At the grocery store…

So I stopped into a new grocery store this morning after taking Jesse to school. As I walked in the door, I saw about half a dozen manager-types  huddled over to the left and a girl restocking the produce bins on the right. As soon as I entered, they all stopped, turned to me, and said, “Welcome to (name of their store)!”

And I thought….”This is a little creepy, folks.”

That feeling persisted as the managers finished their meeting, scattered different directions, and greeted me every time they saw me throughout the store with some of the biggest, widest smiles I have ever seen and a “Welcome to ____ ____!”

At another store a few months ago, I heard a manager who was training someone say that whenever they passed within ten feet of a customer, they were supposed to greet them.

I guess that is better than workers who ignore you or seemed bothered if you ask for help, and I imagine that’s what the powers that be who make these policies are trying to combat. But the fake friendliness or commanded friendliness just bothers me for some reason. I like natural friendliness. If I happen to come across the path or come next to a worker where it would be normal and natural to speak, that’s fine. But to paste on a cheesy grin and state a standard greetings within ten feet of any customer just seems so strange and unnatural, especially to be greeted so several times throughout the store. After a while I just wanted to say, “Please just leave me alone and let me shop in peace!”

So am I just antisocial? Or too crabby to shop so early in the morning? 🙂 Does anyone else think this is weird, or do you like and appreciate it?

And I know, I know, there are bigger things in the world to be concerned about, and I’m not complaining per se — just wondering if other people share my “stray thoughts” about fake over-friendly greetings.

16 thoughts on “At the grocery store…

  1. That does sound a bit odd I must say. I like going into Safeway real well. They don’t have the standard greeting but they always ask if they can help you and if you need to find anything. I really appreciate that. But to always say the same standard greeting and nothing else…

  2. haha!

    I think I like the genuine friendliness better. I had an over zealous sales clerk try to help me the other day, but it came across as fake and so I’d rather have just been left alone. At the same time, I appreciate employers who are trying to train their employes to be friendly. We owned a store when we first got married and teaching our employes to CARE about the business was extremely exhausting and frustrating. So, I see both sides. But I prefer the genuine, yes!

  3. I love you and your stray thoughts! Hehehe! I totally get what you’re saying. I could maybe guess the store too…hmmm… I always shop on Monday mornings with two rosey cherubs in tow. I have picked my favorite “genuine, friendly” workers…and I seek them out for help. I figure those managers are being paid to be hyper weird! HA!

  4. Okay, I’m wondering where it is you live.
    At first, I thought I knew the store you were talking about because that is their policy. I’ve never noticed an insincere greeting, though. Maybe because your store was new and the employees had not gotten in the habit of greeting customers, it sounded fake.
    I have to say, I like the policy and the training that goes into that practice in the store I was thinking about.
    I have been waited on by cashiers carrying on conversations with the bag person but totally ignoring me while they tallied up my groceries. I’ve had cashiers talking on cell phones while they are supposed to be waiting on me. And I have had to go round up someone to get things off a high shelf or something to heavy for me to lift who acted like they were put upon for having to do it. All this at other stores than the one I mentioned.
    Honey Bear refuses to check out with people who ignore him. He will call them by name if they have a name tag and stand there until they acknowledge him.
    I guess that is my thought on the matter.

    • Yes, I did say in my third from last paragraph that this was preferable to the kinds of things you describe. But being greeted in unison by 7 people when I walk in the door makes me feel embarrassed and put on the spot, and every employee greeting me every time they see me throughout the store is overkill.

  5. I absolutely share your stray thought this time! Greet me… ONE time. Do not greet me again – or even talk to me unless I come looking for you to ask a question! And that goes for grocery stores, clothing stores, shoe stores, Walmart stores, Hallmark stores or ANY OTHER store! Be friendly, but do not stalk me! LOL!

  6. I had just been noticing the same thing at the Food Lion near my house. Must be new policy there. 🙂 They weren’t unfriendly to begin with!

  7. Barbara, you always have the most interesting posts! 🙂 Fake and I don’t go together… I am afraid I have to quote Mr. Darcy here… “Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence”… 😉

    Have a great night!

  8. I like the Safeway Thom was talking about. The staff was always around and always willing to help, but I don’t recall ever feeling like their attitudes were forced. I just recall that morale in that store was always high and the workers seemed genuinely happy.

  9. I agree. You can tell when it’s real. I giggled at the picture you put in my mind, tho’, of all of them turning around at the same time and saying that. Like robots or something.

  10. At first I may have been amused, but then I would have been annoyed. It’s nice to be acknowledged, but it can be a bit too much. At one of our stores there was a man that worked in produce that was just too overly friendly. He’d follow you around and ask you questions. After a while it creeped me out a bit.

  11. It definitely seems like way too much attention being paid to each shopper. But that may be the point of the whole exercise. If anyone comes in to the store thinking about shoplifting (which is becoming more of a problem in this economy), they will think twice when they know that the employees are taking notice of the customers, not just as the customers enter the store but also as they move through the store.

    That said, it would be good if the employees could muster up a little more authenticity in their greetings.

    And, like you, it makes me grouchy to have that much attention focused on me as I’m shopping — which is something I consider a personal exercise, albeit in a public arena.

  12. Is the store called “Stepford Grocery”? 🙂

    I don’t think I’d like that. I like it better when store staff are approachable if you need help, but leave you alone otherwise.

  13. Makes me wonder what they are up to…like you caught them in the middle of something and they feel guilty so they cover up with a greeting. Probably not, but that’s the feeling I got.

  14. That sounds like definite overkill to me, Barbara, and, I, like you, appreciate a friendly welcome but then leave me alone and let me shop. If I need help, I’ll ask for it.
    Some people in retail do go a bit overboard, as do some waiters/waitresses. Servers constantly coming to your table can make a meal as unpleasant as one that never comes back without being asked.

  15. I prefer natural friendliness and not some corporate-imposed rule on its employees. And having so many people greeting me at the same time in unison WILL creep me out.

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