An open letter to Albertson's Supermarkets

Congratulations. You have finally created the most obnoxious shopping
experience in America, outdoing such notable figures as the Dodge dealer
in Davis, CA; the Sears home-improvement jerks, and Sleep Train.

For a long time you followed the time-honored tradition of pumping Muzak
at your customers. I’ve never understood the reasoning behind this. Do
customers hear a “lite-jazz” rendition of Bridge Over Trouble Waters and
suddenly toss an extra ham hock into their carts?

Have you ever, in your whole life encountered one single person who
enjoys supermarket music? Me neither. Which possibly explains why you
took the next step: punctuating the soundtrack of the mundane with radio
ads imploring me to buy more stuff. Come on! I’m already in the store,
buying stuff. Announcing the special on tampons between EZ-listenin’
Steely Dan covers is not going to make me dash to the feminine hygiene

Your audio assault used to be bearable. And the visual noise was tolerable
too. After all, you plaster so many SPECIAL BARGAIN! signs, stickers,
and decals on your walls ceilings and floors that they blend together into
a turgid miasma of meaningless of advercrap.

But the recent combination of audio AND video is too much to bear.
TELEVISIONS in the checkout aisle?!?! It’s like some Orwellian vision
of Hell.

I doubt the decision makers actually set foot inside an Albertson’s
supermarket, so here’s a little exercise you can try at home. Turn on your
radio. Point the tuner to the worst station possible. Now turn on the TV
to the Home Shopping Network. Set the radio and TV to equal volumes.
Obnoxious, isn’t it? Just think how bad it is when you subjected to this in
line, fishing through your wallet, looking for your super-duper saver club

And one more thing, who’s brilliant idea was it to stock sports drinks in
the spot formerly reserved for handing money to the cashier? Find this
person and punch them in the crotch. Hard. Why erect a barrier right
where I’m trying to push money at you? I’m not going to buy sports drinks
just because they are in my way.

As bad as Albertson’s is, what I find most disturbing is where you are
headed. You’ve come so far, I know you aren’t going to stop now. I’m
sure it’s just a matter of time before you institute the following policies:

1) Having overloaded your customers’ senses of sight and hearing, you
will pursue their other senses. Pungent (andcompeting) smells will be
directed at the customers faces using high-pressure, floor-mounted
blowers. Meatloaf, bananas, mouthwash, and dog food will be among
the first “market scents” used.

2) “Advertising to touch” will soon follow. Customers will enter the store
though a curtain of kissably-soft toilet tissue, and exit though a gauntlet of
tough-but-gentle steel wool.

3) Über-perky “personal marketers” will follow customers around the
store. They will suggest which products bear extra consideration and
will hold sale items directly in front of the customers’ faces.

4) Unicycle riding transvestite midgets will careen around the store and
bellow show-tunes into the faces of surprised customers. Once they are
suitably distracted, the “personal marketers” will slip extra items into
customers' carts.

While there is little danger of me visiting Albertson’s again, I urge you to
reverse course before it is too late. Your store is in danger if sucking so
hard that it may collapse on itself, forming a vortex so powerful that not
even light can escape.


Gordon Caulkins


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