it's an actual grocery store, not huge everything store, so the people actually know about food. Even the cashiers.

    Anyway, I've been thinking about how a couple of a little comments spawned this whole discussion of eating rotisserie chicken while only shopping from the edges in a counter-clockwise circuit. I think the problem is that the people who are involved in online conversations about store layouts are the kind of people who actually put thought into what they buy and eat. As, Oiusch pointed out eating is complex, AND it's very personal. By extension, so is shopping for the stuff we eat. Looking back, I think one of the trickiest parts of getting used to living with my wife was synthesizing our eating and shopping habits, and after 9 years, we've almost got it figured out. That's not even getting into the class issues that always lay in the shadows when you're talking about food, which are a big and hairy beast by their own right. So, when you get a big a group of people talking about something like how you shop, and try and reduce the "Right way" of doing it down to a sentence, you're probably going to get some push-back.

    I mean, I've got thinking about and making food cred like some of you wouldn't believe. Of the meat I eat every year, probably 85% is something I saw and before it died, and of that a good 66% is stuff that I was involved in every step of the transition of animal to food. I've got fats from 3 or 4 species animals that I rendered down for cooking. I make my own flavored vinegars for salads. From berries me and my wife picked. I read books about things like the history of the Tomato in Italian cooking. I am aware however, that I can only do that kind of thing because I live my life, with all the luxuries and circumstances involved. I don't think of less of anyone because they don't have a hook-up with a guy that raises pigs on a very small scale, or don't go hunt, or whatever. I'm home all day, I've got time to render down fat, or bake bread, or any of the other things I do because I can and have the space to store the stuff. Other people don't. That's O.k.

    I think if you're thinking about what you eat, you're already WAY ahead of the game, no matter if you follow my stupid list of things that I think lead to better (or healthier, or whatever) food.
    posted by Gygesringtone at 10:02 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    You're doing it wrong. Non-perishables are almost always much more expensive at a grocery store than at a general merchandiser like Target or Costco.

    Not really so much, at least where I am.
    The grocery store non-perishables are often regularly priced higher than Costco, but every week, the sale item is the same price (or cheaper than) Costco. So, as long as you aren't too brand specific, it works out even.

    Target is way overpriced for all of the grocery store items (food and non-food). We do not, however, have a Super Target (full grocery + department store), it's a No So Super Target (recently remodeled to add a tiny grocery section), maybe that makes the difference?

    There's also a Wal*Mart across the street from the Target, but I've never been in it, so I'm not sure what the prices are like.

    Don't get me wrong, I like Costco and regularly get certain items there, but like anything else, you need to shop carefully and watch the per unit costs.
    posted by madajb at 10:15 AM on April 11, 2013


    The geography of the supermarket reminded me of, when I was a kid, we'd go over to England and they'd have what amounted to one way mazes in the stores.

    There would be one entrance, and then the aisles were blocked so you had to proceed up and down in a linear fashion before it dumped you at the exit.
    I seem to recall Boots were like this, so maybe it was just pharmacies.

    Do they still have that?
    posted by madajb at 10:21 AM on April 11, 2013


    Wow, that came across more sanctimonious in the second bit than I meant it, here's take two:

    We all have to work out a system of eating and shopping that works for us as individuals in unique circumstances. The people that put thought into it probably have a better (for them) system then the ones who don't.
    posted by Gygesringtone at 10:38 AM on April 11, 2013


    Y...yes, incredibly sanctimonious. I was with you until you went off-the-rails full-on Martha Stewart "Rotisserie? Pah, I hunt my own pheasants with blow darts I carved from my backyard bamboo forest".
    I got me a toaster, some strawberry pop tarts, a bag of english muffins, a pyramidal stack of Vegemite jars, a knife, and 3 terabytes of instrument sample libraries. Lock the door, I'll be good in here. Circumstances indeed!
    posted by jake at 10:58 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    (I keep forgetting to visit Sprouts, I was in there once and was all "DUDE THIS PLACE RULES" and never went back! Because TJ's is on the way home and I'm a huge dildo) :(
    posted by jake at 10:59 AM on April 11, 2013


    I was with you until you went off-the-rails full-on Martha Stewart "Rotisserie? Pah, I hunt my own pheasants with blow darts I carved from my backyard bamboo forest".

    Yeah, the point I was trying to make wasn't that I'm great for doing this, and you all can be forgiven for not being as great as me. It was that we're all in unique situations, so one size fits all advice on as touchy a subject as food is going to raise some hackles. Here's my especially unique situation to illustrate that. I really really failed to make that point. Oh well, it won't be the first stupid thing I've said on the internet, and probably won't be the last.

    Yeah, Sprouts is great, there's a few things of their brand (candy bars for instance) that are a little off, but for the most part it's exactly what I want in a grocery store. And they have Rotisserie Chickens which, in my opinion, are a thing of beauty and joy.
    posted by Gygesringtone at 11:15 AM on April 11, 2013


    Gygesringtone, I actually did understand what it was you were trying to say. (If it helps.)
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:24 AM on April 11, 2013


    The thing that I don't get about "shop the perimeter" is why anyone thinks it's valid.

    I've been hearing that advice for most of my life, and my basic assumption is that all the marketing and strategic people who work for grocery stores have heard it too.

    Which, to me, means with nearly 100% certainty that the stores are actively working to counter it.

    Of course, this puts me into the position of trying to figure out what they know I know that they know I know, and I can no longer shop anywhere in the store except the bathroom because it is NOT SAFE and also the eyes follow you.

    But you can't take your items in the bathrooms, so actually I don't go to stores any more and I am in fact typing this from inside a Faraday cage made out of empty Frito bags and getting daily deliveries of rotisserie chickens.
    posted by scrump at 11:32 AM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


    I'd have to agree with you, scrump, at least at my store. On the perimeter of my grocery, you can find, yes, fresh veggies, dairy, eggs, bread and bakery items, and fresh meat/fish...and also the pop aisle, the chips and candy, the ice cream, and every frozen dinner known to man, as well as hot dogs and cured meats and fancy deli cheese, and the hot deli items like the now-notorious rotisserie chicken. So I think that particular piece of advice has lost even more of its intended value over time.
    posted by Ouisch at 12:00 PM on April 11, 2013


    It's just hitting me that I don't think I've ever actually had rotisserie chicken.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:13 PM on April 11, 2013


    It's so good. I'm not sure what I like more, the delicious grease or the salty seasoning, or the greasy skin with the salty seasoning.
    posted by KokuRyu at 12:21 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Yeah, somebody earlier in the thread was talking like the salt and grease was a bad thing. No comprendo?
    posted by Justinian at 1:16 PM on April 11, 2013


    Alright, so after reading the whole thread and reflecting on my "you're doing it wrong" comment above, a few concessions:

    1) The "doing it wrong" comment was trite and glib and not conducive to the discussion.
    2) Shopping, and by extension eating, is an intensely personal human function. It should be judgment-free, and any debate without thought risks inciting anger.
    3) No heuristic will apply to 100% of circumstances.

    With those concessions in mind, I can say that in my specific case, shopping the perimeter has made all the difference. Before I was married, I used to eat like your standard Single American Male - lots of frozen convenience food and quick-prep meals in a box. My lovely bride showed me that eating fresh foods helps me maintain a healthy body weight. (Plus, preparing a meal together is Excellent Quality Time that we don't get if we jam a Stouffer's meal in the microwave and shove it home in front of the teevee.) So for me, shopping the perimeter - fresh food and veggies, quality meats and seafood, dairy, bakery - represents what one post above called a "useful heuristic." It's not a be-all and end-all; I still need frozen veg and pasta and spices and baking needs, etc., but for basic meal prep it works for us the majority of the time.

    I was also thinking of this in the context of inner-city food deserts, where many people in my city only have access to groceries from neighborhood quick-stops and a really crappy Kroger that has loads of packaged food and little in the way of fresh items, the kind you largely find "around the perimeter." I think we can all agree that fresher items prepared at home, if made available to their budgets, would represent an improvement in the daily diet for many lower-income Americans.
    posted by OHSnap at 2:12 PM on April 11, 2013


    This is the best rotisserie chicken thread I have ever seen.

    In my notional best grocery store ever, I would combine the cereal-mascots-staring-into-your-soul with the rotisserie chicken impulse extravaganza, so you have rotisserie chickens with the heads (and thus eyes) still on. You could have some kind of counterweighted ball-bearing mechanism whereby the dead and variously raw to fully-cooked chicken heads would swivel as they rotate, ensuring that their eyes are always locked onto yours, the impulse buyer. Even better if each one emits a little "wheeEEEEeeeEEEE!" as they go round. Or maybe just one continuous unified scream, a synchronized chorus of fifteen to twenty chicken screams, all in beautiful union, as they rotate ever on, ever on.
    posted by Kafkaesque at 2:27 PM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    I'm not sure what I like more, the delicious grease or the salty seasoning, or the greasy skin with the salty seasoning.

    I myself am partial to the salty grease with the skin seasoning. Deee-licious!
    posted by palomar at 2:28 PM on April 11, 2013


    In an effort to cut my grocery bills given the insane quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables my family eats, I recently started shopping at Cash and Carry, which is a restaurant supply grocery store. The experience was. . . initially pretty jarring, in part because there kind of is no marketing. Well, maybe there is, but it's really different than normal. The food comes in big cardboard boxes with a very readable label on the outside edge (for the frozen stuff) or is stacked up on pallets (for the fresh stuff), no attractive displays or pseudo-hand-lettered chalk signs. The whole store is set up for someone who knows exactly what they want and just wants to go in and get it and get out.

    As a result, it can be kind of intimidating, because if you DON'T know what you want, it's not really that discoverable. Like, the frozen section, it says POULTRY and then under that is just box after box that says FULLY COOKED BNLS SKNLS CHIK BR GRILL MARKS ADDED 6 OZ and IQF FRYER PARTS and 10/4 B/S THIGH MEAT. There is no upselling, no glamorizing, no fancifying, just five gallon buckets that say LARD and MSG and WHIPPED DESSERT TOPPING and CLEAR FRY OIL. The produce section is just pallets and shipping boxes full of 50 lb bags of potatoes or onions or cabbages, with one box torn open and a per-unit price written on it in marker. The employees are friendly and helpful, but not solicitous -- they will totally ignore you unless you chase them down and ask them a question.

    I love the place. And not just because a ten pound sack of potatoes is $1.33.
    posted by KathrynT at 2:33 PM on April 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


    Wait, maybe you could work in other carnival-type rides for the dead chickens to go on! Your dead, head-on chicken could arrive to you via a log flume that extends the length of the store. You'd wait at the "splash zone" for the next car to come flying down the steep descent, stuffed with four rotisserie chickens.

    For extra money, you could purchase a photo of your rotisserie chicken just pre-drop, having the time of its life with three of its buddies, all destined for glory.
    posted by Kafkaesque at 2:38 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I think I'm pretty resistant to Big Marketing, and the grocery store supplies the foods and staples I want. Unless I'm in a mad rush, I like shopping, I love beautiful bins of fresh fruit & veg., stacks of artisanal breads, tidy rows of canned goods.

    I knew I wasn't as resistant to marketing as I would like, but the recent major reorganization of my chief supermarket (followed by a second minor reorganization in the same month) showed me forcefully just how much I rely on my habits to shop efficiently and knowledgeably at the supermarket.

    At farmers' markets and smaller groceries and specialty stores, I take my time, survey what's available, buy on impulse or come up with new recipes on the spot. At the supermarket, I enter with a list (that is written roughly in order of the aisles), eliminate items from the list as I encounter them if the price is too high this week or the quality too low, and I know where everything is, so I can buzz through quickly. (The Fella does much more impulse shopping, so we always end up with a mix of planned staples and unplanned treats.)

    But when they rearranged all the aisles, my supermarket-shopping routine went to hell for a few months while I flailed around trying to figure out what was were. It was hard even to compose a list since I write it in order, and I no longer knew the order of the goods in the aisles. Minor, but very frustrating, and I'm sure they did it in large part because it drives customers like me out of our comfortable rut of buying only what we already know we want.

    Plus, if I have frizzy hair and am wearing paint-spattered clothes, I'll see everybody I know.

    I have seen you at the supermarket a couple of times (once you didn't see me waving as I left) and you always look lovely. One of these days, I'm going to hide in the back of your car and make you take me to wherever you get your hair cut. I will not really hide in the back of your car. Probably.
    posted by Elsa at 2:40 PM on April 11, 2013


    I recently started shopping at Cash and Carry...

    Aw man, they're all in NoCal and parts north. Anybody know of an equivalent in the LA area?
    posted by Celsius1414 at 3:46 PM on April 11, 2013


    Oh, and I've also been surfing childhood memories of my grandmother making probably a whole chicken every week or two on our home rotisserie - one of those small electrical versions. It usually sat cooking away on top of the dryer just off the kitchen.

    As I was on dishes duty, I will never forget how much of a pain in the ass it was to clean all the metal parts, the spit, the skewers, the drippings tray. It was a big greasy mess that you couldn't just put in the dishwasher without doing a bunch of prep work first. I can feel the greasiness on my fingers as I type, which is disconcerting. ;D

    That said, the chicken was really good.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 3:51 PM on April 11, 2013


    Anybody know of an equivalent in the LA area?

    It's not like Cash & Carry with the giant boxes of restaurant supplies but I've been finding decent stuff at Grocery Outlet, which are in SoCal. The forums at Chowhound often have useful tips on what to look for at GO.
    posted by jamaro at 4:32 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    The Grocery Outlet can be great, but it's not nicknamed the Gross-Out for nothing -- check the expiration dates on everything you buy. EVERYTHING. (And freeze grains and dried beans for 24 hours when you get them home, says my husband who had to clean out our pantry moth infestation.)
    posted by KathrynT at 5:24 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Also, try the Restaurant Depot.
    posted by KathrynT at 5:26 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    cantdealwithit.gif
    posted by 2bucksplus at 5:51 PM on April 11, 2013


    If you ever spent some time checking out the mannequins in a department store, realize now they're checking you out too.

    How stores spy on you: Many retailers are snooping more than ever
    posted by homunculus at 6:22 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Oh yeah, yes definitely check the expiry dates on all GO stuff and also keep in mind they take returns if an item turns out to be stale or spoiled. I've returned several things (most recently a partially consumed box of cinnamon brown sugar organic poptarts that I've otherwise only seen carried by Whole Foods) and it's been completely hassle free.
    posted by jamaro at 8:44 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Anything similar in toronto area? Can a regular person just waltz in?
    posted by windykites at 9:36 PM on April 11, 2013


    There almost certainly is; my little city of 80K people has such a place.
    posted by Mitheral at 5:39 AM on April 12, 2013


    "Anything similar in toronto area? Can a regular person just waltz in?"

    Try "restaurant supply" or "food service supply" in the yellow pages or google ... some of them will be equipment-only, but that's usually where you'll also find listings for food stores catering to restaurants. Many (most?) are open to the public (around here if you're a business you give them your tax ID and you pay wholesale instead of retail taxes or something; if you're a regular person you just pay normal retail tax). The store I go to here is also their regional distribution office where restaurants can place orders for direct truck delivery ... which means they usually have an extensive catalog of stuff that ISN'T in the store but that they'll happily order for delivery to the store for you.

    The hours are a little different than most stores because they're catering to the restaurant trade and not regular shoppers, so I have to remember to check (especially on weekend mornings) because I can never remember what the opening hours are. The sorts of things they stock in the store are interesting because it's geared towards what restaurants or caterers or institutional cafeterias might need to pick up last second.

    It is a little intimidating at first but the staff are all really knowledgeable, and will tell you things like what sorts of things families particularly like to buy, or what day fresh veggies come in. I've also half-self-catered some parties I threw, and they were really helpful with how many frozen appetizers I'd need and which ones worked well in a home oven and what fruit trays were most popular and helped me order it all in advance and they held it at the store so I could pick it up the day before since I didn't have an industrial fridge.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:45 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


    Healthy, Affordable Fast Food: Feminism's Holy Grail, Emily Matchar, The Atlantic, 12 April 2013
    posted by ob1quixote at 10:56 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


    My conclusion is that people think about rotisserie chickens a lot more than you'd expect.

    “Cheap chicken, cheap shirts, cheap sneakers — they’re all being paid for by somebody, even if it’s not the person taking them home. Why? one reason is that we're incredibly cruel to chickens. Another is that we lower labor costs by using illegal immigrants in processing factories. Another is that our agricultural policy subsidizes the grains that go into chicken feed. Another is that we don't price carbon." ~ Ellen Ruppel Shell (Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture)
    posted by Lanark at 6:21 AM on April 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


    Those Costco rotisserie chickens do look good, but -- and I'm embarrassed to be asking this -- how do you reheat them? If I were to buy one it would be in the late morning, and I would want it for dinner. Which seems to be defeating the purpose...
    posted by The corpse in the library at 10:24 AM on April 13, 2013


    I love cold chicken, Corpse. I'll often buy a rotisserie bird just to let it cool and have it later.

    I'm guessing, though, that if you wrapped it in foil and stuck it in the oven for a half hour, you wouldn't totally destroy it.
    posted by Trochanter at 10:38 AM on April 13, 2013


    The corpse in the library: Those Costco rotisserie chickens do look good, but -- and I'm embarrassed to be asking this -- how do you reheat them?
    There are almost certainly reheating instructions printed right on the package or label. If not, the Internet is chock-a-block with tips and recipes for reheating and using your rotisserie chicken.
    posted by ob1quixote at 12:27 PM on April 13, 2013


    So I tried the DDR Broiler chicken recipe linked in flug's comment. It was not bad but certainly no comparison to supermarket rotisserie chicken. Though I did follow the pan cooking instructions and the skin didn't turn out very crisp. I'm going to give it another go and next time toss the chicken pieces in my rotisserie basket on the BBQ.

    jquinby: "You can do this at home with roasted chicken. Cooks Illustrated has a recipe (which I've mentioned before) for a high-heat roasted/butterflied chicken. You put it on a slotted broiler pan and cook the thing in some outrageously short time. The problem is that when the fat drips off the chicken, it smokes like hell in the high temperature. Solution? Line the bottom of the broiler pan with thin slices of potato to soak up the fat."

    Dang it behind a paywall; but I imagine the concept is enough to get one started.
    posted by Mitheral at 7:23 PM on April 13, 2013


    I have a largish toaster oven and throw the rotisserie chicken from Costco in there for half an hour at the lowest temperature. To be followed by stripping and boiling the carcass for delicious chicken soup. Yum.

    Also Costco related, one of the Costcos near us (we are blessed) has a restaurant supply section. It is very, very large.
    posted by bq at 9:52 AM on April 14, 2013


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