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Monday, August 4, 2008

Grocery Shopping with Tina Turner

Reading Wendy's post about Bad Times, I was trying to think of what the Bad Times stores are that I know of.

Here's a little summary from Wendy:

What constitutes Bad Times? It’s not just bad service or poor merchandise selection. It’s almost never a single thing that can be isolated and remedied. No, it’s an elaborate matrix of factors that make you miserable practically every single fucking time you shop there.

Bad Times conditions produce varying results within a consistent pattern of badness. Your shopping cart gets swiped. You wait in line and then the line closes. They’re inexplicably all out of water, or candy, or something amazing like that. Everything you need is available only in some horrifyingly wrong form, size and/or quantity, i.e., tampons which come in boxes of two hundred and are the super-ultra-maximum kind with scented musical applicators. The ATM is down, always. You’re lost in the aisles and the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is playing. So many things around you suck to distraction that you forget half the things you meant to get, and you stumble home defeated and with the distinct sense that none of this bullshit would have happened if only you’d gone to the other Jewel or Walgreens or Osco or Dominck’s. Bad Times stores are the ones you find yourself going out of the way to avoid for one reason or another. Sometimes you can articulate why, sometimes you can’t.

And then it dawned on me: It's my Weis. My Weis that I visit at least once a week unless I go to Miller's or out of my way to the heavenly Westminster Safeway, is a Bad Times store. It's been a nagging feeling that I've had for a while now and I can only truly articulate it now that I've read Wendy's article. Let me describe.

The one major issue is that when I visit my Weis, I want to beat myself in the head with a hammer. I feel like I cannot make it out of there faster and I feel INSANE just being in that store. Why? The music. The music is HORRIBLE. They recently remodeled (and I had thought things would get better). Before the remodeling, the music was bubblegum 1950's golden oldies. "Mr. Sandman," "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen," "Chapel of Love" are all great examples. They would play a song (and remember these songs are only like a minute and a half long), and then play a little jingle-tune and announce some in-store announcements about the produce department or specials (always pre-recorded and it played over and over and over). And the volume was LOUD. I would rush and not finish my shopping sometimes in order to get out of there.

After the remodel, there was a slight improvement. The music is now 70s/80s light rock, with the same jingle and announcements, but less frequently. There was one really good day where everything they played was tolerable (Paul Simon's "Call Me Al" for example). Then, one day three weeks ago or so, they played Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It" and I have not been the same since. That song was in my head for the entire rest of the night. Even now, weeks later and having been in there a few more times, that song will pop into my head randomly. I'll be at work or driving in my car or RUNNING and suddenly I'm wondering who needs a heart when a heart can be broken. It even pops into my head AT WEIS, even though Weis might be playing Roxette's "Joyride" at the time (another HORROR). I'm starting to wonder if I should wear earplugs when I shop there.

The music isn't the only issue. There's the deli. I used to feel that Weis had a wonderful deli, but not anymore. I can start my shopping at 4:30pm, when they're fairly empty, and there will inevitably be 3-4 people in line at the deli counter. The entire store of customers seems to sometimes be lined up at the deli counter, with one pour soul back there taking everyone's orders, and 3-4 employees standing back there either cleaning or chit chatting. Last week, I couldn't figure out why the employee wasn't helping me and the other guy there and it was because she was helping some woman who had wandered in to order what appeared to be 7 pounds of sliced American Cheese. If it wasn't for Todd, I'd avoid the deli all together, but I tried buying him non-deli lunch meat once and it was not taken well. If I skip it and plan to come back when it's less crowded, I find myself not doing it so that I can escape the horrible music and Weis jingles playing over the loudspeakers. So, sometimes he gets no lunch meat at all, and he just looks sadly into the grocery bags when I get home and I have to reply, "I hate the deli."

At least things aren't as bad as they were DURING the remodel, when I went in one day and there was no frozen food section at all (totally weird), and I ended up having to go down to the OTHER Weis in Hampstead. The "other" Hampstead Weis is at the other end of town and if you stay in the produce section, it's nice, but if you leave the produce section... I always get the feeling that the snack food and soda aisles take up the majority of the store. I don't get it, it's just that something seems weird about that store, like there is a larger amount of convenience and snack foods there than in other grocery stores, or like it's just a larger-sized 7-11.

So, what do I even do? The only other local store is Miller's, which is an awesome store, but just doesn't have the selection to sustain my shopping habits long term. Plus, I overbuy red meat when I'm there because they have awesome meats. There's the Giant near my work (that used to be my main shopping store when I lived in Owings Mills), but it's gone downhill and has become Bad Times (I won't go into it). The best store in the area is the Safeway in Westminster, which, as I've said, is too far out of my way (but gives me warm-fuzzies just thinking about it).

Sigh.

I guess I'll go to Weis with my ear plugs in and a potential 30-minute wait at the deli counter, but I'm sure that I'll still leave wondering what's love, but a second hand emotion. Oh well.

More later... I have to talk about my weekend, which was about as shitty as it gets.

10 comments:

Nick said...

Have you tried Wegman's yet?

Kim said...

Ah, Wegmans. I didn't mention Wegmans.

Yes, Wegmans is great. They have an awesome variety of produce and meats and bakery items. The store is huge and you can find anything you want there. But, it is imperfect. Here's why:

1. It, too, is out of my way. Now, I drive by it frequently, usually once a week, on my way to the NCR trail to run. However, going to the trail it's too early (I can't shop at 4am), and going home I smell and I am hungry and I want my egg mcmuffin from the McDonald's in Hampstead (where the girl that works there Saturday mornings is starting to really get to know us), and Wegman's is not an option.

2. It is too crowded. Everyone loves Wegmans. Even if you make it into the store, you find yourself having accidental collisions with other carts, waiting in line to pick up a gallon of milk, etc. The worst part is the parking lot, where you drive around and finally find a space out by the light rail and the store itself is just a dot on the horizon that you have to walk to for ages.

3. It's expensive. Enough said on that.

4. It's just TOO MUCH. I like to shop at Miller's market sometimes because it has such a small selection, I know I won't impulse buy and I won't spend forever in there because there are really only 5 aisles in the store. Wegman's is like grocery shopping on steroids. Even if I just want to buy apples, I have to stand there for 20 minutes deciding which kind from the 40 different varieties that they regularly stock.

So, no. Wegmans not that great for regular shopping, it's a special trip.

Mary said...

yeah, Wegman's is way the hell out of the way unless you actually live in Hunt Valley. At some point, one is supposed to come to Columbia as well, which makes me optimistic that it might become reasonable to shop in one except on special occasions.

I thought it was interesting that you find Wegman's to be expensive. I've never found it to be so unless I got distracted by the fancy cheese section or the olive bar. That may be more a factor of Wegman's being in an expensive area of Baltimore County than anything else.

Kim said...

I could be wrong about prices, and keep in mind that I've only done a full grocery trip at Wegman's once. I also have a tendency to get distracted by gourmet things... sucks.

My understanding is that people are against Wegman's coming to Columbia, which I don't even begin to understand. Columbia residents seem like PERFECT Wegman's shoppers.

Here's a blog about it

Wacky Neighbor said...

My Bad Times store is Wal-Mart. I really dislike the local Wal-Mart: not just on all of the other myriad reasons not to like Wal-Mart, but it's just a depressing place to shop and the employees are mostly either dead behind the eyes, rude (I once almost was runover by a giant cart of something in the garden section and was sneered at to "Watch out!"), or generally unhelpful. And the lines are always slow, even if they're short. Yes, I still go there as needed, but it's never pleasant.

As for Wegman's: I can't figure out the general opposition to Wegman's in Columbia, other than that this is what people do. My impression of limited trips to Wegman's is that the prices are comparable overall, but that they have more high-end stuff that tends to make the costs go up. Supposedly a Wegman's is coming to Frederick, too.

Kim said...

I should note that Wegman's is not a Bad Times store by any stretch. It is just too far out of my way and too much of a hassle to try and shop there, even if shopping there might make me happy (I feel the same way about the Heavenly Safeway in Westminster, although I do go to that Safeway occasionally... maybe I'll go there this week, in fact).

Anyway... Todd has the same feeling about the Walmart in Westmister as you feel about yours. He HATES it, and although we once found a really awesome flower pot there that was shaped like a giant coffee mug, we tend to stick to the Hampstead Walmart. I still avoid all Walmarts like the plague, but that Walmart is also the closest Red Box to us. I think the only Walmart I've ever really liked is the one in Owings Mills. The one in Columbia (Dobbin Road) sucked even when it was brand new. I don't think it's possible to leave a Walmart without feeling like you need a shower, but they do have great prices on sweat pants and shirts that you can feel free to throw away at the start of a marathon.

foxdeath said...

I don't know what you guys are talking about... I love Tina Turner AND Michael Bolton. For me, nothing is better than "When a Man Loves a Woman."

Now get me my lunchmeat woman...

Nick said...

My bad times store is indeed Wal-Mart. And it's not because of the employees, its the screaming kids. I swear people shut your damn children up! I am a single bachelor who is merely looking for a single item and I do not need to hear the spine-shattering scream that your three year old will make because you won't buy them the newest damn action figure!

Ahem, and I never seem to have that problem at Target...even though it's owned by the French.

Kim said...

Target's not owned by the French - it's based in Minneapolis. I've been to its headquarters and had a friend who worked there (at the HQ, not in a store).

Nick said...

you are right, but AXA does own 42 millions shares. However this is not enough to control the company. My apologies to the good people at Target.

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