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bloom ate my food Lion

December 12, 2006

okay, granted, food lion was never a paragon of grocery retailing. in fact, it was pretty low down on the proverbial food chain (if you’ll excuse the pun). but despite the fact that diet suplements not only shared an aisle with candy but was set on the same wall, it really was the only game in town out here in the sticks.

plus, it was like only a mile from my house.

now, alot of people in my area are confused by the bloom/food lion initiative. let me clear some things up. first of all bloom, food lion, and bottom dollar are all owned by the same company. i won’t speak on bottom dollar at the moment, because frankly i am still a little in awe of the fact that anyone was able to ghetto down a food lion, but they did it, and they did it in spades.

so all around town our trusty, dysfunctional food lions are either being turned into ghettoed out bottom dollars or progressive and hip blooms. and i will say this, the blooms are pretty. they have fresh seafood cases (that’s a new thing down here). and dietary supplies are with the other vitamins, suplements, etc…rather than with the candy.

their customer service, however, sucks.

first of all, there is no parking close to the store anymore.

with ten aisles of parking, no less.

why? because instead of the obligatory first-row handicap spots near the entrance and exits (there used to be four of those, now there are eight), we also now have parking spaces for *parents with children* (as opposed to the other kind) and the *20 minute express shopper* (formerly none of either of those, now there are eight of each).

for those following along at home, the math comes up to 20 formerly available parking spaces close to the store now reserved in perpetuity, and (angry making) they are usually empty.

now, i get wanting to cater to families. it’s a grocery store. but who sets aside special parking for the guy who is just running in to get a toothbrush?

once you get inside and start shopping, you find out who is paying for this lovely new store, because prices have gone up about 10-15 percent on average. but you see alot of friendly faces and can actually get help with your selections, the quality of which is somewhat better than it once was. customer service as you shop is actually fairly good.

it’s at the checkout lines that they get you. they have replaced the ten checkouts they once had with four self-check outs and four regular check outs. so they presumablly want more shoppers to come to their new store but have got rid of two registers, and (just to piss people off) have turned half of the remaining registers into self service machines.

now, if i have an item or two i’ll grant you that self check out can actually be convenient. where it becomes inconvenient is when there are not other options. at night and early in the morning (bloom is a 24/7 store) there are no cashiers, but there is a guy there to make sure you don’t try to cheat on the self check out. the rest of the day they will have one or two lines open and a herd of people trying to force unwilling shoppers to use the self check out to thin down the lines, offering to show them how and swearing up and down how easy it is…

…instead of just opening up a bloody register and ringing people out/bagging to move things along.

the other night i went through self check out with about 80 bucks in groceries. i went through there because no lines were open. four employees stood twenty feet away at the ‘customer service’ desk chatting. no one came over to bag or help me ring out.

so not only am i paying more, i am getting less service.

the bloom business model :: customers are too lazy to go the extra two miles to giant. they will keep coming here no matter how badly we treat them and we will prosper.

so far, near as i can tell, they are right.

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