Wednesday, March 5, 2008

you get what you pay for...

i’ve commented before that kristin & i do the majority of our grocery shopping at whole foods & central market; probably 75% at whole foods & 20% at central market. the other 5% of grocery shopping is done at HEB & just recently we ventured back to costco.

last week i made a quick pit stop at the HEB in the arboretum after a workout & prior to picking up
firebowl for dinner. it’s never a good thing to send me into a grocery store for just a few things especially after a good gym workout because i’m super hungry & i start making impulse buys left & right. the normal trip to HEB includes cat litter, cereal, a particular type of oat meal, a particular type of figs & prunes (can get the prunes at costco now), protein shakes (can also get at costco now instead) & a handful of other canned goods & pastas that are the same ones at whole foods & central market but about a 1/3 of the cost.

where i feel the most pain of going to a grocery store like HEB is at the check-out area. lines are long, people look miserable, cashiers are not friendly or very intelligent, the check-out lines are laced with trash magazines & candy crap, & what really got me the other night is their inability to bag your damn grocery somewhat correctly!

my first taxable job was sacking (call it bagging if you want) groceries at a tom thumb page grocery store (same store is called
randalls here in austin) in garland. we weren’t called baggers or sackers either – they called us courtesy clerks :) anyhow, i was a damn good courtesy clerk too! we were allowed to accept tips back then & i would pocket $20 bucks on most days. back then it seemed everyone wanted their groceries taken to their vehicle for them – these days i rarely see someone having their groceries carried out for them. i knew who the BIG tippers ($2 bucks) were & i made it a point to take extra special care of those customers. i would tell all the ladies how great their dresses, hair, shoes, etc. look. most of the time i was actually being honest, i wasn’t just saying it to say it. if you look hard, you can find something nice about anyone :)

regardless of what i said or didn’t say i was a damn good bagger. i’d square up the bags whether paper or plastic, frozen foods were bagged with other frozen foods, cold with cold, can goods with can goods, products like soaps, bleach, tooth brushes, etc. were bagged separately. always treat the eggs, breads, chips, etc. with the utmost respect for care. not only was i diligent about my bagging, i was fast.

these kids at HEB are just a mess. they go right to the plastic 90% of the time without even asking what type of bag you prefer. they don’t attempt to talk to you at all – normally they are chatting with the cashier about homework or something, they throw things in the bag in the order they come down the line with no regard for colds, dry goods, chemicals, etc. hell, i go out of my way to put things on the conveyor belt to make things easier for them & still they F it up!

when i walked out of HEB the other night with my groceries one of the bags i was carrying ripped in half & spilled all over the parking lot – talk about me being pissed!

in the end i just shook my head & reminded myself that you get what you pay for.


Paul said...

the heb in austin sounds like the walmart supercenter on dunvale in houston (ok maybe not as bad as this walmat). i avoid this walmart like a plague and use in cases of hungry & food shortage emergency (only 24hr store nearby until we found a 24hr krogers). first you have to drive through the obstacle course of carts left abandoned in the parking lot. then you play frogger dodging the tumbleweeds of plastic bags to get to the door. then you have to wait in line of 20 since only two cashiers are open at night.

rarely do most regular grocery chains ask consumers whether paper or plastic. it keeps their costs low since plastic bags cost 2 cents vs recycled/regular paper bags around 4-5 cents. however paper bags may become the standard again in the future. san fran recently banned plastic bags and requires grocery chains to use either recycled paper bags or compostable plastic (~8-10cent) bags made from corn. many other cities may soon follow.

Brian Kirk said...

i am a big fan of the paper & recycling! in many countries stores charge a "tax" if you want a bag.

too many companies will cut corners these days & sacrafice both service & quality to save a dime. while i know there has to be some balance with things - i think HEB, walmart, etc. take it to far. again - you get what you pay for though :)

Paul said...

i am all for recycling and willing to pay more on food prices if the grocery places will use biodegradeable plastic or recycled paper bags. they say only 1% of the plastic bags are ever recycled. i get tired of seeing littered plastic bags. problem with the compostable plastic bags is that it can damage recycling machines if it gets mixed with recycled materials such as paper.

Jeremy said...

I do a lot of my shopping at HEB. If the produce sucks I make the trip to Whole Foods or Central Market if needed. I also hit Whole Foods for my beloved VitaSpelt Pasta (yummm).

My wife, Nicole, and I usually go shopping together. I unload the cart and she insists on bagging. I try to group like things together... And Nicole bags things to a reasonable weight since we are on the 3rd floor.

Eryn said...

what type of figs do you get at HEB.....i always look for fresh ones but sometimes I can't even find those at Whole Foods (have to tackle them at the right season I guess)

Brian Kirk said...


we pick up most of our veggies & meats at central & everything else at whole foods to include my beloved "tuna heavan" vegan spread. i got your back on the vita spelt pasta bro. it kicks a$$!


we buy sun-maid california mission figs. every so often we buy the dry fruits from whole foods/central market but to often they are too dry & also too pricey. one bag of the sun-maid brand last me about 5 or 6 days because i use them in my morning oatmeal along with a banana & any other fresh berries (strawberries, blackberries, etc.) we have in the house. if you can't find them at HEB it's probably because i just bought them all. when we got to HEB we buy like 10 bags at a time just so we don't have to come back any time soon.