Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Mom, We’re out of…!

{insert household necessity here.}

In a house with six people, trips to the grocery store are frequent.  The four-to-five-days-per-week variety of frequent!  How can it be?  I’m a planner, and when I shop, I hit the stores with an Excel-based spreadsheet made up of dozens of staples that we couldn’t possibly use in the next year or two.  Before embarking on my skillful hunter-gatherer mission, I even update my spreadsheet to include items that my loving family so obediently adds to the handy dandy grocery list attached to the side of the refrigerator.  Oh, wait!  That last part was a daydream.  Sorry about that.

Back to reality.  Here’s an example of what really happens…

Last week when I passed through my kitchen on the way to a chore of some kind I’m sure, I noticed a kid squinting their eyes to double- and triple-check whether or not something was written on the list.  I took the bait and inquired about what exactly said child was hoping to see on the list.  The response was, “Trash bags”.  I don’t know why, but I asked, “Are we out of them?”  Did I really want to know the answer to that question?  No, but the question had been asked.  So, I held my breath and awaited the inevitable, “Yes”. Ugh! 

Why, why, why does no one write things on the grocery list until we are completely, utterly, entirely, totally out of something, thus setting into motion an emergency trip to procure something of immediate need?  This is what causes so many unplanned shopping trips. 

What other emergency items have the potential to send me running and screaming in the direction of my local market? Soap, bathroom tissue, deodorant, and toothpaste.  Pretty much personal hygiene products.  We can’t have body odor emergencies! 

To lessen the frequency of emergency shopping trips, I keep some of these items “in stock” away from the grubby hands of my children who refuse to alert me to an outage until the need is dire.  So, when I hear, “Mom, I’m out of deodorant!“, I’ve got it covered.  One stick of deodorant from my personal stash in exchange for an addition to the grocery list coming right up…!  My secret hygiene bank includes handsoap and toothpaste as well.

Bathroom tissue takes up lots of storage space, so I don’t stockpile much.  When either the girls or boys runs out of it, I ask them write it on the shopping list and tell them to borrow some from their sibings’ bathroom. 

Soap is small and doesn’t take up much space, but I use the bathroom-tissue method: send the offender(s) to borrow a new bar from a siblings’ stockpile and replace it when I buy more. 

I’m still trying to figure out the trash bag dilemma as it is one that can’t go unresolved.  I don’t take out the trash, so I rely on the children to update the shopping list, because each day of the week, one of them is assigned to trash duty in rotation.  That leaves seven opportunities each week to add the item to the list as the box goes from empty, to emptier, and dare I say – nothing but a cardboard box.  How could it be that a box of 90 trash bags disappears and no one noticed the emptiness until emergency status was reached?  

Never fear, this organizer had a plan!  I would buy two 90-count boxes and all would be well in the world!  Not!  The kids went through all 180 bags then cried out for more.  My next attempt at maintaining an adequate supply of trash bags will involve hiding away one of the boxes and magically producing it in case of “emergency”.

What items do I no longer consider worthy of an unplanned trip?

Milk.  Yes, milk!  I will no longer watch my children drink milk at every opportunity to fill their cups then react by racing to the store to stock up on more milk.  If two gallons of milk disappear in two days, so be it.  I refuse to buy more before my original plan calls for me to do so, because two gallons would turn into three gallons, which would turn into four gallons, which would turn into a problem that can’t be solved. 

Snacks are also on the “Do not rush” list.  Being out of Goldfish does not constitute a state of emergency.  Pick another snack – or not.  Either way, we have plenty from which to choose, so no one would starve.

Bread is also now considered a non-emergency item due to its hit or miss status around here.  Some weeks it sits around and becomes somewhat of a science project and other weeks it vanishes without a trace. 

Finally, cleaning supplies aren’t an immediate need either.  The borrow-from-another-bathroom plan applies here, but the list must still be updated.  Chores will be conquered!  No excuses!  Well, no good ones anyway.

In this circus that I call home, I have learned that no amount of planning will stop me from hearing, “Mom, we’re out of {insert household item here!}“.  Oddly, sometimes those words are music to my ears, because it reminds me of one of the greatest gifts in life!  Children!  :-)

Happy shopping!

CC

P.S.

In case of an impending snowstorm, all bets are off regarding the emergency vs. non-emergency list.  No one wants to be snowed in without bread, milk, or great snacks! :)

Improving Customer Service

For years, I’ve experienced a decline in the level of service at my local grocers and restaurants.  Long gone are the grateful smiles when I enter a place of business.  No longer am I greeted and asked if I would like to receive help.  Eye contact?  What’s that?  Doing business has become such a painful experience, I stopped looking forward to it.  Welcoming smiles and helpfulness are more the exception than the rule. 

Well, instead of complaining about how horrible service has become without telling managment about my experience and giving them an opportunity to address my issues, I recently decided to go on a customer service survey completion campaign.  It’s quite easy!  I simply began visiting web sites that are printed at the bottom of most receipts and spend 5-10 minutes answering questions and providing feedback.  They ask for it, so I give it to them.  It’s a win-win  (if they are truly committed to changing).

One such submission of feedback recently garnered an immediate phone call asking what could be done to improve my shopping experience.  The response was so overwhelming, I couldn’t have written a more perfect script to describe it.

Today brought about new opportunities provide feedback.  I’m happy to report that of three stores I visited today, I had nothing but glowing feedback to provide to all three establishments.  All feedback does not need to be negative.  If associates in stores care enough to provide a great customer service experience, I can provide feedback directly to them – I can also tell store management on the spot, complete online survey requests, and send direct messages to their management and corporate.  Who wouldn’t want to be recognized for doing a great job?!

Do you have a good, bad, or ugly customer service story you’d like to share? 

Love to all!

CC

Get Ready! Get Set! Save!!!

If you haven’t heard about the new savings craze, brace yourself!  The next time you’re out shopping at the local grocer or pharmacy, see if you can spot a shopper armed with a binder.  A binder, you ask?  Why would anyone walk around carrying a binder while shopping?  The simple answer…couponing. 

Super savvy shoppers have found a way for stores to practically pay them for shopping by wisely tendering coupons at the register.  Couponing isn’t just about occasionally saving a few pennies here and there.  It’s a lifestyle. 

Couponers approach saving from a different perspective than most shoppers.  They don’t believe in paying asking price for grocery items, they pride themselves on matching coupons to sales cycles, and they stockpile goods for the long haul.  Couponers know price match policies and which stores will double – even triple – the face value of coupons.

I’ve long-considered myself a savvy shopper who knew about sales cycles and I could spot a good sale when I saw one.  A few times each year, I take such great advantage of sales at Kroger, that I leave feeling like I’ve robbed them!  I’ve been known to go crazy stocking up on $1.50 boxes of cereal and 25-cent cans of veggies in quantities that would sometimes draw stares from other shoppers.  I carry a coupon wallet in my purse and use targeted coupons that Kroger mails directly to me based on my previous shopping habits.  I’ve even loaded e-coupons onto my savings card and printed coupons from various online resources, but coupon queens put my shopping skills to shame with their ultra-keen savings strategies.

So, I’ve decided to embark on a couponing journey to learn as much as I can about the strategy and will try it on my very next trip to the grocery store and pharmacy.

I’ve already purchased a binder and dividers with inserts for coupons.  All that’s left is to gather and organize coupons, familiarize myself with store coupon policies, match my coupons to sales cycles, make my shopping list, put on my walking shoes, and save!  Sounds easy, huh?  We’ll see!

Wish me luck!

What couponing advice would you offer to an aspiring coupon queen?  Post your comments here!

Love to all!

CC

Hello, All! I’m A Thief!

Have you ever walked toward the exit of a store and had the low, groaning alarm with flashing red lights tell everyone there’s something in your bag that you didn’t buy?

Yep, it happened to me tonight. In my “I got some great deals while shopping” afterglow, I proudly walked toward the door with my daughters and a smile on my face, because we’d found tons of great deals on our shopping trip. The smile and afterglow were immediately wiped off my face when the store’s security traps began blinking bright red lights while impersonating a nuclear power plant red alert alarm. I sheepishly began the walk of shame over to the register, where the clerk who’d just scanned my items ordered me to let her take a second look at my bag. Well, she didn’t make me feel shameful, in fact, she tried to tell me that this kind of thing happened all the time. OK, but why? I am not a thief!

While I waited for the clerk to finish checking out the customer who was originally behind me in line, another customer joked that he, too, felt like a crook whenever the all-knowing electronic security guard did the same to him.

So how did it all end?  The clerk went through my bag and found a security device on a sweater that I’d just bought for 80% off.  Purchasing a sweater at 80% off made me feel like I’d just robbed the department store, but not literally! The bright side (there always is one if you take the time to look) – I’m glad that the clerk found the security device, because I’m not trendy enough to start new fads – let alone the bold fad of wearing security devices on new clothes.

Do you have a “Hello, all, I’m a thief” story? If so, let’s discuss it here.

Love to all!

CC