Every Little Helps

by Organikal on April 15, 2006

Quite frankly, despite the efforts made by the supermarkets I can’t name one person who enjoys the weekly supermarket visit. It’s usually a hugely stressful experience, and I can’t recall any visits that produced anything other than discontent. I recently had a dreadful experience at my local Tesco, which resulted in me walking out of the shop in disgust, leaving behind my carefully selected organic produce on the conveyor belt.

Haven’t I already said we had stopped shopping at supermarkets? Yes, I did, but there are occasions when we have made the decision to visit a supermarket, usually based on some unique circumstance. Having managed not to visit that particular superstore since our New Year decision was made, except for a fleeting visit based on the need for some heavyweight copier paper for marketing material for the office, I found myself circumventing the store about tea-time on a Saturday.

We’d been on a family day out to the Wallace Monument near Stirling and following the success of the visit had decided that we’d like to watch Mel Gibson’s epic Hollywood adventure based on the history – Braveheart. We had also agreed to host a family afternoon tea the next day which required some baking for which we didn’t have all the necessary ingredients. After some heated discussion, we reluctantly agreed to buy the necessary ingredients from Tesco as we could at least source organic and fairly traded produce. The film would also be purchased and ensure a successful round-up to a most successful day.

Finding the film almost straight away, I fought my way through the miserable mass (I didn’t see anything but stressed-out families performing a necessary chore) to collect the organic and fair trade ingredients and waited in the checkout queue with an increasing disquiet creeping over me. I knew I didn’t want to be there, and I felt like I wanted to tell everyone that I didn’t shop there anymore – it was just an emergency situation. An emergency? Not quite.

I got closer to the checkout, and the well-dressed, well-spoken middle-aged couple in front of me were in the process of paying for their shopping. I noticed the delay, and the raised questioning voices, and turning my attention to the conversation ascertained that the couple wanted to exchange a money-off voucher against the purchase price of their shopping, but were unable to do so because they hadn’t met the minimum spend requirement to qualify. After some further discussion and the drafting in of some additional staff, it was decided that the couple would re-visit the supermarket and choose additional goods to the value of thirteen pounds in order to meet the minimum spend requirement and save nine pounds off the total shopping value. To allow them to do this, I was asked if I could move all my shopping from the conveyor belt onto a neighbouring checkout in order to suffer no further delay.

By this time, thankfully that creeping disquiet made itself quite audible and I told the checkout staff that I wasn’t prepared to do so in any circumstances and would prefer not to purchase any of the goods after all, and walked out with a toss of my hair. I’m sure the staff thought I was dreadfully impatient – in fact, I was dreadfully annoyed, ashamed, embarrassed and outraged all at once!

I’m delighted to report we still managed to watch the movie and save a lot of money in the process by borrowing from a family member. The afternoon tea went well and resulted in the first time bake of a sponge cake made with courgettes that didn’t after all require the organic butter I abandoned on the conveyor belt the previous day.

Every little helps in moving towards a supermarket free life! I haven’t been back since, although did visit my local Somerfield store to purchase some Quorn products and ice cream for the boys. I’m working on finding alternative means for both items.

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