Sunday, March 01, 2009

If Mel Gibson makes another Mad Max movie, it will be set in a Market Basket on a Saturday

First, let me speak in praise of the Market Basket. It is a store with a good selection and prices that are considerably lower than any other supermarket around.
Of course, those low prices are countered by the fact that it feels like you went 12 rounds with Mike Tyson, circa 1985, in order to save that $30 off your bill.
The fun starts in the parking lot before you even get in the door. Cars line up on Friday night to snag spots on Saturday morning. Cars litter the side of the road like its the second day of Woodstock while stalkers with their directionals permanently on
 slowly circle shoppers heading back to their cars, hoping to land a valuable piece of asphalt real estate.

Once you're lucky enough to snag a parking spot and a carriage, it's time to enter the crucible. Since, to its credit, the Market Basket constantly has all of its registers open, along with some satellite registers located somewhere down between the cheese shop and the flower display, every customer coming into the store is faced with only one way into the main part of the store. Anyone who has tried to leave Foxboro after a Patriots game or a concert can appreciate the frustration of the funnelling effect that seems to send thousands of cars or customers through a single four-foot opening. Except that in the case of the Market Basket, that four foot opening is surrounded by mile-high stacks of pastries, cookies, Ho-Hos and Ring-Dings. Just perfect for people like me and Mrs. EC, who are trying to push a grocery cart through the eye of a needle. Soon as Big Boy EC sees the cookies, he's into snack mode hyper overdrive.

"Cookie, Cookie, Cake!"

Depending on the parenting mood for the day, we either try to gently explain that you can't always get cookies everytime you ask for them as lines of angry shoppers trying to get to the dairy section bottleneck behind us, or, as more likely is the case, we grab a container of donut holes as we fly by, and let BB EC dig in as we try to find a little bit of breathing space nudged up against the display of two-pound Velveeta blocks.

The rest of the shopping trip is a blur of attempting to cross off all the items on the shopping list while staving off a constant barrage of shopping cart attacks from customers young and old. Retired folks meander through the aisles, making sure to gently run their carts over the tops of your toes. Anytime you think there might be a little running room in an aisle, some family of 12 comes careening around the corner, parking their cart in front of you and arguing about what kind of Pop Tarts they should buy this week. For good measure, employees will also wheel out towering pallets of breakfast cereal during the busiest part of the day, drop them in the middle of the floor, and then stare idly at the shelves.

By far, though, the worst crush of humanity in the store is at the deli counter. Trying to buy some American cheese and a half-pound of turkey turns into an endurance contest, as Market Basket may be the only grocery store in the world that has deli tickets that run into five digits. I'm pretty sure that one week, by the time I got my roast beef and muenster, Mrs. EC had finished shopping, gone home, and come back next Saturday for the next week's shopping.

And once all the shopping is done and whatever grab bag of groceries you might have been able to pull off from an open space in the shelves is in the cart. It's time to wait in the checkout line. Because of the great hordes waiting to pay for the groceries, Market Basket has very specific rules for making sure there is room for everyone in the lines, such as making sure everyone is standing on top of their carts.

By the time our endless shopping excursion is over, I'm not sure if we need an oxygen mask or a stiff drink.


Blogger Suldog said...

I shop at Stop & Shop, and have worked out a ritual. I know that they stock the shelves between Friday midnight and 7am Saturday. Most of the shoppers don't show up until after 8am. So, I shop between 7am and 8am on Saturday. Works well, and non-stressfully, if willing to rise early on Saturday!

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shop at the Market Basket in Danvers and it's exactly like you describe.
Thank you for putting into words just what the Hell MB can be.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heart market basket

4:23 PM  
Blogger ryssee said...

Here via Universal Hub...
These are the reasons I won't shop there even though I live a 6 minute walk away from the one in Somerville. You are a much braver soul than I.
Why DOES the entire family have to go anyway??

7:28 PM  
Blogger j gillespie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:37 PM  
Blogger j gillespie said...

"Here via Universal Hub...
These are the reasons I won't shop there even though I live a 6 minute walk away from the one in Somerville."

I, myself on both counts- I refuse to even pull near their parking lot, let alone attempt to enter the store

I also refuse to shop at the crowded, expensive and poorly-stocked Shaw's in Porter

Work in the suburbs and do my food shopping there- cost/ savings not withstanding

8:40 PM  

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