Love For Sale

Virtually every retailer has broadcast an in-store announcement that goes something like this:

During these stressful times, we at [fill in the retailer’s name here] are taking every precaution to protect our shoppers and our employees. We are following the appropriate guidelines…” and yadayadayada.

But they’re not.

I have recently ventured out into Coronaville. I’d like to say I did it for blog research, but when you move into a new house, you’re going to need something that Instacart can’t pick out for you. A broom. A smoke detector battery. Some of those sticky felt pads so that your old chair doesn’t scratch the new floor. A kitchen mat. And so forth.

So, like a good soldier, willing to sacrifice everything so that the screen door doesn’t squeak, off I went to battle the pandemic at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Home Goods, Lowes and P.C. Richards (for a dehumidifier), Adams IGA Grocery Store, Whole Foods, Total Wine & More.

It’s a creepy new world. The CDC rules are sort of like the Geneva Convention — they are more or less adhered to depending on the battlefield. I’m here to report my findings.

Stores have nice signage, guidelines, and some sort of handwipes when you enter, though some are harder to find than others. Some signs are visible. At Adams, it’s lost in a sea of local flyers. Lowes virtually herds everyone into a pen. They talk about social distancing, but there is no one at the entry to maintain it. So, it’s more than possible you’re waiting a step away from someone else who just grabbed a wipe, the end of which you will, no doubt, be grabbing in seconds. Most people ignore this sanitizing ritual and march right in crowded together.

Even though all the announcements preach masks, many Lowes customers ignore that. The store associates are wearing masks, but many have their noses exposed. I hate that.

At Lowes, I do not recall any one-way aisle indicators and most customers ignore the six-foot rule. They are in a rush. The checkout lines are scary with little separation. Fingers touch the checkout pads and there are no disinfectants insight.

I signaled to a mask violator, wearing a Yankee cap to my disappointment. He signaled back to me in a non-Covid-friendly gesture as if I were a Red Sox fan.

I’m done with Lowes.

Bed Bath and Beyond gets a B-. There is no one at the main entrance, but there seems to be a general understanding to wait your turn for the hand wiping, which most people do. The main aisles are not marked “one-way” nor are the internal aisles. So, the patrons have to be self-disciplined. Most of them are. There are a lot of “excuse me” and “I’m sorry” going on as shoppers navigate these paths. No “gestures” like at Lowes. There are no staff mask violators but occasional masks-up-to-the-nose shoppers (I don’t get that really). Their check-out procedure is impressive. There are big circles on the floor marking off six feet and every customer dutifully and politely marches forward in unison. They encourage contactless payment and coupon redemptions. There is a plexiglass barrier.

Stay away from Homegoods. It’s the worst. Everyone strolls in together. There are one-way aisles, but everyone violates them. Here’s me telling them, “hey, it’s one way!” I’m getting back at everyone who’s shouted those words to me too often throughout the years. They don’t comply; they laugh as if I’m the crazy one. I wanted to complain to the manager. When I found her, she was one of those that wore her mask half up. Does that mean someone will get infected with Covid-9½? She wasn’t interested in my complaint.

P. C. Richards does a nice job. They regulate the number of the people who come in at the door. The people who wait outside are spaced appropriately. If you don’t have a mask walking in, you are gently reminded to go get one by the greeter. Aisles are spaced well because of their inventory mapping. We wanted to buy a mattress, but trying one out was a bit too dicey for me.

Adams is something else. They have one-way aisles that are totally ignored. One for good reason. I was walking down the aisle the right way. Got to the end and there was no way to go. Each adjacent aisle was going the wrong direction, so you had no choice but to violate it. I wonder whether the mapper spent too much time drinking the Corona in the beer aisle, which, incidentally, wasn’t marked. The dairy stocker had his map on up to his nose, which made me nervous when buying a gallon of milk. A shopper was mask-less and when I noted it, I earned another gesture. Kind of like getting a badge from my Fitbit app.

The manger actually stated he can’t ask customer to wear a mask. I ran into a violator in the parking lot. He said, “what are you worrying about? This is Connecticut. It’s fine. It ain’t Texas.”

Peggy had a good experience at Whole Foods. They ration the patrons who must wait outside to limit the people in store. There are no more self-serve, prepared-food stations. The lines at the various departments like fish and meat are manageable. The checkout was also smooth and contactless. The customers were very compliant. It is Whole Foods, after all.

I save the best for last.

It’s totally contactless, yet you go to the store. It’s Total Wine and More. Here’s how it works. You use a super easy-to-navigate app and pick your booze and pay online. Great selection; great price. (You’d think I’m one of those paid influencers. I wish.) They text you when your order is ready. You pull into a space in front of the store. Text them back that you’re there. Show your ID from your window. They put your order in the trunk. Shut the truck and you go from Coronaville to Margaritaville in minutes.

My kind of shopping.

Cheers.

-0-

Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet

Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me a real cool version by Tedeschi Trucks Band

Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me the Harry Nilsson version

Love For Sale by Ella Fitzgerald

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Entrepreneur, Founder of CRN International and Connecticut Radio Network, Writer, Broadcaster.

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Barry Berman

Barry Berman

Entrepreneur, Founder of CRN International and Connecticut Radio Network, Writer, Broadcaster.

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