I’m a Pak’nSlave to Supermarket Shopping by Emily Smart
Cutting our Cloth and Tightening our Belts
The boss has issued a new dictate, citing that due to budgetary constraints, I can no longer do the grocery shop at New World. This was spurred on by a TV ad for a downmarket competitor offering conclusive proof of a $34 saving. I have been told in no uncertain terms that Pak’nSave (the aforementioned downmarket competitor) will be my supermarket of choice (or should that be coercion?).
For those of you that don’t live in New Zealand, let me explain a little about the three shopping options for the 4 million people that live on the other side of the world:
New Zealand Supermarket Options
This brand of retail outlets dreams of being a Waitrose type of shopping experience. It isn’t. Whilst it’s probably on a par with Waitrose’s pricing policy i.e. ridiculously expensive, the quality and anticipatory service that the latter offers is missing. If you wander in for a ‘top up’ shop, you can be assured that you will leave some time later with one bag of assorted groceries and an 8 pack of bog roll, 75 notes lighter.
Never pop-in for a ‘distress purchase’; seriously, it’s quicker, easier to park and cheaper at the local dairy.*
*Dairy is the word they use here to describe what I would call the local corner shop.
I love New World. They offer quality, choice, fruit and vegetables that have been water blasted and the new bakery at my local one makes 10 ounce jam donuts that are the mutt’s nuts. It isn’t as costly as Countdown, but you get your bags packed (at mine they employ people with disabilities to do this, so they must be a good, trustworthy company or perhaps exploitative beyond measure).
Farewell New World, it’s been wonderful.
Anything that isn’t spelt properly and has an ‘n’ in its name is gonna be dodgy. Some call it Push’nShove, but I prefer Pak’nStab – not that I’m saying it’s rough or anything, but I have had to extend my life insurance to allow for a fortnightly shop there.
My ‘local’ store is fecking miles away, so no doubt any money saved on groceries is spent on petrol to get me there. The branding for the chain is black lettering on bright yellow and the ‘star’ of the TV commercial is a hand drawn stickman. Apparently, they don’t waste money on advertising so that they can pass on store savings to punters. They don’t waste money on hygiene and employing staff without acne, but perhaps I’m just being churlish.
The Pak’nSave Shopping Experience
Let me take you through my last shopping experience. I’m doing this for two reasons: one to make my partner pity me and to withdraw the dictate detailed above, and two, it’s cheaper writing this than seeking professional counselling.
After negotiating the usual mass bundle of people choosing fruit and vegetables – why do people have to sniff, fondle and generally fiddle with fruit? I blame it on Nigella. Also, why do the produce managers encourage shoppers to remove the outers of corn on the cob before placing them into their trolleys? Bottle neck springs to mind.
Next I successfully managed to get the attention of the chap behind the deli counter – deli counter staff without fail will pretend to be busy fiddling with coleslaw so as not to serve you – to give me 15 Cheerios – in English this translates as bright pink plastic looking cocktail sausages. To his credit, he actually gave me 15. Without being too harsh, some of the more numerically dyslexic deli staff can give me anything from 7 to 23 small sausages.
I moved onto the chilled aisle and immediately noticed a woman shopper with a five o’clock shadow. I looked for the obligatory Adam’s apple and big hands, but nope, she was a woman, who had probably had a full on face shave that morning and would need to reapply the shaving foam later that night. I wondered whether there was a circus in town when I rounded the cereal aisle and came across an old man, wearing sunglasses, a dress, clutching a handbag and saying to his helper ‘Jonny doesn’t need bread today.’
The rest of the shop was fairly uneventful after that. The usual screaming kids which drives me mad and I shake my head in that knowing way that all mothers do. This is so bad of me, as there have been plenty of times when I have had my three monsters charging about like lunatics in the aisles. How many times have I had to stop myself from stabbing those who offer disapproving looks, and tut tuts?
On the home strait was the woman who was intent on parking her trolley up my arse. Why do people follow me so closely in the supermarket and invade my personal space? It’s annoying. Stop it. Due to the licensing laws at my local Pak’nDieofBoredom, you can’t buy booze at the main tills and so have to go into a separate alcohol aisle and pay for any goods there. I couldn’t be bothered. I was rapidly losing the will to live.
By the time I had reached the check-out, I was more than ready for a Snickers bar and a well earned lie on the sofa. Not so. The concept of Pak’nSave is that you pack your own groceries and therefore save money. At the till, you unpack your groceries onto a conveyor belt, watch helplessly as the cashier re-packs it all straight into a waiting trolley, which you then take to another part of the store to pack into bags you brought from home. It defies logic.
I paid for the goods, grabbed my Snickers and went to pack my own bloody bags as a whiff of urine accompanied me on my onward journey (not mine I hasten to add). Did I save any money? Probably a couple of quid. However, this doesn’t take into account the additional petrol required, the increased insurance premiums for my life, the bad back from heaving goods and re-packing bags and the calories gained from having to eat a Snickers bar to assuage my mental distress.
I can only pray that Tesco expands to New Zealand (with or without horse meat products) and shows the stickman how grocery shopping can be an affordable, pleasant experience.