I Cannot Help But Notice My Grocery Store Is Downsizing

One of the things about living in one place for a while–coming up on fifteen years at Nogglestead this year–is that you get perspective in seeing the changes and variations in the same place over time. We have seen fifteen winters and are about to have seen fifteen springs, so we get a sense of how wide the seasons can individually vary. Warm winter? Cold winter? We’ve seen both. So the exclamation-point-driven media definitely has a harder sell to convince us that IT’S NEVER BEEN AS HOT (or COLD) AS THIS ON THIS DATE! Well, except for the record set in 1930. Or a couple times that show up in my Facebook memories where I cracked wise about having my window open on this date or pictures of my driveway shoveled on this same date in history.

So I remember the evolution of the Pricecutter where we shop. Well, the big Pricecutter. It’s a relatively new store (but it was there when we got here). A little further west on Republic Road, a smaller, older Pricecutter held on for a couple of years, but it closed, sending Ron, a bagger some decade and change in his second career, to the new(er) Pricecutter. Which has been our go-to grocery after we turned our driving habits Springfield-wise. Even after the Walmart Neighborhood Market opened closer.

About ten years ago, they remodeled the store, freshening its look and, more importantly, expanding its produce section to include more variety. They added a salad bar and increased deli options as well, including a lot of ready-to-eat meals. They have this little isolated cul-de-sac they stuffed with health foods and organic options. They built a classroom for cooking classes. In short, they tarted up the place and filled it with more profitable offerings, but those offerings were parishable.

Althought they did cut the pharmacy a couple years later, the store has been relatively unchanged for that time. But within the last month, they started another remodel. But this time, they’re cutting the perishables.

I first noticed a missing bunker right when you walk into the doors. Between the produce section and the deli, they used to offer a variety of…. well, I think it was dressings, cut fruit trays, and some ready-to-eat things. But that bunker is gone. Bunkers by the cheese and lunchmeat and in the meat section have been replaced with smaller bunkers, and a large section of the meat case has been replaced with closed-door cases that hold longer-shelf-stable items. The meat racks have also been downsized so that they don’t have as many types of cuts prepackaged and fewer of each cut available. They’ve cut down the organic section and replaced it with sodas. In other words, they’re stocking less of the higher profit but perishable items, instead focusing on lower profit items.

The store has gone into a defensive crouch, expecting consumers to spend less on fresh meat, fresh vegetables, and convenience foods from the deli. Because we are.

Also, I cannot help but notice eggs are $5 a dozen again. But I haven’t seen this on the news Web sites I frequent.

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