Lost in the Supermarket

I briefly referred to this on Saturday, that my grocery shopping trip to the new Market District in Robinson Township was an utter disaster. This is partially my fault and partially the store’s fault.

What I Did Wrong

• Went shopping on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately, that’s when I have time to shop.
• Went shopping with two children. Unfortunately, that’s with whom I have to shop. And the girls were, for the most part, well behaved. Not perfect, and far from holy terrors. (Kate, as per, was quite… er, restless, let’s just say.)
• Used the of the mini-van of shopping carts. Flora wanted to stay with Kate and me, not go into the Learning and Activity Center. I would have insisted she go in there if I had known then what I know now. Shopping with two children necessitates the use of large, unwieldy carts.
• Went shopping at a new, unfamiliar, HUGE store in less-than-optimal conditions. (See above.)

I am completely willing to accept my portion of “blame” for the worst grocery shopping experience of my life (excepting the time I vomited in the South Side Giant Eagle; I was 13-weeks pregnant with Flora and morning sickness won that day, all over aisle 5).

What the Market District Gets Wrong

I am certain that the new Market District is a very nice store — unless you actually have to get some shopping done. Then, the vast selection of products and the numerous specialty sections dotted throughout the store, combined with the sheer size of the store and the Saturday morning crowd are utterly overwhelming. I had a list of about a dozen items that it took me three hours to get. THREE HOURS. Unacceptable.

The prepared food section is a hot mess. Not in a good way. People mill about; there are no lines and no customer flow; ordering food is a free-for-all; and paying for food is a guessing game. The seating area — for a mom with a mini-van sized shopping cart, two children, and a tray of hot food — was nearly inaccessible. Note to whoever stuck that elevator in: IT IS NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE USING SHOPPING CARTS, even normal-sized ones. My children and I barely fit in there alone with the cart, and there was no way any combination of more than one normal-sized cart and any number of people (or strollers or wheelchairs, etc.) fit in there. BAD PLANNING. Thank goodness for helpful patrons — note: not employees, to whom it appeared I was invisible. This portion of my shopping trip 1) almost made me break down in tears and 2) almost made me abandon the effort of shopping at the store all-together.

If you provide mini-van-sized shopping carts for parents who choose not to use the Learning and Activity Center (no “Eagle’s Nest” here!), you should provide wide enough aisles for said shopping carts. Please and Thank You. There were certain areas of the store where I was sure I was going to get stuck and/or knock over whole displays. They were also the areas I didn’t mean to wander into, but I was unfamiliar with the layout, and by hour two I was completely disorientated.

It’s nice to be able to pick up a six-pack of beer (and a being able to pick up a bottle of wine will be even better), but it’s way too expensive. And the location of the beer purchasing area makes this just about not worth it.

It may seem that putting organics with all the other products — mainstreaming them, as it were — is a good, intuitive idea. It’s not. It just makes them that much harder to find. And I never did locate organic butter.

I like and support the idea of sampling stations. Unfortunately this Saturday morning with the crowd and my massive cart (have I talked enough about that yet?) they just added to the congestion and made everything take longer.

What They Get Right

The deli area is the picture of efficiency. No lie.
The coffee area (right near the deli) is loverly, and the free sample sure came in handy.
The bulk foods area. Although there should be more than one scale — and since there’s only one scale, it better freaking work every time.
Providing a map. In the end, it didn’t help me much, but it’s a great idea. And I’m sure it will help me IF I ever shop there again, and it probably did help others on Saturday.

Finally, to the other people shopping at the Market District on Saturday:

An “excuse me” goes a long, long way. Huffing at me, elbowing me, crashing your cart into mine, and/or rolling your eyes at me? Gets you NOTHING. I know the “excuse me” thing, combined with a smile, worked wonders for me, my giant-ass shopping cart, and my children. I had to use it several times, and I got a lot of “that’s okay”, “I’ve been there” and nice smiles in response. So next time, if it seems I don’t know you’re there, simply say, “Excuse me.” I will maneuver out of your way, and I will smile at you as I do it.

Options for me in the future should I decide to return to Market District:

Shop at a different time and/or day.
Shop with my husband as well as my children.
Shop without my children in tow (will necessitate employment of a babysitter).
Wait until Kate turns 3 (in January) so I can stow both girls at the Learning and Activity Center.
Forgo the prepared foods section all together OR only visit the grocery store to have lunch.

Incidentally, I heard from other (child-free) people who declared their experience at Market District pretty terrible on Saturday as well.

What should they do differently? What else do they get right? Or wrong? What else could I have done? Should I give the store another trial run, or just wait until the girls are older (college graduates or married with their own kids?)?

Success! (Or Four Down)

The birthday party at the Children’s Museum was a complete success. No muss, no fuss, and all the kids had fun. Plus, the museum was nearly empty because it was Steelers’ game day (boo).

This is what they looked like in their pretty dresses.

Pap-pap, Tadone, and the Girls. And, yes, if it looks as if Kate is being physically restrained, rest assured, she is being physically restrained. She was crazy on Sunday. Thank goodness there were so few people were in the Children’s Museum. I could pretty much let her run.



The Party Girl.

My Wild Child. With Lobster.

Fun with Water.

Look What I Did!

Cake!



Candles!

Pet Shops!

All-in-all, a Very Successful Day.