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Confessions of a Grocery Store Snob

Flowers, pottery, and fruit in fancy baskets - my kind of grocery store! (© Andrew Dunn)

A few weeks ago, I finally admitted it out loud.  I’m a grocery store snob.  I absolutely love the “high-end” grocery stores, like Wegmans in the north and Harris Teeter down south.  I love their bakeries, the coffee shops, the flower shops.  I can choose from buffet lines of prepared Chinese food, Italian food, gourmet pizzas, subs and other delights.  I love the gift shops in these grocery stores, where I have purchased (very nice) birthday, anniversary and graduation gifts. 

So when my husband decided to abandon my adored store for the cheaper one down the street, I really dug in my heels.  I was not going to leave this wondrous store that I had shopped at for decades.  But the harsh reality was that the store down the street offers a major discount on gasoline with every purchase, and it’s hard to argue with filling the tank at more than a dollar per gallon off the price on the pumps. 

I decided early on that I didn’t like the new store (Price Chopper).  Instead of being greeted with a gleaming produce department overflowing with choices, the first thing to greet me in the new store is a wall of super-sweet coffee cakes, danishes, and desserts.  It’s sort of like being greeted by the tempting, good looking, dangerous guy you know is bad for you, instead of his wholesome, fresh-faced farmer cousin.  

On my first few visits to the new place, all I did was complain to Hubby as we shopped.  My store had more choices.  I liked my produce section better.  The aisles in his store were too narrow.  I didn’t like the shelving.  They didn’t have my shampoo.  I couldn’t find anything easily, so I didn’t like the layout.  It was too crowded, and I frankly didn’t like the looks of the clientele.  I didn’t even like the other cars I saw in the parking lot.  In my delusional mind, we were “slumming”.  I turned up my nose at everything. 

If I had to stop for something on my way home, I always went to my store, insisting that I could find things more quickly, and I just liked it better.  But after continual scolding from Hubby, and reminders of how much gas money I could have saved with each purchase if I’d gone to his store, I started feeling guilty.  And then I discovered something interesting one night as I shopped at my store.  There were products that I’d discovered at his store that my wonder-store didn’t carry!  How could that be?  My luxury grocery store was supposed to be perfect!  But they are also so large that they’ve pushed some popular brands off the shelves in order to sell more of their own store brands.  And I knew that – I’d even emailed them a few years ago to complain about it. 

So now that my eyes (and mind) were finally opening just a bit, I begrudgingly decided I needed to give the new store another chance.  I went shopping there alone so that I wouldn’t be influenced by my urge to disagree with Hubby (anyone who’s married knows what I mean).  Hmmm.  The first thing I noticed was that our five-year-old truck with its mis-matched fiberglass repair to the grill from where Hubby hit a deer actually looked right at home with the other vehicles in the parking lot of the new store.  In fact, I saw a fair share of very nice cars parked there (nicer than the truck, at least).     

While I still don’t like the temptation of the nasty sugar- and fat-laden junk food in the entrance way, there was a very nice produce department inside the doors.  So maybe it was like a test – walk past the junk, and be rewarded with the healthy bounty just beyond it.  And I found the fruit cocktails I’d come to love (the ones my fancy store didn’t carry).  And look – they had a bakery, too!  The stuff actually looked pretty good.  And over in the corner was a small coffee shop and dining area.  Why hadn’t I noticed that before?  The seafood area was far more impressive than at my luxury store (if a bit smellier), and I was forced to admit to myself that this store has always had a reputation for having the best meats in town. 

As I continued shopping, I tried to set aside my snobby attitude (hey, I’m not proud of it, but at least I recognize it!).  Okay, the paper products are in the first aisle instead of the last – is that really a big deal?  Of course not.  Yes, the aisles are more narrow than in my store, but it’s not that bad.  I can deal with it, although it remains my main pet peeve with the store.  I finally found their natural foods section, and it was impressive.  The frozen section appears much larger than in my store, and guess what?  There are more choices!  Hmmm again. 

And then I checked out at the register, and discovered that my shopping had just brought our gasoline discount up to a $1.20 per gallon.  My eyebrows shot up a bit, and I smiled back at the friendly checkout clerk.  I could get used to this. 

It was an eye-opener.  I have to admit that I was wrong (I hate that).  The new store is just fine, especially now that I’m more familiar with it.  It may not have a forty foot display of apples of twenty different varieties like the old store, but frankly, that much selection can be completely overwhelming.  It is more efficient to shop at Hubby’s store (dang it).  There may be a handful of products that they don’t carry that I really want, like my haircare product line. 

But then again, I can use that as an excuse to stop by the luxury shop every 5 – 6 weeks for old times sake.  Yes, it’s still very nice.  Yes, I do enjoy looking at all the pretty and exotic products they carry, but they aren’t saving me a buck a gallon on gasoline.  It is a nice place to visit, and I will do that occasionally, kinda like a tourist.  But I know now without a doubt that I am really a pathetic grocery store snob, and I really need to get over it.

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