Topsy-turvy groceries are tough to digest

Published 11:06 pm Saturday, September 29, 2012

The largest grocery store chain in America is changing the layout of its store in Vicksburg.

What a pleasure.

Some suit, probably in Cincinnati, came to the conclusion that change needed to be made. Why? A study probably showed that moving the fresh baked goods 2 feet closer to the door would lead to more baked goods sales.

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On Monday, employees and many who appeared to be from a corporate office somewhere, were scrambling. At the foot of each aisle were white boards with items listed in half-legible English as to the contents of said aisles.

Shelf-stockers were busy unshelving, then reshelving somewhere else.

The customers wandered in a daze, heads tilted, fingers scratching and looking for answers.

The bottled water, which for as long as the store on Pemberton Boulevard had been opened, was next to the beer aisle. The beer next to the frozen foods, and on down the line.

Routines, you see, are a good thing. When people feel comfortable in a store finding things, the more likely they will be to shop there consistently. The biggest of the big box stores, also with a location here, changed its layout a while ago and it’s still difficult to find anything.

But what about bottled water?

“Aisle 13,” a nice lady in a button-down, corporate blue shirt said to me.

Indeed, on aisle 13 cases of bottled water, French water and flavored water. But what about gallons of water that logically previously had been included in the bottled water aisle.

I found another nice lady.

“Y’all are crazy,” I said. “Why do you do this?”

Her shirt had two buttons — certainly an hourly employee and not corporate or in management.

“I’m not crazy,” she snapped, but with a gentleness to the snap. “I don’t know why…”

She grabbed a stapled pack of papers. “Bottled water is on… aisle 13.”

“I know, I was just there. What about gallons of water?”

“That would be on aisle … 5,” she said.

I have in the past been called a smart (buttocks) and have met lunacy with sarcasm.

I couldn’t resist.

“So cases of water…

She cut me off. “They are the ones that did it, not me.”

I slowly walked eight aisles south. Eureka!

To the checkout I went. The second nice lady was there waiting.

“Did you find everything OK?” she asked.

I kept my mouth closed.