July 11, 2012

Store changes questioned

By SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time

---- — My shopping trips used to be an event I looked forward to, taking time to browse, choose my favorite products and drive home with a sense of satisfaction. 

In the recent past, however, I’ve noticed that I become more frustrated when I can’t find what I’m looking for, mostly because the store has moved the product from where it used to be or redesigned it.

Last week I was in one giant retailer, looking for ink for my printer. I used to head straight for the back shelves in the electronics department, make my choice and be on my way. Not on this trip. When I reached that familiar aisle, the ink was nowhere to be found. I started a trek around and around all neighboring counters but to no avail.

Finally, I asked a sales clerk if they still carried printer ink. He responded, “Oh, yes, we just moved it. I think it’s over here.”

I followed him, up one aisle, down another, until finally we “accidentally” came across the printer ink display.

“Imagine that,” I said. “If you didn’t know where it was moved to, how am I supposed to find it in a timely manner?”

He shrugged his shoulders, smiled and quickly walked away. I wasn’t really expecting an answer, just wanted to let my frustrations be known.

Growing up in Westville, with a country store just down the road, we never had that problem. Bernard Fleury could be depended on to put the canned peas, bread, nails, work gloves, turpentine and hammers on the same shelf they always were on, year after year after year. I always knew where the penny candy was. The locally grown vegetables were always in the same place, and the meat counter never moved.

I know I’m not the only “senior” who has this trouble with today’s large retail stores. I once had a lady ask me if I knew where the bread was kept. Seems the store moved it from the right side of the store all the way to the left, and she was very confused.

More recently I needed a gallon of paint to finish painting my deck. So off I went to another large retail center. 

My old paint can was smudged across the lid, covering the “recipe” to mix the paint, so I took the whole can to the store. After placing my order, I wandered around for a while. When I got back to the paint counter, my empty can was there, along with a new can that looked nothing at all like the old one.

I asked the sales clerk if it was the same paint, and he said it was. The manufacturer had changed the can’s design. It was as different as black and white. If I had tried to find it on the shelf, I would have left empty handed.

I think I understand why retailers change product designs, locations of items and sometimes even the name of a product. It’s about keeping up with the times and not letting stock get old. But if they think that making my 65-year-old legs walk around and around and around the store is going to trick me into filling my cart with items I don’t need, they have another thing coming.

OK, enough ranting and raving for now. Retailers: please leave the “stuff” in your store alone or at the very least give me a map of the new arrangement.

Perhaps I need to reconsider what I “need,” and live by this slogan from the Adams Farm in Wilmington, Vt.: “Use it up, wear it out; can’t afford it, do without.” It makes more and more sense all the time. Seems like a good way to have less frustration in my life. My grandparents lived that slogan to a “T.” Too bad my generation didn’t persevere in the same thoughts. I wouldn’t have so many “things” that seem to own me, crying out, “dust me, fix me, store me!”

One last thought, as always, please be kind to one another. The world needs more kindness.