CSotD: Finding your way; losing ours

Stephen Collins on the perils of shopping in a strange supermarket, and thoughts on that topic could be a book, and an interesting one.

I had the great good fortune to be a biz writer in a small city when a fourth grocery chain came in, and they were not only willing to talk to the press (first lucky moment) but eager to explain what they were doing (not always the case, either.)

Some of what I learned, any biz major would learn, like the “J-curve,” which is that, when a competitor comes to town, sales for the established businesses slide, but, once the novelty is over, they come back up — but never to the same level, so the chart makes a J-curve and not a U-curve.

Other things were more specific to the grocery trade, like First Impressions.

At the time (late 80s), there was a trend towards putting the bakery department at the entrance so that people would be hit with cinnamon and fresh-baked bread when they came in.

However, that quickly went away, and it is now gospel to hit shoppers with an array of fresh, colorful produce. Even a store that can’t really mount an impressive produce selection will place it at the front door.

Collins is correct that people become disoriented in a strange store, and making people feel welcome and well-oriented is key to building customer loyalty.

I was the home-parent through most of my kids’ time at home, and I learned to avoid weekends and lunch hours when the amateurs show up, as well as the day the senior center brings in busloads of shoppers and — back in the heyday of newspapers — the day the coupons came out.

But I accepted that if, like poor David in this cartoon, I went to a strange store, I’d be like one of those hapless weekend Dad shoppers, wandering the aisles in random order, finding things by luck rather than logic.

What I never came to terms with was my own store shifting aisles around so that I couldn’t sweep through filling my cart by memory/association.

Were they deliberately trying to slow me down, make me think, get me to look at what else they had?

Or was it just some meathead back at corporate with nothing to do, dreaming up new layouts and declaring them mandatory for all stores?

One of the stores here had (1) constant “tell us how we’re doing!” surveys and (2) constant turnover of managers.

One of those touch-and-go managers explained to me that, if you gave them an 8 overall but said you wished they’d do something differently — not shelve the Marmite  with the jams, perhaps — the Marmite would stay where it was but he’d be fired for getting less than a 10 rating from someone.

Which made me feel a little better about how newspapers are run these days. Misery loves company.


Other Forms Of Loyalty

Most of us are loyal to one grocery store or another and often for illogical reasons.

However, when unreasoning loyalty rises above issues of eggs and Marmite, it begins to matter more, and Ed Hall responds here to the devout, unquestioning loyalty of evangelicals to Dear Leader.

Perhaps the answer is that they become devout because they want definite answers, even if those answers are completely illogical.

So they believe the Earth is 5,000 years old and that it was created in six days and the Donald Trump is a great leader because he was such a great businessman and besides he was on “The Apprentice” and he was never wrong there, either.

They don’t want a minister who tells them they need to think and read and pray over a decision. They want a minister to tell them what is right and what is wrong.

And they want the same thing from politicians.

Well, such people have been with us always, so that, while Moses was up on Sinai getting instructions from Himself, they quickly lost faith and began building, and worshipping, a golden calf.


No, no, Jimmy Margulies, I said “a golden calf,” not a “Trojan horse.”

This is a different story, though, granted, the Trojans were idiots to ignore Cassandra and bring the thing within their walls.


Anyway, the Census Question has finally, apparently, been put to rest, and now, as David Horsey notes, we shift from the warnings of Cassandra to a flabbergasted Alice who can’t understand the world in which she’s found herself because she has a belief in logic and common sense that simply doesn’t apply in Looking Glass Land.

I was talking to someone yesterday and we chuckled grimly over the aftermath of the 2016 election when all the Alices and Cassandras came up with logical, sensible explanations, about who didn’t vote because they trusted the polls and who trusted the polls and entered a protest vote, nobody expecting that Trump could possibly win.


Well, Alice and Cassandra have their virtues, but Rob Rogers has the actual answer, not simply to their demands for logic and their demands for caution and foresight, but to the question asked at the Army hearings, “At long last, have you no sense of decency left?”


No. None whatsoever.

They are already explaining that the lack of soap, toothbrushes and basic hygiene is the fault of the Democrats for forcing the poor, weeping Republicans …

… pictured here … to keep those people in such abominable conditions. It’s obviously the fault of Democrats for making America a place people want to live.


And that’s not the only case, as Andy Marlette points out, in which busybodies and know-it-alls and politically correct social justice warriors are pressuring good, decent men to quit their jobs and face dishonest courts and unfair charges.

They’re the real victims in these things.

Point being that 2016 may have been a surprise but history and literature are full of surprises, mostly because Alice refused to admit that logic fails, and too many people didn’t want to hear what Cassandra had to say to them.

And Anne Frank may have believed that people are really good at heart, but sometimes they have to be kind of reminded to act that way.


One thought on “CSotD: Finding your way; losing ours

  1. Too bad Tenniell isn’t still with us. He had the exact right set of skills to render Trump graphically. Simply put, Trump has looked like one of his characters (or several of them) for the last decade or two.

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