I found myself at Fall-Mart on Saturday morning, standing in line at the cash register because only three lanes were open. That there would be a line on a Saturday morning I should have expected, and I shouldn’t have been so grumpy about it. I called J and left him a voicemail to say in my best frustrated voice, “Now I understand why Broger advertises We get you in and out in a hurry. Remind me of this next time I say I’m going to Fall-Mart. GRRR.” Then I hung up.
You see, when I go to the grocery store, I prefer self-checkout. And Broger lets you do self-checkout for full carts of groceries. They have a special line just for people like me! Additionally, I try to go the store at off times, especially avoiding Wednesdays, senior citizen discount day. I don’t like waiting my turn to squeeze my cart down the aisle. I know this makes me sound bratty, but it’s true.
This morning on the news, I heard a story about a South Korean grocery store without any groceries on the shelves. Instead of actual products, the store has photos of the products. Customers scan the products they want with their smart phones, and then the items get sent directly to their door steps. And when you run out of something at home, you can scan its barcode on your phone, and a refill gets sent to you. I’m not kidding. (By the way, some grocery chains are even removing the store itself from this model, allowing customers to order the groceries during their commute on the subway.)
So we’ve got two extremes here that are replacing the old-school, hands-on grocery store model. On the one hand, many Americans like me are doing all the work of shopping ourselves. I’m taking in my own bags, grabbing my own stuff, saying “no thanks” when asked if I need help, checking the items off my list, heading to the self-checkout, ringing up each of my own 83 items, bagging it myself, paying for it all, loading my cart, and then transferring my too-full bags into my trunk, which is tricky, by the way, because the hydraulic on our hatchback no longer works.
On the other hand, some customers can now make other people do all the work for them. Pick out their groceries, item-by-item, check them off the list, load them up in a truck, deliver them to the customers’ doorsteps.
In both cases, we as consumers get to avoid other people! Pretty great, right? Barely any face-to-face contact and we get exactly what we want, when we want it, where we want it.
Really, what could be better than this?
Well, for one thing, community.