Grocery stores should be straightforward places, right? We go in, we pick up our groceries, we pay, we leave, we go home, we cook our food... and that's the end of that until the next shopping trip. We surely don't expect to run into anything downright unprofessional or just gross? Right?
Well, nothing is sacred, as we learned after today's burning question from Redditor Catnip_Tea, who asked the online community: "What are some dark secrets about grocery stores?"
"I worked at a chain grocery store..."
I worked at a chain grocery store years ago. We had this awful smell down one particular isle. The manager never wanted to investigate and would just say something must have spilled. She even went as far to have us hang air fresheners on the shelves to mask the smell. Several years later the store underwent a remodel where isles were moved. They found a giant rats nest under the shelving unit of this particular isle. It was one of the most disgusting things ever. Once they cleaned it out the smell finally resolved.
"No idea what was in it..."
I worked at a "heath food grocery" in Florida when I was in college. About 90% of the money the store made was from supplements, not food. The food was to get people to come in and do all of their shopping at one place. Also, we had a semi-secret, cash only product kept in the back office that was a drink to help you pass drug tests. No idea what was in it, but I sold at least 20 bottles per week.
"The only thing..."
The only thing that washes a shopping cart is rain. We do haul trash bags in them.
Often times the customer trash cans are just mixed because the janitor sure as hell isn't digging out that bottle you thew in the compost. Everything just goes in the dumpster.
Most of the time the rewards cards did nothing at the chain I worked at.
"Worked as a night stocker..."
Worked as a night stocker and checker at a Kroger and the number one stolen thing was meat. Every night all over the store you find open packages of meat hidden everywhere or just checked under shelves.
I did service desk, and the meat and cheese returns angered me the most.
Those big strips of pork ribs or brisket are easy to slide under a coat or pants. They ring in at just under $20, so people know you have to take them back. I heard every iteration of "oh we didn't need it, but it's still cold!" Even so, it's going in the trash.
At least the batteries or cosmetics I can just put back on the shelf.
"Apples can be stored..."Giphy
Apples can be stored in proper conditions for close to a year and still be sold at the supermarket.
So that apple you're buying in May is most likely from sometime the year prior.
"Grocery store managers..."
Grocery store managers are very prone to being bribed by businesses when it comes to slot space.
I was talking with a coworker at a part time furniture store job I had a few years back. Guy was retired and used to manage grocery stores.
I ask him about it and he starts talking about all the free sh!t he got from Coke, Pepsi, Nestle, all sorts of big companies. They would offer him free Falcons tickets, flights to resorts all over the place, etc.
Why? Because when they offered him this stuff he gave them more space on the shelves. Coke wants 5 feet more shelf space? Sure thing, just send me some tickets to see the Eagles next Saturday!
Even when companies started cracking down on it they'd just send gifts to his family.
"I work in retail bakery."
I work in retail bakery. We don't make anything from scratch. Everything comes in frozen. We just bake it or thaw them out before putting them on the shelves. Cakes are pre-made we just put icing and decorations. Lots of customers don't like that our products are kept in the freezer.
We waste A LOT of food.
Quality inspectors at grocery warehouses tear open bags, cut open fruits and veggies, and stick thermometers in meat and chicken. That all gets thrown away.
When meat products especially are above a certain temperature, they get discarded too. I was once responsible for getting rid of over $100,000 worth of meat due to temperature.
Made the warehouse discard $10,000 worth of strawberries that went moldy in the warehouse. Didn't even get to the store.
The dudes in the meat department always have drugs.
"Most big chain supermarkets..."
Most big chain supermarkets have really shoddy buying practices. The big one is for anything that is prone to spoilage, they'll leave it sit at the warehouse until it starts to rot then claim "spoilage" and negotiate for cheaper prices. The growers have no choice but to accept the lower price and the store pays 16 year olds minimum wage to go through all of the produce and remove the rotten ones.
Rotten watermelons are fucking foul.
"They had a specific night..."Giphy
My first job was working at a grocery store. A few weeks before a planned ad launched, the stock team would reprice the items in the ads and mark them up, so the sales price was only a few cents less than the original, non-sale price. They'd do this in advanced and cycle through the store marking up items before they went on sale, then shortly after the sale went off, the prices would be lowered again. They had a specific night a week where the stock team would stay overnight to reprice everything.
"And just to make it clear..."
This is more of a dark secret of store waste but...
A good deal of grocery stores, not all, have to throw out bulk if you put it into the bags but don't buy it. Like if you scoop some gummy bears into a bag, for example, and get to the till and say you don't want it now, it gets thrown out because it could have been tampered with.
Also any form of "Pharmacy" product that is consumed (vitamins for example) or used for healing wounds, think neosporin and the like gets thrown out because it could be tampered with, if you return it.
And just to make it clear I'm talking about stuff that is sealed on return, no store will put any of this back on the shelf if they are opened, well no non-shady store at least, lol.
"There is a reason..."
I have worked in grocery stores for about 18 years. With 10 of them being in management. There are too many to list so I will give a couple. I would say 95 - 98% of customer complaints just get ignored. Almost every time someone will give you your money back just so you come back and spend more money. When you say you will never come back. We don't believe you.
Most grocery stores have a net profit of about 2-3%. The really good ones can get up around 10% (although rare). Just think about that. There is a reason you don't see enough registers open when you shop. Labor is the #1 controllable expense.
I personally never use self check because they are taking a job from another person. Plus they breakdown easily and I have had to fix them too many times.
There is a reason why things are in specific places in most stores. Like fresh produce right when you walk in, or dairy all the way in the back corner of the store. Ever wonder why sugary kids cereals are on the bottom shelves? Its so kids see them.
There are so many tricks grocery stores use to get you to buy more items. This isn't even the tip of the iceberg.
"I would highly advise you..."
I would highly advise you to refrain from getting anything in bulk from the "scoop" bins. Only get it if it's in the pull down gravity bins.
I've seen so many bare hands grabbing items from those things.
Nuts are expensive, and I've seen "contained" items taken to the back and brought right back out after it's been "dumped and replaced."
"I used to work..."
I used to work in a regional chain in the meat department. It wasn't too bad but there was this one practice that bothered me.
Never. Ever. Ever. Buy 80% or less ground beef. In our store all they did is toss all the waste trimmings into the meat grinder, with a sirloin steak for color.
"At my store..."
At my store we use the shopping carts to carry our garbage (small ones and big ones). Because of how cheap our bags are we usually have leakages (especially in our deli). I cringe every time I see someone throwing a non covered item into a cart, like a fruit or something.
"Worked for a grocery store..."
Worked for a grocery store for 5 years, also had friends that worked in different stores and the thing that all these stores have in common is that all of them have rats and cockroaches.