Dear Green Valley Market,
I'm sorry. I'm a shoplifter. I think... maybe... I'm not sure, which is why I'm writing this letter. You see, well, it's this whole "Kids Month Club" thing you've got going on. The rules say ONE slice of cheese, ONE cookie, ONE apple per month. But who's keeping count? I'm not. Sure, it's a great marketing idea-- free cookies and apples are one of the primary reasons I shop at Green Valley versus Walmart (well, that and the fact that I don't have to worry about losing my children forever), but there's really no way for me to keep track of how many times per month I've gone into the store and whether or not I've hit my monthly allotment of cookies, cheese, and apples. Well, no easy way that doesn't involve me remembering one more thing.
Let me break this down for you. Simply put, the moment my children (I have four, I must admit) set foot through those sliding doors they ask "Can we go get a cookie?" And pretty much every time I say yes. The "get a cookie from the bakery" thing was standard with your predecessor, so that's seven years of habit, ever since we moved here, that's hard to kill. And I know the cookies probably don't cost you a lot and they do keep kids happy and well-behaved-- and since happy, well-behaved kids mean content, relaxed mothers who can spend more time shopping, resulting in more money in your wallet- I see why you've kept this policy around. Good move, GV. Keep the free cookies coming.
And the cheese thing-- well, it's sort of a pain, so I seldom do that. I don't feel like standing there at the cheese counter
- waiting for the deli person to not be busy
- trying not to feel like a starving moocher who can't feed her children and, therefore, must get free cheese from the deli counter
- trying to convince the children that "Yes, that IS cheese, even if it doesn't come in plastic wrap"
- trying to convince the children that continued begging will not get me to buy them a slice of meat also
- reminding the children that it's only ONE piece of cheese and NO, just because you thought green and red spots on the cheese looked pretty and now you find out it's disgusting, you may not have a different piece.
So, I seldom get cheese.
It's the apples. Those delicious apples that make me feel like I'm stealing. Sure, I know that you mark-up prices and that in the grand scheme of things you probably don't even notice the loss; but I can't help but feel guilty-- like all eyes are on me-- each time I let the kids grab an apple (most often a Golden Delicious or a rosy Pink Lady- they are so good!) and start munching as we walk through the store. By the time we hit check-out they are usually down to the core, and I'm herding them through the line to wait for me on the bench, hoping the cashier doesn't call me an apple-picking thief or worse as she starts counting up apple cores in little hands. (Cashiers intimidate me: I'm still a little traumatized from the time a cashier asked for my foodstamp card. When I informed her I wasn't on foodstamps her response was "but you have four kids!". On another note, I may have discovered what's wrong with our economic system.)
For a while, in order to not feel guilty about all the apples I was literally walking out of the store with I would buy a bag of apples to go along with the "once a month free" apples, but I've since discovered that my children only enjoy apples when they are fresh off the produce shelf. Once home, they have little or no interest in doing anything with them other than dropping them to see how quickly they bruise, planting them to see if trees grow in laundry baskets, or watching them slowly rot in the fruit bowl on my kitchen table.
And please don't misunderstand my apple-stealing as grossly and intentionally irresponsible. I do try to be responsible in my "free apple" abuse. If I'm only running in for milk I don't let the kids get apples. If I'm spending very little money in general, I don't let the kids get apples, calling it a "quick trip". However, there was that time that I had a day full of errands, kids complaining of hunger, no time to go home for lunch and no money to eat lunch out-- so I stopped in at GV, bought a gallon of milk and told the kids they had three minutes to get from the produce to the deli to the bakery and back into the car. Lunch served-- and a healthy lunch, at that. That may be considered irresponsible, if you choose to look at it like that.
So, to sum it up. By my count we probably take about 12 free apples out of your store each month when, by the rules of the Kids Free Month club we should only take 4. Since we've probably only known about free apples for, oh what, six months? --that's 48 apples, which probably equals to about $15 to $20. Is my math right? So I want to publicly apologize for that and also let you know, well, chances are good that by the end of the year I'll owe you another $10.
A loyal shopper
PS. Thank you for moving some milk to the front of the store. That's not such a great marketing idea, since you probably lose at least thirty bucks each time I run in for milk and actually JUST get milk, but it is kinder to my wallet and doesn't involve a walk past the produce stand. So thank you.