Locally Owned Stores

First and  foremost I want to start by saying that this post is intending to put a positive light on smaller locally owned stores not put a negative light on larger retailers.

Now with that out of the way I want to tell you about my grocery and food shopping habits which have changed tremendously over the last 20 years.

There are so many options out there for us as consumers that sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.

I work as a Bakery Manager in a relatively smaller grocery store considering the mega grocery store options in our county such as Tops, Wegmans, and Super Walmart.

Recently there was an article in our local newspaper featuring our store, Caledonia Marketplace, which focused on the changes that have been happening in the store as well as changes that will be coming in the next few months. Exciting changes for us as employees and to you the consumer.

I bring this article up because some of the comments have been extremely positive about our changes but some comments still make it clear that shopping at a smaller retailer is cost prohibitive.

The reputation of a smaller store is that it just can’t compete with the “Big Boys.” That goes for any type of retail store whether it is an appliance store, furniture store, hardware store, etc. The mentality of many general consumers seems to lean towards one-stop shopping.

When Walmart came up with adding grocery to their already mega stores I was honestly stunned. I couldn’t imagine such a thing. In fact, I still can’t wrap my head around why you would want to get your clothes, garden shovels, baby bottles and bicycle pumps from the same place you get your ground beef and chicken breast?

Why does everyone want one-stop shopping? Are we getting lazy? Are we spending too much time on our phones and computers? Have we lost the desire to connect with our local community by shopping at our own town’s stores? Would we rather stand in line at a mega box store and then come home and sit in our recliners and not have any social interaction with our neighbors?

“The prices are too high at the local stores, I am on a fixed budget,” you say. Yep there is that. Just about everyone is on a fixed budget. I was curious to see if that was really true in our store’s case. Was it really more expensive to shop at our local grocery store?

This past Saturday I grocery shopped at the store I work for, for my weekly groceries. Obviously it is convenient for me because I work there. I purchased a wide range of products from snacks like chips and dips to produce, dairy, meats and bakery items. The total was $96.44. I used the same receipt and priced checked on-line using the Geneseo Wegmans grocery store as my model. Yes, most general grocery items were more expensive at our store than Wegmans but wait, there’s more. Produce was almost even in price between the two stores but meat and bakery departments in our store won hands down. The result? The same products if I had purchased them at Wegmans would have cost me $100.93. That’s a little over $5 more than my little grocery store.

Yes the big stores are cheaper when it comes to grocery items because they have better buying power than small independently owned grocery stores but in general the surrounding departments like Deli, Bakery, Meat and Produce offer cheaper prices in the smaller stores. So I guess if you are only purchasing say a bag of chips your experience would be that our store was more expensive. However, buying a large amount of items from a smaller store proves that you might come out the same or even beat the prices against a larger retailer.

I am not advocating for buying everything your family needs at one store though. I think you do yourself a great disservice by doing the one-stop shopping thing. I would never buy items like detergents, toilet paper, paper products, diapers or cleaning supplies at a grocery store unless it was a really great sale and I had a coupon. For me I have found the best prices on these items have been at dollar stores, pharmacies like Walgreens with their savings cards and most often I use Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program.

I, as a consumer also frequent farmers markets, farm stands, bulk food ingredient stores run by local retailers and sometimes we will stop at mom and pop butcher shops on our weekend travels or head into the city to go to a local Italian bakery or Deli.

I know that everyone is different in how and where they shop, their schedules and lifestyles at home, their knowledge of cooking baking and growing their own food and financial situations.

I have to say I completely understand that money is almost always the central issue in your buying habits and wouldn’t it be nice if it wasn’t? I just ask that you give the little guy a second look. Traveling down the road a mile to your local hardware store instead of heading into the city to go to a major chain retailer might save you $5 but how much did the gas and time cost to get you there? And who knows, you might even run into a long time friend you haven’t seen in ages. -MM

June’s Date Night with Doug and Teaching Him how to Clean the Kitchen Floor

Date Night With Doug – June

For June’s date night with Doug we went all out Mexican. I am not talking about a quickie trip to Taco Bell or Mighty Taco here folks. We drove an hour to taste authentic Mexican cuisine in Medina, NY, but first, date night with Doug always starts off with a little shopping before dinner.

Father’s Day was coming up and a few weeks before, I had spied the perfect gift for Scott at Tractor Supply, a broadcast seed spreader for the lawn. I know that doesn’t sound very interesting to most of you but when you are a guy who is obsessed with obliterating every single dandelion in the lawn this is the perfect gift. While we were at the checkout we told the cashier where we were going for dinner and she thought that was great fun. She commented that she was still going to dinner with her dad and she was 26!

Next we went to Game Stop and Doug turned some of his old video games into store credit and purchased a couple of new games with it. He loved that!

Now on to dinner. After traveling what seemed like forever we finally arrived at our dinner destination Mariachi De Oro Mexican Grill in Medina. When we pulled in, the parking lot was packed, which is always a good sign, especially for a Tuesday night.

We waited for a bit in the doorway, not quite sure how they seated people but soon we were being led to our table for two. It was a colorful, bustling restaurant with many people sipping giant margaritas chatting animatedly at each other.

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Looking at the menu, our dinner choices were many, but after much consideration Doug decided on steak and cheese quesadillas and I decided on steak and chicken fajitas.

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Our appetizer as you might guess, was salsa and chips.

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Everything was really, really good. Nothing was overly seasoned or greasy. Everything was fresh and colorful. Now about dessert.

Doug ordered fried cheesecake. I ordered the flan. Neither one of us had ever had either of these desserts.

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Doug’s dessert was impressive to say the least. I have to give this restaurant an “A” on its presentation. He ate more than half of it before collapsing against the seat giving in to his full belly.

The flan was very different for me. It’s texture was not something that I would really order again though I have nothing to compare this restaurant’s interpretation of a flan to. The honey it was draped in was sweet and luxurious tasting but I didn’t enjoy the cold, rubberiness of the flan. I will have to give it a try somewhere else to compare.

It was another very successful date night with my son. I enjoyed every minute with my young foodie. July’s date night is at Otto Tomato’s in Victor, NY. Can’t wait!

Teaching Doug How to Properly Clean the Kitchen Floor

Doug is 13. He doesn’t really want to clean anything, let alone the kitchen floor. However, when one wants to buy himself a brand new XBox One, one has to work for the money to buy it.

When Doug wants to earn money we play the card game. The card game is getting out a deck of playing cards and every playing card has a certain point value to it.

Cards 2 through 10 are face value, Jacks are 25 points, Queens are 50 points, Kings are 75 points, and Aces are 100 points.

Now if you really want to step it up a notch you can throw in the Jokers for 500 points. That’s a lot though and this time we took the Jokers out of the deck.

So to earn a point you have to pick something up or do a specific task. Examples, fold 25 pieces of laundry or put away 10 pieces of silverware from the dishwasher. You get the idea. Not only does this game promote counting in younger children, it also gives older children a sense of the work it takes to do the chores that we as adults do every day.

I forgot to tell you what a point gets you in this game. A point gets you a penny. Yeah that sounds like a lot of work for a penny but it really adds up. Today I told him I would double the penny value to 2 pennies per point.  He picked the first card off the top of the deck (be sure to shuffle them first) and he was off and earning money. After washing and folding all of the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming his bedroom, and deadheading all of the peony bushes outside he was looking for more. I told him he could sweep and mop the kitchen floor and hallway for 100 points.

After about 10 minutes he said he was done. Yeah right. We have a huge linoleum floor in the kitchen and it is white. Who installs a white kitchen floor you say? Apparently my grandmother thought it was a good idea at the time. Me, not so much. It shows everything.

I went in to inspect. As I suspected the edges were still full of dirt particles and he hadn’t cleaned under the desk nor moved the bar stools. The mopping needed more attention too.

One thing I have learned while employing certain kids at the bakery is that no one has really ever properly taught them how to sweep and mop. Seems like a simple thing but not everyone is good at it.

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So I had Doug move things around, sweep under the desk and workbenches, and mop a couple more times around the room. He didn’t think he deserved the 100 points because he hadn’t done very well the first time but I told him after we both worked on it together that doing chores was also about learning as well as doing. We will keep working on his sweeping and mopping skills. By the end of the afternoon his double scored playing card game had earned him $18.36. Not bad!

By the way here is a picture of Douglas smiling on the last day of school with a celebratory caramel latte. His favorite. Sheesh, I don’t make the kid work all of the time ya know! -MM

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