Have you tried the new supermarket which sells other supermarkets' products? | Alun Newman
A new supermarket has opened near where I live. It sells food that is from other supermarkets and all the food has only a few days left of shelf life.
Sometimes only one day is left of either the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ variety.
At first glance, the supermarket’s set-up is a standard shopping experience.
In fact, if you wouldn’t know it was an end-of-life specialist.
It wouldn’t hit you until you clocked all the different brands and the slightly limited and curious selection.
You’d be asking ‘why is this chicken from Marks & Spencer only two quid’ and ‘why are all these sausages from Morrisons fifty pence’.
Then you would notice that you had about an hour left to either cook them or freeze them and still have a clear food conscience.
I think it’s a good idea. It could be argued these companies are producing too much food, but that’s no easy nut to crack.
Having a means of offloading the product stops it from going to waste.
There’s also the volume issue. A local charity can’t cope with 500 pork chops with 20 minutes left to find new homes.
Even the 300 tubs of hummus that have got only two days before dipping is outlawed, would be a push to sell.
So until the way we shop changes then too much is a by-product of too much.
Those challenges aside, it was great fun in the new supermarket.
It reminded me of my formative years at Safeway (remember Safeway?).
Before the days of the barcodes, everything was priced up with the ‘price gun’.
They were labelling machines of such power that one decimal point in the wrong place could give someone the bargain of a lifetime.
When you were discounting, you had not only the pressure of pricing but also the omnipresent ‘shopping hawker’.
The ‘hawker’ is a professional shopper who knows the top tricks and tips of the sellers.
The ‘hawker' hears the squeal of the trolley jack’s wheels carrying new goods to the chiller section.
The fresh stack of green boxes being moved in the store catches the attention of the professional shopper.
This store had plenty of ‘hawkers’.
Everything going out on to the shop floor was a potential bargain. These shoppers not only knew a discount deal. They knew the prices from different retailers.
They could decide whether a nearly out-of-date pizza from M&S was a deal at £1.50. It took them seconds to deduce that the Tesco Crustless Quiche at 40p was on the money.
This store was full of people who knew this retail sector intimately.
When I was at Safeway, if you were discounting the meat (probably Saturday as they were shut on a Sunday!) it could get very tense.
So much so, that if there was a lot of meat, the crowds could get so feisty that you were allocated one of the team from Wines and Spirits as a supermarket bouncer.
As a testament to being the teenage powerhouse of a man I was in those days an old lady pushed me back into the fridge in order to get to a reduced piece of Silverside.
Humiliatingly, I was relieved from the duty as I couldn’t cut the mustard and couldn’t cope with the professional ‘hawkers’.
As I was so flimsy I was probably a health and safety risk so I was demoted to crisps and snacks (oh, the shame).
Amazingly I was demoted to what turned out to be an easier task.
It’s tough out there on the supermarket floor.
YOU’D GET LESS FOR MURDER…
Mrs Newman and me have been married for more than 700 years. True story: Julius Caesar was a page boy at our wedding.
We hit one of those curious ‘key’ anniversary dates last week. I’ve never understood why certain numbers mean more than others and are more celebrated. The only thing that matters is the gift. Look happy. Stop talking.
As this anniversary was deemed significant we took a few days away. I didn’t book the chosen location and was happy to go along with whatever was picked. However, I did wonder afterwards if my wife’s subconscious was somehow at work.
For we stayed in a converted, very old, prison. Even the bedroom doors were original, still with the cast iron set into the ancient oak. The food hatch was sealed permanently shut but visible as a reminder. The key to open the door had to be turned one way then reversed to enter. It was as if you were cracking a safe.
There were pictures of previous inmates, in black and white, on the stairway walls. A brief synopsis of their story and their sentence. Sure it was beautiful, clean and quirky. The previous guest didn’t get an en suite like the one we had.
Yet throughout the whole thing my wife never referenced the location. Everyone who had stayed there in the past had been trapped. They wanted to escape but could not. Finally, I plucked up the courage to ask. Was this a message? Turns out it wasn’t. It was because it was under £80 and had five-star reviews.
A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.
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