Friday, December 23, 2005

Meijer and the competition

I've always suspected it. I've heard the underground stories, the myths, urban legends, the get the idea. but I never truly believed, perhaps not believing was a defense mechanism, a way to protect myself and my delicate grocery reality.

you see for Christmas vacation, I've ventured beyond the mid-west Meijer territory and have entered the eastern state's, non-union grocery store nirvana known as Wegmans.

Wegmans. let the name roll around your tongue and palate. go ahead breathe through your nose as you feel the bouquet waft through your sinuses--Wegmans, Wegmans and ahhh, Wegmans. no spitting please.

where do I begin, produce? it's a massive produce section with digital scales and print your-own upc labels. the inviting area is dotted with sincerely smiling "What do you need? I can get you whatever you need..." produce associates. do I dazzle you with the "food court" (that moniker seems too cheap and tawdry for the reality) fresh made-in-front-of-you hoagies, chinese, italian, sushi, a salad bar that would shame most grocery store's produce sections.

how about the bakery--not the defrost the frozen mounds of dough and slap some frosting on it "warming area"--but an actual bakery with mounds of multi-flavored bagels, bagettes, donuts, loaves, muffins, croissants, I'm going into carb melt-down as I write.

oh! did you know that Paul Newman makes cookies? what about salsa and olive oil? did you know that he makes more than 2 kinds of salad dressing? see, this is how Meijer keeps the little grocery shopper down--withholding product opportunities! who are they to decide that I only want to see Paul's face on balsamic vinegar and/or parmesan ranch? where's the ACLU when you really need them?

do they have a deli? you ask in a simple country mouse squeak. would you pull your hair out in a jealous fit if I said I died and went to deli heaven? stacks and stacks of meats, cheeses (plural!), olive bar, fresh sausages, smoked this and that, roasted hens & ducks...they didn't even flinch when I spun around in a Mary Tyler Moore-esque spin of joy, I guess they get that a lot.

the service at the deli counter was astounding. finally a staff that doesn't appear to detest their job and are secretly hoping the meat slicer will put them out of their misery. boisterous number calling with a jocular greeting and "you've got it ma'am!" I didn't tempt fate but I listened to the natives quizzing the deli attendants about freshness, cooking times, even recipes!

I could go on, but perhaps like me you are feeling overwhelmed. I live in union grocery territory and I will only have the bitter-sweet (did I mention the international chocolate section) memories of the competition. I wonder if anyone in the east is interested in an opportunity cost trade-off--my MI $.10 bottle return for a few groceries each month. I feel a kramer and neuman moment coming on...

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