|My shopping trip from O Grocery, plus cheap |
fresh produce I got from the farmer's market
Before I went, I asked in our local frugal Facebook group what the best deals were there, and I stocked up on those specific things. I was impressed with those prices, but the rest of the store? Some stuff had good prices, some had great prices, but some weren't anything to write home about, since they were more expensive than I typically find them at R Grocery...
But, even though some of the stuff were worth stocking up on, it was a hassle to get to that store (involved 2 buses, minimum, each way), so I said that it would have to be a once in a long time outing...
However, O Grocery just opened a new branch 2 weeks ago that is right on my bus route, and I was really excited about it, since it meant I could shop there without the hassle that it was before. Last night I went there to do my usual weekly shopping instead of at R Grocery, and I just felt the need to write up about it.
O Grocery has a slogan written everywhere- "Without Tricks, Without Gimmicks". They want to be known as the gimmick free store- what you see is what you get- low prices and that's all. Great idea for a store, no?
It would be, if it were actually so.
In fact, I found it ironic that for a store that labels themselves as a gimmick free store, they had many more gimmicks than R Grocery, and in fact, any other grocery I remember shopping at in the last while.
Even before I entered the store, I realized there was something strange going on. I was wearing Rose in my baby carrier, and pushing my stroller. I use my stroller as my means of transporting groceries, so I had planned on filling up the stroller with my groceries instead of using a shopping cart, so that way I could make sure that I wasn't buying more than I could carry. There was a man outside the entrance who told me I wasn't allowed to enter like that- I could only enter with the stroller if my kid was sitting in it. Otherwise, I'd have to leave it outside the store.
I looked around and saw that there were many folding shopping carts around the entrance- none of those allowed in either.
At first, I thought it must be just because of convenience, to not take up too much room in the store.
And then I saw the shopping carts they had, that everyone needed to use (if they weren't just carrying things in their arms)- and realized that they were huge! I have never seen bigger shopping carts in this country. They may be similarly sized to Costco shopping carts (from Google image search), but different dimensions.
There was a reason they make everyone use such huge shopping carts- you don't realize how much you're buying and it encourages overspending!
I "kept my shop small" and only filled my cart about 1/4 of the way- and upon checkout, saw that it was the equivalent of a mostly full standard grocery cart! I had a hard time finding room to put everything in my stroller...
So that is gimmick number one. Huge carts so you overbuy, because our brain doesn't compute quantity the same way when things are in different sized/shaped receptacles.
Speaking of which...
Packages were very oddly sized.
Things in my country are sold by the kilogram, usually, and sometimes by the half kilogram. This store had a few things sold by kilo or half kilo, but most of the store was with things in other random sizes, like 1.4 kilograms, 3 kilograms, 850 grams, etc. While I try to price compare, I usually just price compare things in my head, to get a ballpark figure if something is a good price or not compared to what things usually cost. It is much harder, therefore, when things are not in the standard units, or multiples of it, to be able to do a quick comparison of prices. (Comparing costs of 500 grams to a kilogram- 1000 grams- is easy. Comparing 500 grams to 1.4 kilograms is not.) People see bigger packages and higher prices, but most likely just assume that the larger sized package is cheaper, without actually doing a price comparison.
I'll give an example. Basmati rice is usually sold for $2.85 per kilogram here. There were packages of 1.4 kilograms of basmati rice being sold for $4.28... which seemed like a good price, until you actually whip out a calculator and calculate the price per gram for the larger package, and see it is actually $3.05 per kilogram, not a good price after all... While I do try to whip out my calculator, most people don't. They're counting on you being fooled both by the bigger packages and the non standard sizes into thinking things are good prices.
So that's gimmick number two.
Gimmick number three is related to number two.
They do have some amazing prices! White rice locally is typically sold for $1.42 per kilogram at cheap stores, occasionally on sale for $1.14. This store had rice for 82 cents per kilogram, for example. They also had olive oil on sale for $4.25 per 750 mililiter bottle, when the usual sale price for that size olive oil is $5.71-$6.30! (None sale olive oil goes for $8.60-$10.)
So with these super prices, they fool you into thinking that everything they have is a bargain, so most people don't even price compare- they just put everything they see and want into their cart, because "Its at O Grocery so it must be a steal."
But gimmick number 4 is what bugged me most of all, that actually makes me strongly consider never going to shop there ever again. I still am undecided, but this turned me off O Grocery so much, I can't even describe how much.
When I checkout at the register, I like to watch the register, keeping my eyes on the tally- maybe put some thing back/reconsider whether I need everything in my cart, if I see the total getting higher than I'd want it to be. I also watch to make sure the cashier doesn't make mistakes, or that the computer is showing the listed price.
BUT AT O GROCERY YOU CAN'T DO THAT!
This branch of O Grocery has the cashiers sitting facing you directly, the screen of the register with its back to you, so that you cannot see the register at all, unless your neck has the ability to stretch and bend 360 degrees.
You have no idea how infuriating that was to me.
I know the reason why the store has it is precisely because they don't want people to be putting back things and not purchasing everything that was in their (very huge- remember?) carts. It wasn't an accident- to me it is quite obvious that this is a marketing strategy/gimmick to make as much money as possible from shoppers, and it feels very morally wrong to me and sneaky.
Fortunately, there were no mistakes on my bill, but I still left the store feeling very frustrated.
Still not sure whether I'm going to go back to O Grocery.
I am very turned off by the fact that this "Store without Gimmicks" was full of this kind of trickery.
Edited to add:
After seeing the reaction this post has been getting on local message boards, I just want to clarify- the point of this post wasn't to write a review of a store- because this blog isn't just a local blog. And it also isn't to bash people who choose to shop there. It also wasn't to complain because "I was tricked", because I wasn't.
The reason for this post was to point out issues that people might not be aware of when grocery shopping. These are issues that no matter who you are, no matter where you live and where you shop, you should keep in mind, so that you don't overspend at the grocery store.
All stores use gimmicks and tricks to get you to spend more- there are countless articles on the internet about these types of things. A store isn't "bad" for having gimmicks.
My only issue is to be pretending to be without these gimmicks and then being no different than any others. And not being able to see the register. Had this store not have signs plastered all over "we have no tricks and no gimmicks" and had it had normal registers, this post never would have happened.
Do you have stores that pride themselves as being "gimmick free"? Do you find that they're actually gimmick free or that they do have gimmicks, like this one?
For those of you local to me, and shop at various branches of O Grocery, are all the stores with the same rules of no strollers and registers that you can't see? Or is it just this branch with all these gimmicks?
In my place, would you go back to such a store, knowing these gimmicks? If so, what would you do to avoid spending too much money and not fall for their tricks?