Monday, August 30, 2010

Grocery Shopping - Saving vs. Sanity

     Tonight I stopped off at No Frills to pick up some groceries on the way home. It's been a while since I've darkened the door of The Frill, as I've been shopping at our neighbourhood Sobeys instead. On my way out, as I looked at my $70.00 No Frills bill and estimated it would have cost easily $90.00 - $100.00 at Sobeys, I couldn't help but wonder, what's the dollar value of a pleasant grocery shopping experience?
     No Frills used to be my regular grocery store. Their produce is fresh, they have all the great No-Name and President's Choice products I love, and it's a cheap place to shop. And, of course, there's my admiration for Galen Weston, but that's a whole other story for another time. Lately, however, the downside of The Frill has caused me to pay premium prices at Sobeys.
     Let's compare: At No Frills, based on their clientele demographic, you have to deposit a quarter for your cart. At Sobeys, you have your choice of 3 cart sizes (regular, mini, and "shopper in training" kids' carts) and no deposit is required. At No Frills, navigating through the store is a bit of a competitive event with the occasional unpleasant outburst. One time I saw two women come to fisticuffs in the meat department. It was an eye-opener for me and it answered my question about what comes next after someone sucks their teeth at another woman. Quite the sociological cultural study event while grabbing some grocs. But, I digress.  At Sobeys, I look forward to (figuratively) running into friends from the neighbourhood, which is great for socializing while shopping, but not so great when you're a fright with no makeup, schlumpy clothes, and bedhead. This look, by the way, is more common among Frills shoppers.
     Sobeys has a deli counter. No Frills doesn't. Sobeys has cookie club. The only free cookies at No Frills are the ones that get shoplifted. As frivolous as these little perks seem, deli samples, free cookies, and of course, the lobster tank all provide the kind of mid-shop entertainment my kids need to keep my sanity.
     The prices at Sobeys, as I alluded previously, are considerably higher for the most part. Tonight at The Frill, I picked up some Lean Cuisines for $1.99 each, which would most likely cost $3.00+ at Sobeys. A family pack of pork chops was $6.25, compared to $8.00 - $9.00 at Sobeys. A triple pack of baby wipes refills for $3.99, typically runs about $6.00 at Sobeys. I'm not sure what they'd cost at Sobeys but my $0.77 head of romaine lettuce, $0.87 English cucumber, $1.77 bag of bagels, and $0.47 can of tomato paste all struck me as bargoons.
     I think the heart of the matter is how much stress you're prepared to put up with while doing groceries. While I was in No Frills during the evening rush, I didn't have the kids with me, so the crazies running around with their carts were a source of entertainment to me rather than antagonization. Bagging my own groceries was no big deal, because no one was trying to climb out of the cart or leave the store without me. I didn't need to take anyone to the fish counter to threaten them with a fish with its face still on for dinner, if they didn't behave. I kind of missed saying "hi" to the lobsters but I enjoyed hearing a loud exchange between a daughter and her elderly mother, with their lyrical West Indian accents and colloquial grammar. It was quite endearing and I am always a sucker for a foreign accent.
     So I have to say, if I can hold it together and put up with the nonsense, especially with my children in tow, an extra $20-30 saved at No Frills is worth it. Sometimes, however, our time, sanity, and relationships with our kids requires making the call to spend the extra dough and have a far more pleasant experience. As I always say, experiences are everything and we need to honour ourselves and our kids sometimes by saying "We're worth it."

1 comment:

  1. I love your analogies! For me, The Frills doesn't have the quality of produce and the selection that my Loblaws or Ma necessity for me. I also need the large vegetarian section at Loblaws so I can eat! HAHA!

    It is true that you can save some cash at the Frills but to me its not always worth it. I like a clean store and the Frills around us are really dirty...similar to the old Knob Hills...ugh!

    I have to admit that I keep a low profile at Loblaws when I am sporting the Frills look though! Have done it many times!!

    Thanks for making me laugh...again!