Your daily Letter to the Columnist — Dec. 6, 2012
Almost exactly a year ago, I went through this problem with my large Kroger store in Daleville. They rearranged probably 2/3 or more of the products in their inner isles. Much smaller rearrangements by this store in the past had made me angry enough, but this called for a response.
A little Google research revealed two things. First, in grocery speak, this activity is called a “reset”, as in “Take the catsup from the condiments area and reset it in the beans area, which is now in the old baking section.” Second, although the store manager might spin some story about improved customer convenience, a reset is, in fact, done almost exclusively to increase store sales volume and profit.
As you point out, a reset results in dazed customers wandering around aimlessly and likely to see and buy products not on their list and often not needed at all.
As a manipulated and decidedly inconvenienced customer, I was, as they say, mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it any more. I decided to leave Kroger and switch to a slightly closer, and far smaller, Food Lion.
Before doing that, I wanted Kroger to know what they were losing and why. I actually went back through my checkbook register for the previous two years and calculated that losing me would cost Kroger about $300 a month (for one adult human and two cats). That’s small potatoes in the big picture, but big enough for a Roanoke regional manager to call when they got my separation e-mail in Cincinnati and apologize for the “timing” of the reset and ask me to reconsider. Apparently not big enough, though, to promise never to reset again.
I could not be happier. The Food Lion is maybe 25% of the size of the Kroger store, and I have had to give up a lot in product variety and size choices. But the store has everything I need along with that old Mick-or-Mack feel. The staff are helpful and seem to remember me. And even if they reset the entire store, it won’t take all that long to relearn it.
Maybe I did not teach Kroger a lesson, but I learned one. You can go home again, back to the days of almost neighborhood grocery stores.