Saturday, July 07, 2007

Toothopolis is under attack


Too much choice
London, ON, July 2007

The grocery store of my childhood was a homey place where I recognized the names and faces of most of the folks who worked there. It was small enough that I could see each corner when we walked in. Product choices were pretty simple: pick from the one or two options, then move on.

Today? Not so much. I'm in the toothpaste aisle of the local Loblaws, our version of an oversized temple of conspicuous consumption. It took us well over five minutes to decipher the eight different kinds of Crest toothpaste. I was about to use my Moto Q to research these offerings online when my wife figured it out and made her choice.

Every item in our cart requires a similar process: stand in front of the overloaded shelves as you make a purchase decision only marginally less complex than that required to grant launch authority to a space shuttle.

This plethora of choice drives the need for airport-sized superstores whose dairy sections come with their own zip code. On a day when the Live Earth concerts decry global warming and prompt us to act, I wonder about the role that supersized commercialism and mega-choice in places like this grocery store play in our current environmental pickle.

I miss the human-sized stores of my childhood, and wonder if I'm the only one who feels that way.

Your turn: Am I? What message do today's superstores send to you?

18 comments:

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh yes, Carmi...These "simpler times" places were a lot easier to navigate in every way.
It is my understanding that "placement" of products on which shelves is terribly important...(I wonder if there is lobby for that? Or, how much a supermarket chain gets paid to feature certain products in the BEST place...It is all GREED now, everywhere...Very Very disheartening.... I'll stck with nature and it's purity.

And speaking of that, thank you Carmi for your lovely sweet comment on my blog. I dearly appreciate your words, more than I can say.

Anna said...

SMALL BUSINESS BANKRUPTCY is what superstores mean...love the shot. I have a couple up I think you might like Carmi! Hope you are having a good weekend! :)

PI said...

Life was a lot simpler when we had food rationing during the war. There was NO choice and very few tit-bits- but the odd treat - when we spent our sweet coupons gave us such pleasure.
We were all much healthier - we walked everywhere and there was no obesity. Our pleasures were the radio, the cinema and concert parties.
What was the question again?
Michele can't remember either and she's younger then I am

Moogie said...

We never had many small stores where I was growing up, though we did have some Mom and Pop stores but those were used for little items...like when you needed more milk. There are just too many choices now-a-days. Cereal, cheese, shampoo, deodarant...the list is endless. I do remember even in the bigger stores, the choices were not that plentiful. Today, more often than not, I go for the items that are not on sale, or those that are the store brands. It really depends on what it is. You are not alone...well, except for the fact that you blog from the grocery store. :)

Geri said...

Delurking

I'm 45 this year and I do not shop anymore. Thank goodness my partner will go to the evil superstore or I would starve/be naked/be bored... I am just too overwhelmed and frustrated to shop the superstores. Luckily I live near a town that has a small wallys so I do go there for craft supplies. They thinkmit's a riot that I travel about 25 miles one way to shop there when we have two monster sized super wallys right here in towm.

Have a nice day!

MileHighDivaCyn said...

Buy as much as you can no matter how much waste.
sad.
There was a local neighborhood store by my grandma's house. We walked to it. We carried sacks back.
Those days are gone

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

On a day when the Live Earth concerts decry global warming and prompt us to act, I wonder about the role that supersized commercialism and mega-choice in places like this grocery store play in our current environmental pickle.

Were you in my brain earlier???

Yes, I am all for Mom and Pop shops. In fact, I wish I had the bucks to buy up the abandoned buildings in a small, ex-steel town and renovate them into homes and shops, and turn the community into a real artsy, Mom and Pop sort of community. Wouldn't THAT be cool?

Anonymous said...

You caused me to grin a bit with you mentioning of the "human sized" stores of your youth, then looking at your picture I'm thinking those stores of your youth where the stores of my adulthood and not the cozy stores of my youth.

In my opinion, the world will have to go thru a change in attitude (what is often called a "paradim shift"). I'm sure I can't imagine what that shift will be, but the old axiom of "sustainable growth" will prove to be a false hood and is the thinking that has us in the fix we are now in..

Paul

Bernie said...

Carmi...
A challenge for you!
If you have to:
Every item in our cart requires a similar process: stand in front of the overloaded shelves as you make a purchase decision only marginally less complex than that required to grant launch authority to a space shuttle.
then how long does it take to shop?
I challenge you to get it all done and dusted in LESS than 30 mins and report back... lol
Here from Michele's as we sit through another Sunday afternoon storm in Sydney!

colleen said...

It's a glut of novelty and too much choice. New and improved often isn't.

Catherine said...

Confusion is the usual message in these stores - once I have decided on the brand I want, I try and stick with it - often though, it will be discontinued and I have to read labels all over again. I'm pretty happy to let my husband do most of the rocery shopping theses days.

Sara said...

You must have been with me at the grocery store the other day when I was trying to buy A loaf of bread! Somedays it is overwhelming to try and buy anything - the bread now takes up an entire aisle on one side - and that's only the bread that comes from big bakeries. The natural and homemade breads are in a totally different place!

Some days I truly miss the smaller grocery stores we had when I was younger.

margalit said...

I'm with you, Carmi. I don't shop at superstores because I just cannot deal with the overstimulation. It's way too much for my little brain to handle. I get our food at Trader Joes, which has their own brands (yummy, too) and very limited choices. Fortunately, we love all the choices they offer and we eat well on less money and less crap. For stuff like toothpaste and shampoo, I shop at the local drug store.

I hate all the extra packaging that is used, most of it non-recylable, so I just won't buy it. But my feeling is, try and go out of your way a bit to shop the less humongous stores. I don't get how people even enter a Costco, never mind shop there!

Michele sent me today.

talj said...

An interestin post Carmi that raises some good points! I agree with Anna, it is a real shame to see the old corner shop being closed down and the bigger stores taking over!

Hope you have a great week :o) {{HUGS}}

craziequeen said...

looks like our local supermarket... :-(

Choosing is simple - whichever brand is on Two for One offer....

Michele sent me to compare supermarkets with you in London, Ontario :-)

cq

CG said...

How funny you made this observation...I was trying to choose toothpaste only this week and was just gobsmacked by the crazy amount of CHOICE. Has the world gone mad???

kenju said...

I don't know what your choice was, but Crest ProHealth has given me great marks at the dentist's office!
Michele sent me tonight.

Beverly said...

Oh, indeed you are not. My son and daughter-in-law try their best to patronize the locally owned businesses rather than the big box stores. It isn't always possible, unfortunately.

Sadly, the simpler times seem to be gone.