Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Recent Shopping Experiences – Del Amo Swap Meet, Fresh and Easy, Winco Foods

On one of my days off a couple of weeks ago I finally went to the Del Amo indoor swap meet which was only a couple of miles from where I live. I haven’t been to a swap meet in decades and the ones I’ve been to were outdoors and were only open once a week. I don’t know if those still exist though. I didn’t know what to expect when I went in the building. I noticed that there was a tattoo parlor, piercing booths, car accessories store, tiny eateries, smoke shops where bongs were being sold. Most of the stores sold clothing, women’s undies, and jewelry. After browsing along every aisle and finding nothing interesting to buy, I left with mild disappointment. I found that he prices were not any lesser than regular stores.
A few days later, I visited a newly opened Fresh and Easy store in Long Beach. I usually go to the one in Lakewood which has been open a couple of years. After picking up the items I needed, I scanned them at the check stand (it’s self service). When it was time to pay, I tried to insert money where it was supposed to be inserted but it wouldn’t go in. It’s not my first time using a self service check stand so I thought the machine was malfunctioning. There was a message on the screen but I failed to read it completely only making note of what it said about EBT which I wasn’t using. One of the employees finally saw my plight and assisted me by pressing the number zero on the keypad. I sheepishly thanked him. It turns out that because of the new law which requires shoppers in Long Beach to bring reusable bags, the screen was actually telling me if I wanted to purchase one and how many I wanted. Well, I didn’t read the whole thing so I missed it. Thus my sheepish reaction. At the Lakewood store, the check stand machine never gave that message because Lakewood doesn’t have a reusable bag law. Lesson for me: read the whole message first, duh! BTW, I always bring reusable bags.
Last weekend I went to the newly opened Winco Foods grocery store in Lakewood to check out what they had to offer. It’s similar to a Sam’s Club or Costco but without the membership fee. When I first saw the prices in the first few aisles, I was underwhelmed because they were not much different from other grocery stores. That is, until I reached the part of the store with the bulk bins! After seeing a lot of the candy being sold at 99 cents a pound, I was literally like kid in a candy store. Toffees, caramels, salt water taffy, fruit flavored hard candy, and gummies were among the ones I remember. Other aisles featured cereals, grains that I only used to see in health food stores, beans, and pet food. I always wondered what black rice was like and I found something similar which was black colored wild rice. I don’t know if those two are one and the same. Finding it in that store really surprised me, but what surprised me further was how much it costs: $7.45 a pound! I think I’ll stick to brown rice. My intent was to just look around and scout the store but the temptation of all those goodies was too hard to resist so I ended up buying about a pound and a half each of the caramel and fruit flavored candies. Gladly, I didn’t find any other irresistible products so I finally found myself at the check stand. The cashier rang me up and asked me if the candy was for Halloween. I said no, just for myself. Well, what I said must have been a distraction because the total came up to almost $300.00. Oops, the cashier had to summon a supervisor to override and correct the register. It turns out that when the cashier tried to punch in a 6 cent rebate for bringing my own grocery bags, she pressed the wrong button. No harm, no foul. Things got corrected in a jiffy and I was soon on my way home with 3 pounds of candy. Too bad, they didn’t sell any frozen durian at that store.
A week later, I went back to Winco to buy more candy but what I bought the previous week wasn't on sale any more. I incorrectly thought that it was the every day low price. It appears that they switch products perhaps once a week. On this trip I kept looking for green tagged products which were sale priced items. I didn't find any that I needed but I bought 4 pounds of  pearl barley which is a grain that is high in protein. If there is a downside for me regarding Winco, it's that it is not male-shopper friendly because they don't have weekly sale circulars that come in the mail, so you have to go from aisle to aisle looking for green tagged products. You know how most guys shop: go to the store, find what you need (preferably if it's on sale), pay for it, then leave. 
          Well, that's all I have to say about these shopping expeditions. I hope it was interesting enough for you to read, if not, so sorry.

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