Shopping infidelity

Welcome to Shopping Week here on the JMD blog.  For the next five days, expect to see posts on various aspects of shopping and my adventures therein.  Thus, without further preamble…

Up until the last couple years of my life, I have been a faithful shopper indeed.  I touched on this remotely in a previous post, speaking to my brand loyalty to certain products and companies (which reminds me, I need to brush my teeth – with Crest, of course, as I have for over 40 years — right after I finish typing this).

The same loyalty used to also apply to the stores I would shop.  My first ever job was as a bagboy for a Publix grocery store.  That was so long ago, they still allowed tipping and carrying out the groceries for the customer was as common as gas station attendants washing your windows.  Talk about a time warp!

Despite the experience, which ended not altogether pleasantly, I used to buy all my groceries from Publix (except meat and fish, for which I would use Albertsons until they went belly up).  “Back then” we had a general merchandise store called Zayre (akin to today’s K-Mart) and the regular hardware store was a Gold Triangle.

I shopped those until they also went belly up and then switched to Wal-Mart and Home Depot, respectively.  For “upscale” purchases, there was always Burdines.  While they didn’t go belly up, they did get eaten up, by Macy’s, no less.  Eh, not so much.

Things stayed pretty much that way until, released from the bonds of the daily grind, I realized that there simply was no one place that offered the best of everything.  I probably always realized that, but the trade off for convenience and proximity is the sacrifice in quality and satisfaction.

But no longer!  Now, I could travel 30 minutes north to a terrific fresh market and get spectacular produce and fruit (not to mention some specialties from the bakery and deli).  Even at today’s inflated gas prices, the savings in prices exceeded the cost of travel.  And the quality was leaps and bounds better than the chain grocery stores.

A recent addition to our neighborhood filled the gaping void for meats (more on them tomorrow), thus bringing me down to basically shopping the sales at Publix or emergency runs due to proximity (there’s one about 90 seconds from my house).

The same has held true on hard and bulk goods, where the ubiquitous Target has entered as a regular combatant against the one-stop Wal-Mart shopping.  With my home about equidistant between the two popular merchandise stores, it’s usually a toss-up to see which one compels my “supply run” shopping trips.  Both have their virtues and limitations; both share a high percentage of the same goods.

The same mentality has now begun to pervade my brand buying habits.  Though some choices remain unaffected by time (toothpaste, paper products, shaving cream), others have altered based either on price (laundry detergent) or indistinguishable performance (shampoo, washing machine soap).  While this may not sound so revolutionary, you have to understand that my buying habits had changed so little over the previous 25 years as to be nearly imperceptible.

Does this make me disloyal or a smart shopper?  Should I feel a little twinge of guilt when I pass up buying a product at a specific store because I know I’m going to buy a better/different one elsewhere?  Would I revert back to my “buy it because I’m here now” if I returned to having less free time?

Perhaps that’s just overly sensitive.  This just may be one of the rare times that it doesn’t cost you to be unfaithful.

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