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Tony Grist

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In Praise Of Supermarkets And Waitrose In Particular [Jul. 22nd, 2014|10:46 am]
Tony Grist
We stopped doing a big weekly shop at a supermarket several months ago. I was barely hacking it: unloading Ailz's scooter from the car, going round the shop, putting everything on the belt at checkout, bagging it, loading it into the car, loading Ailz's scooter into the car, unloading the car, putting everything away; it was just too much. So now we have Waitrose deliver.

They're expensive but the quality is brilliant- and if they make mistakes they offer generous recompense. This morning, for example, one of the eggs in our box of 15 was broken so the delivery man gave us the whole box for free. It's the sort of gesture that builds customer loyalty. Again, if they have to substitute one item for another the substitute item almost always represents a trade up- and you get it for the same price.

Julie Burchill was on TV last night singing the praises of the big supermarkets. A brave thing to do- but then Burchill is fearless; I admire her for it even when I dislike what she's saying. On this matter though I've been in her camp for years. We forget- in our ineradicable but idiot nostalgia for all things dead and gone- how the small shop was so very often a rubbish shop. The supermarkets are not only a good thing in themselves, but have forced the small shops that are left to raise their game.
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Comments:
From: cmcmck
2014-07-22 10:41 am (UTC)
Can't stand Burchill but people who wish one dead tend to have that sort of effect on a girl!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-07-22 11:23 am (UTC)
She's made a career out of having extreme and often contrarian opinions- and expressing them aggressively. I think she likes to be hated; it's what pays the bills.
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From: cmcmck
2014-07-22 04:50 pm (UTC)
She certainly doesn't seem to care what damage she does to oppressed minorities, but then, what journo does?
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2014-07-22 01:59 pm (UTC)
She is quite divisive and opinionated, but brave or foolish to be that way. Haven't decided which though.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-07-22 04:38 pm (UTC)
Look at this way- she makes a good living out of it.
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[User Picture]From: qatsi
2014-07-22 08:28 pm (UTC)
We've found Ocado to be much better than Waitrose (much the same product range, some cheaper own brands though the delivery charge (which varies with the time of day) probably cancels that out). I think it depends on the branch fulfilling your order - in our case it comes from the smaller Thatcham branch rather than the Reading one I'd go to in person, and they regularly seem to be out of a number of items in our trolley. The Ocado stuff is probably more centrally managed in a bulk back-office style.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-07-23 08:19 am (UTC)
I've never dealt with Ocado. We've tried Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose- and like Waitrose best.
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2014-07-24 06:09 pm (UTC)
Indeed, I'm quite fond of Ocado. Similar ranges, though certainly different in places, notably beer (though neither have a great deal to offer in cider) - but their deliveries stand out in particular as being supremely well-coordinated. They'll stage the entire order by your door first, then ring the bell, so you're not stuck letting heat gush out in winter. And even the crates are well designed, with the bags secured on hooks, so they're easy to quickly unhook and hand over. Not to mention sending a text message on the day, both as a reminder, and to confirm whether or not there are any substitutions.

Generally, I cycle between Ocado, Waitrose, and Sainsbury's - the latter more for the value diet cola, I admit, as lugging 2-litre bottles back on the bus gets a bit old, and Sainsbury's value stuff is only 20p, or 60p for the "normal" variety, versus 95p or so for Ocado/Waitrose. Not a huge difference, but if I pick up a dozen in an order, it adds up.
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[User Picture]From: seaslug_of_doom
2014-07-23 04:10 pm (UTC)
I am fortunate enough to have a Waitrose directly across the street from my flat, here in Abu Dhabi. It's lovely, and better than Spinneys.

I don't do big shopping either because I can just toddle on over, despite 40 degree temperatures, and pick up the one or two things I want. But not ice cream. I'd be drinking it by the time I got it back across the street.

Because it's HOT don't you know!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-07-24 09:03 pm (UTC)
We're stuck out in the country- on a road without pavements- with the nearest shops only accessible by car. It would be lovely to have a supermarket across the way but- you can't have everything.
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2014-07-24 06:16 pm (UTC)
The problem with supermarkets, inevitably, is they tend to carry rather a limited range of items, within each product range - maybe one or two others' sausages, say, plus their own brand. And inevitably, never made locally (though, Waitrose does go to some modest effort to procure local items - the Bath branch, f'rex, has Ermie & Gertie's wonderful Yarlington Mill & Pippin cider, Bristol Beer Company's Southville Hop, and Kingstone's 1503 Tudor Ale), so it's always the same mass-manufactured stuff shipped out everywhere.

Sometime, I want to get an order placed with a local farm produce operation, which supplies some damned good sounding sausages, various seasonal vegetable boxes, and Scotch eggs I know are really tasty, having been sold at the deli in town, before they gave up the ghost. They appear to be interested in offering local beer and cider, too, which would easily secure my business, but they've been kept busy enough with things as they are, plus all the legalities involved.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-07-24 09:06 pm (UTC)
I think there will always be a role for specialist shops selling local produce or specialities of one kind or another. What the supermarkets have killed off are the small general stores- which carried a very limited range of items indeed.
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