It was the best of bargains, it was the worst of deals, it was the age of wisdom of crowds, it was the age of foolishness of the masses, it was the epoch of hope, it was the era of skepticism, it was the season of rain, it was the season of … more rain. — with apologies to Charles Dickens
While the kids work on (science | history) fair projects, I got out of the house to do maintenance on a geocache I adopted, buy double-sided tape (for the science fair board), and cruise for new tools for my birthday. My spouse doesn’t quite grok how buying tools is the forty-something male’s equivalent to nesting. The thing I really wanted was some Philips screwdrivers to replace the ones whose tips had worn off. If I found anything else, well…
Stop 0: The geocache. Its first waypoint is cleverly done: metal tag on the side of a man-hole pipe — right out in the open, but oh-so-easily overlooked, even if you’re looking for it. I was hoping it was just covered by mother nature. However, after dislodging clover around the circumference, I conceded defeat. Replacing it will require some metal stamping tools and sheet metal. More for the shopping list!
Shopping experience: no help offered or sought. Overall store organization takes some getting used to. Items on the shelves had price tags clearly displayed. Music played at uneven volumes throughout the store. It’s clear there’s a clientele who shops here regularly as people were looking for items enumerated in the ads.
Check-out experience: they requested my ZIP code, then wanted to up-sell me to the Insight Track membership so I can have VIP access to their “parking lot sale.” Cashier was otherwise easy-going.
Length of receipt: 10 3/4 inches.
Shopping experience: Help was offered, but they had to ask someone if they carried double-sided tape. (They did not.) While shopping, there were a cluster of employees discussing how dropping a torque wrench ruins its precision and whether this would be covered under warranty. (Thinking to myself: What person hasn’t dropped a tool?) Selection was fine. A budget brand was displayed next to the made-in-USA tools I sought. The package of six screwdrivers (three flat, three Philips) was $2 more than the three individual Philips ones I wanted.
Check-out experience: they requested my ZIP code, then wanted to up-sell me to the Craftsman Club. After declining, she asked if I wanted to sign up for a Sears Card for a $25 discount. No eye contact was made. On the way out, another woman stopped me to offer coupons on fencing (the yard kind, not the “fending off marketing” variety). I was regretting my purchase.
Length of receipt: 34 1/2 inches, but divided into three strips. Strip one was the receipt and a request to fill out their satisfaction survey. Strips two and three were … (wait for it…) more offers.
Shopping experience: Whoa. (For emphasis.) Help was offered and was very useful. I appreciated being led to the products rather than directed to some vague area of the store.
Check-out experience: they asked if I was an Ace Rewards member. No pressure or offer to join. Cashier made eye-contact.
Length of receipt: 6 3/4 inches.
Conclusion: I probably could have done all of my shopping at Ace, giving me more time to enjoy coffee and sneak away to Safeway’s deli for the Tuscan Chicken sandwich.