I did a 5 year tour in the grocery business. When I first looked for a job I applied everywhere. I had an interview at Taco Bell and In & Out. Taco Bell didn't think I was Taco Bell Material. In the In & Out Interview I went up against this dude who had like 7 years experience, and a lady to brought her baby to the interview and talked about how she needed money for it. (like I could beat that). So I didn't get hired there :)

The first job I got was at a discount Grocery Store called Grocery Outlet. My mama (or mum as the Candians call them) sold the owner his house (she was a real estate agent) and that's how I got the job. It's who you know.

I spent about 3 weeks setting up the story for opening . They had us unloading trucks for 13+ hours a day. It really sucked but I got pretty fast at pricing stuff :)

I worked there the last 2 years of High School. I went away to College and got a job there at the College Market in the Produce Section. I worked there for 2 years and during the summers I'd come back and work at the first grocery store again. I was so bad ass at it that they didn't mind hiring me back every summer. Especially at like $5.50 an hour haha. The last year I worked there was 1996 and I was glad to get the hell away. From that experience I know a crapload about grocery stores. Hearing that I worked there, many people asked for stories about it...

They don't care
The thing I found most funny is the customers who would not like something and start yelling at me the age old phrase: Well I'll go shop at blah blah blah. I always got quite a chuckle out of that. Did they really think I cared if they never came back again? Employees at most Grocery stores have no reason to care. When the buisness does well they don't get any more money. When the business does bad, they may get less hours, or get fired but they still don't care. The only people who care at grocery stores are the managers because they are paid to care. Even so, most of them do not care (they only fake it to your face). The point of this is, you will never get anywhere by threatening to not shop there anymore. If you're a dick, they want you to leave. So never make a fool out yourself by saying something like that. They may fake seriousness on the outside, but they are laughing on the inside. I know I was. "Oh no, you're not going to shop here anymore, oh I'm so hurt." If you don't like a place, don't go there anymore. If you wanna make a real stink about something, find the corporate number and call it. That's the only way you will get anything done.

It's not in the F-ing Back!
I can't tell you how many billions of times some dumb ass would ask me: Is there any more in the back?. About 1/10000000 times there is actually something in the back. Most stores put out everything they got in the shelves out front. If you don't see it, they are out of it. You can always ask them, and sometimes they will go check for you if they are unsure (cuz they don't know their job well) but if they say they don't got anymore, don't be one of those assholes (which is almost always old people or girls) who says "Can you look in the back?" When people would say that to me, I would say we don't have any in the back. And I always knew it was true. If they would give me any shit, I would say ok, walk in the back, get a drink out of the big refridgerator back there, then come out and say nope we don't got it. FU! :)

Do you have any empty boxes?
Oh my goodness. That's like the 2nd most heard phrase other than "is there any in the back?" It seems people are always moving or they always want boxes. When you tell them you don't have any boxes (which is usually true) they give you the famous "oh I'm sure there are some in the back" or "this is a grocery store, I'm sure you have empty boxes somewhere". Let me clue you in. When boxes are emptied they are taken to the back and put in a cardboard cursher. They are crushed into a pallet sized cube at which the cubes of carboard are bailed using bailing wire. Then they are wheeled out and stacked up. The store gets money for the cardboard so they would rather not give boxes away in most cases. It depends on the grocery store. The best boxes are the apple boxes in the produce department because they have lids. If you want to cut a deal with the producer manager, that's your best chance. You can ask, but if the grocery guys say no, leave em alone. Bugging em will get you nowhere. Usually the managers are the best people to ask and they don't like being asked either :)

I only had to be on the register for one summer. I hated it. I hate people and that's the worst freaking spot in the store to work. The first thing you should know is there is an incredible amount of room for error in the prices. You see a price out there and the sign maybe wrong because no one changed it. The price on the product could be the wrong price or the price for something else close to it, then theres the computer thing. The computer has to be updated with new prices which quite often it isn't. If you go to the store and watch your receipts you will find you get screwed on at least one or two things a trip. I think there has been a few dateline episodes on it. The store is so big and there is just so much room for error it's pretty unavoidable.

If you really don't want to be ripped, watch that thing like a hawk and argue. BUT if you do find something wrong, bring it up. If they say that's the right price, agree with them and move on whether it is or not. Some assholes seemed to think that there was some law that says you have to give people the price on it. That maybe a policy of certain grocery stores, but it's no law. Unless they say you can do that, don't try it. If anyone gave me shit, I would just let the manager deal with them. Then go back to my job.

If anyone was a dick to me, I would fuck up their orders, change prices and shit on them. I'd give them the crappy plastic bags and tell them "oh it will hold" hahahahahah.

That's what they got for screwing with me. Don't think other people won't do the same. :) Be as nice as possible to those cashiers because they have to take more shit than anyone else and practically any other job. If you're nice to them they will be nice back.

Have some Patience.
Just quietly wait in line no matter how long is it, no matter how long it takes. If you see the opportunity to change lines fine, but don't yell at the cashier. I had to put up with so many fucking old people who would say shit like "Isn't there any more cashiers?" The deal is that most stores are so cheap that don't hire enough cashiers for the amount of shoppers. Yelling at the cashier isn't going to change that. Normally they don't got anyone else they can call. So it's like TAKE IT. Just leave the cashiers alone, sit there and wait.

Check people. I fucking hated check people. I say this to all you assholes who write checks at stores Fuck you. Checks do not belong at Grocery Stores. They may accept them, but only because they are forced to. Checks take the longest of any option in line. That screws everyone behind you in the line. They have to wait through the long approval process which they wouldn't have to if those check dicks would just bring cash. On top of that, about 50% of the people who used checks never had the proper ID. If you are one of those check assholes, at least learn what ID is needed and bring it. I can't tell you how many assholes who would just give me a check and expect me to take it. Next, on large orders, expect them to call the bank. Most stores have a policy of call the bank over a certain amount. Some real asshole would find out that number or trick the more stupid cashiers into telling them, then plan their orders right to that line (which at my store was $75). If it was like $76, they would ask to take stuff off the receipt. I can't believe the fucking gal of some people. When I called the bank, I'd say about 10-25% of the time, they wouldn't have the money. Then I would (laughing on the inside) say, sorry but that check isn't good. A few times the chicks would cry, but I was immune to their foolish tricks.

One time this old man and old lady came in. They got up to the register and they wrote a check with no id. I said I couldn't take it, and the old lady started crying. The man starts yelling at me George Castanza style, and I called the manager. The guy tried to say I was strong arming the old lady. I was like whatever, went and had a break while the manger dealt with them.

Some assholewould pull the "oh I'll get some money from the ATM" trick then run for it when their checks were no good. I think only 1-2 times someone actually came back with the money in 5 years.

Food Stamps
I learned everything about Food Stamps thanks to the poor people. Here is how it worked, you could buy food, but nothing else. The food stamp people had lots of tricks they would try to pull on me. One trick is to go buy something for like .05 and pay in a Food Stamp One. That way they get 95 cents back so they can go buy drugs and beer. Some really tricky people would have their kids try it. One black guy tried this scam on me. He got like all 5 of his kids and gave each of them a Food Stamp One. Then had them all buy something for 5 cents and told me that he was teaching his kids how to shop. I didn't fall for that one. Kids cannot use food stamps. One little bastard about 10 or so tried to buy some stuff from me. I was like where is your food stamp card. He's like what food stamp card. (Only the person with the card can use food stamps, you must have the card) I was like you can't buy it. So his skag mommy comes in and starts giving me shit and I'm like the law says you have to have the card and I sicked my manager on her. My manager was really awesome. He was this Mexican guy from Compton. He had Aks and all kinds of cool guns. One time he got busted for guns. He always offered to take me out shooting, but I wasn't sure I wanted to or not. (Oh we'll just do a drive by before we go). He would always do the bad cop good cop routine with me. He would make it out like he's yelling at me then we would go laugh later after the customer left.

Back to food stamps. I think about 2% of the people I saw actually looked like they needed food stamps. There were a few obvious people that I was glad food stamps helped them out, but for most of them a mix of Black, White and Mexican people, they were all scamming the system. One day a chick was all begging me for money and gave me some story about how her kid needed to get to some place, then the next day, the bitch comes in and buys like $120 worth of groceries. I was dying to say "hey bitch, did your kid make it?"

Another point, food stamp people always ended up getting better food then the people who paid in cash. They had all the best and most expensive stuff.

Make sure your coupons are current. Unlike Pizza, most stores check the dates very carefully and if they are bad, the manager takes it out of the cashiers hides. So the cashiers have an incentive to police them. I know I got yelled at a few times. There were always these assholes with coupons that were so the way hell out of date or for some totally other product that they were trying to use them for. On top of that, some people would try to use coupons that took more off than the thing actually costed then expected us to give them the product for free.

Other scams include getting a ton of buy 1 get one frees and keep coming back in line over and over because it's one per visit. We got rid of those abusers.

Just because a coupon may be on a thing in the store doesn't mean it's current either. Some people would pull coupons offa something then I'd look at the date and it would be wrong and I'd say this is expired. They would say "it's in the store" or some crap. The prob is somethings come with coupons on it and most of the time the store doesn't have time to have someone remove them all if they are bad. Deal with it.

Coupons can save you money but don't abuse them.

Get the Cold Stuff last
When shopping, get all the frozen and refrigerated stuff last. I can't tell you how many dumb asses would come up and unload a melted thing of ice cream leaking all over. I'd be like you stupid mother fucker (course I wouldn't say that). Then they would say something stupid like "oh this one is melted" and I would end up throwing it away and getting them another one.

Remember Clerks where the guy pulls out all the Milk to find the one with the furthest date? The deal with Milk is they always put the oldest ones out front. They have to that's how it is. So here it's up to you to dig there and find the old ones. One trick I use is to look at all the front Milk for all the different kinds. Find the latest date and shoot for that one for the particular Milk you are looking for. Since Milk usually comes in at the same dates, the oldest date for one kind of Milk is almost always the oldest date their is. If this is just confusing, dig around for the oldest one. Don't be an asshole tho, just take a quick look then grab the oldest one you see.

Make sure you check how much Milk you got at home and the date before shopping.

Grocery Store Carts
Do everyone a favor and take the cart back when you are done. I've always done that since I started working there. The grocery guys will thank you for it. The really poor people would always steal carts. Those carts are like 90$+ a piece I think so the owners don't want to lose them. Often they would send us out around town getting those. THen we when saw the people with the carts it's like give me the cart back you bitch! Actually that never happened but a few times I stopped people I knew were going to steal it.

Anyway back to the point, there are only so many people, and the store is in much better shape (more new stuff out) if the grocery guys don't gotta waste time getting carts. Time saved getting carts is usually spent restocking and straighting the store. Save them some trouble. It will pay off. I remember a few times I caught assholes pushing a cart when they were done as far aways as they could.

Old Stuff
You wouldn't believe the age of some of the stuff in stores. I remember we had some Christmas Captain Crunch. We kept bring it out over and over again. Finally it all sold like 3 years later hahaha.

That frozen food stuff is often really old too. I remember we would get a pallet of something because it was cheap and it would be in there for years till it all sold.

Most stuff isn't that old but check the dates if they have them.

Sales are designed to get rid of stuff they don't want. (Maybe because it's old, canceled or some other reason) OR mainly to bring people in. Stores are willing to take a loss on one product to get you to come into the store and buy others at full price. The way you beat that is to only buy stuff on sale, and to only buy stuff you would normally buy anyway.

A professor said a Sale is not a sale if it gets you to buy something you normally wouldn't buy. Don't be tricked into buying all kinds of stuff just because it's on sale.

Asking to find stuff
Before asking the people to find something for you, do your best to find it yourself. If it was a really stupid question I would always tell people no we don't got it whether we did or not (mostly when they were dicks to me). Grocery people don't have time and often not the desire to show you stuff. If the people were really nice, I would show them where the more hard to find stuff was. If they were asking something really stupid that indicated to me that they were just too lazy to look, I'd jerk them around. I think I've asked for help about 5 times now since I quit Grocery stores :)

Have a Plan
Make your grocery list at home during the week. Then take it with you. It's a whole lot easier to shop when you got a whole list. You go through the list, check stuff off and get the hell out. Clean and simple. You'll find this a whole lot easier than wandering for hours.

New stuff is on the bottom, got to dig. That's about all I can say in 2 years of produce :) Half of the stuff I had no idea what it was. Let's put the green things here and the other things there.

Paper or Plastic
Paper. Unless they double back those with like 2-3, they always break. Don't let those guys tell you otherwise. Go for paper.

If the store has a few club, go for it. No reason not to. Usually they have club prices and regular prices and all you have to do is use your card to join.

What day to go..
Never go Sunday. Sunday is always the busiest day it seems. On on top of that, the store is usually out of everything. Most stores get their new stuff in on Mondays although it depends...

Ralph's club
Ralphs is a grocery store in California. I joined their club, all you have to do is fill out a form and hand it to them. Then you instantly save on all this stuff. If you don't have a card, you don't get any savings. I would recommend joining any clubs your grocery stores have provided they are free. I'm not quite sure the reasoning for them having these, but I think it's because the want to be nazis and track your shopping practices or they think because you belong to that club you'll go there more or something. I was able to get 12 packs of soda for $1.99 by joining their stupid club. I saved $1 at Ralphs too. Take the time and sign up for those things. It's usually worth it. They gave me some key chain thing so I don't gotta carry their card but I can't see putting that on my keys :)

Food Index