Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bigger is definitely not better

Let me know if this scene looks familiar:

You go to the grocery store to pick up some stuff. You're rolling through the frozen foods aisle, trying to avoid being distracted by the endless stacks of whatever confections that a fleet of 18-wheelers can offload 24/7 through the store's loading dock.

You're surrounded by hordes of similarly-distracted shoppers, all pushing oversized carts, just like you. As you stop for the thirteenth time in the last two minutes to wait for someone to mull over national brand vs. store brand marmelade, it dawns on you that there isn't enough room for everyone.

It's not that the store isn't big enough. Indeed, today's supermarkets occupy more real estate than a small airport. But as exponential as the big box store's growth curve has become, the actual amount of roll-around room inside seems to get smaller at the same time. Call it the new retail square footage math.

That's because although the new aisles are extremely wide, store planners insist on plunking down point-of-sale displays for everything under the sun wherever they think they'll attract the most attention: at the end of aisles so it's impossible to turn the corner without whacking some unseen shopper, or right in the middle of them so that only one cart can pass in any direction.

Which explains why I spent more time "excuse me"-ing than actually shopping today. I was as gracious as I could be, but I couldn't help but think we were all being inconvenienced by store managers who really didn't know - or care - about our shopping experience.

I know it's trivial. But we all experience stuff like this, so I figure we all relate. Note to store owners: North American shoppers hate bumping tushies with fellow shoppers. They'll go elsewhere if the store is so cramped that they can't navigate inside.

There, I've ranted. What say you?

14 comments:

deputyswife said...

What gets me the most is the people in the store. I can handle the excuse me's if people would take the time to say it. I always try to smile and say excuse me or something to another person. 90% of the time I get a grunt and someone pushes their way past me. Argh!

And old people complain about young people? They are the ones that are the worst to deal with!!!

Okay, I need to get off my box now...

kenju said...

I say you are right! Those P-O-S boxes/stacks that stick out into the aisles are the worst. The managers must think if you have to stop because you can't get through the aisle that you will automatically buy more stuff. I try very hard not to succumb to that.

Michele sent me.

Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

Hello, Michele sent me. It's not so much the sheer size that annoys me, but the commensurate lack of service. And how come it's always the one product I desperately need that is still awaiting unpacking from the 18-wheeler?

Cape Man said...

Hey, thanks for visiting.
I tend to treatt he shopping lanes as I would a road. I treat everyone else the way I'd like to be treated. Therefore I don't mull over choices while standing in the middle of the aisle blocking the road. I never change lanes without looking over my shoulder to see if someone else is attempting to pass me. A little overboard I know, but it makes for a more pleasant shopping experiance.
I even gave my kids training lessons and eventually a licence to drive the trolley.

Kristen said...

oooo that happens more often than id like to remember...the turn the corner smack into someone then do the tango cause neither can decide which way to go...horrible

Guppyman said...

Go to Wal-Mart....

I am there daily picking my wife up from work... For some reason when a person enteres Wal-Mart, they immediately forget basic things like manners and common sense.

I see people walking along every day looking anywhere but the direction they are walking... these are the dangerous ones... they'll run you down and never even know it.

Then there are the one's who you are polite enough to wait for them to pass.... they'll stop and hold a conversation right in the space you waited for them to get in to (with the assumption that they would pass thru and you could be on your way)....

grrrrrrrrr....

One last thing... the busiest aisle in the store is ALWAYS the narrowest.... what's up with that?

sxKitten said...

Just another sign of the downfall of civilization, I tell ya!

Narrow aisles don't help, for sure, but my local stores are broad and spacious, and it doesn't help. If there's room to pass a parked buggy, it's pretty much guaranteed that the driver of said buggy will be standing right beside it, blocking passage. Or will park smack in the middle of the aisle. And will ignore my polite requests to get past, or worse, glare at me as if I'm being unsufferably rude by not waiting patiently while they contemplate the relative benefits of Aromatherapy Dawn with rose & sandalwood versus Aromatherapy Dawn with lavendar and ylang ylang.

I like it best when, as we finally inch past, my "subtle? what's subtle mean?" 4-year-old chirps loudly, "How come people just stand there, Mom, and don't let anyone past?"

Kevin said...

Wouldn't know anything about it. I get my groceries on-line these days, delivered right to the front door.

mg said...

This is exactly why I tend to frequent smaller, family owned businesses where the focus isn't so much marketing, but more the actual human beings present.

You could say that by spending a little more, I'm purchasing quite a bit of sanity.

mg

Heather said...

I can't stand it when other shoppers stand right in the middle of the aisle and pretend they don't notice you are waiting for them to move. It makes my blood boil.

Yaeli said...

We have the same shopping problems here! :o)
I must say that the worst bit is when shoppers think that there is a speed limit on walking around the supermarket. Some people walk SO slow down the middle of the aisle!!!

Sweetie said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you about having bigger stores with wider aisles that are cramped with "impulse" or "sale" items.

I was thrilled when my local grocery store finally remodeled (bigger, better, and wider aisles along with more selections) but I keep bumping into people and the stacks of food which sit diagonally in the aisles!

In one visit I once accidently knocked over two different food displays that were jutting out in the aisles. You could tell the employee cleaning up the jar of apple sauce was an expert at quick clean-up; she must do it constantly!

Plain Jane said...

Like Kevin, I'm going to be the blemish on this witnessing...

I get a lot of my goods delivered right to my door and for those times I do go out, I tend to do it very early in the morning or very late at night... and the grocer I use is practically dead at those hours.

Now, it seems like the staff is too - but that's got nothing to do with narrow (or lack thereof) aisles and the displays they put in them. :)

Easy said...

I try to 'accidentally' bump into the POS displays whenever I can. They just piss me off.