The thermometer outside my bedroom window fell to its death on the patio below the other day. I am not sure if it jumped or if it was pushed. I must admit it was not the most accurate temperature measurer, except for first thing in the morning when the sun had not yet climbed high enough to encase it in a death-ray. From then until sundown, it would tell me confidently that it was fifty degrees Celsius. Even in mid-January. Maybe it jumped because it was despondent about last week’s snow, which also did in the magnolia just before it was ready to reach full bloomage. The wind storm that arrived on Thursday kindly denuded the petals that survived the cold snap. But that all happened in April. Surely May will be more well behaved. Surely I’m delusional.
I have fired my regular grocery store. Here’s where that rule that unhappy people tell ten people and happy people tell two comes in. I have always liked Loblaws. I like their private label stuff, their variety of shelf goods, their frozen appetizers, their no-name kitty litter, and getting free groceries with points. Unfortunately, here in suburbia, we are not sophisticated enough to deserve a real Loblaws. We are stuck with the Real Canadian Superstore (hideous does not begin to describe it) and Zehrs, which turned up about three years ago, a suburban-friendly ten klicks away. At first it was wonderful. Fully stocked shelves, nice produce, good bakery. Since then, it has given up on life, much like my dearly departed thermometer. I will forgive the early pandemic shortages, but these days, as evidenced by other grocery stores I visit, like Farm Boy and Longos, there is no excuse for not being able to find half my grocery list. Cooking spray? A completely empty shelf. PC Blue Menu peanut butter (just peanuts), one of the special Optimum offers? If I had wanted Skippy, I would have been in business, but apparently Mr. Zehrs was out of peanuts. Olive oil (see also, cooking spray)? Clearly a complete crop failure. Breakfast sausages? No breakfast for you! Anyhow, since grocery shopping every two weeks is the only thing I get to do outside in the real world these days, I really don’t appreciate leaving the store seething with anger.
I thought it was a very good move when Loblaw bought Shoppers Drug Mart. My capstone strategy project for my MBA was on the grocery industry. Grocery stores have extremely thin margins on most things, courtesy of finite shelf lives. The one area where they clean up big time is HABA: health and beauty aids. So what Loblaws did is buy a huge swath of margin. And for a while now, they have been cross-pollinating by selling food in the pharmacy. And this is where having a keen eye is helpful. Lately, Zehrs has been selling their large white eggs for $2.99 (pre-pandemic, it was more like $1.99, but I guess the chickens asked for pandemic pay). Last week, eggs were $3.10. In contrast, every weekend, for the longest time, Shoppers has been selling eggs for $2.29. And no name butter for two bucks cheaper than Zehrs and, wonder of wonders, PC peanut butter for a dollar off. Shoppers is using grocery as a loss-leader to get you to fill up your cart with sunscreen and hair dye. So here is my new strategy. All staples will be sourced from Shoppers, which incidentally, usually has twenty-times the points every second day. Pet food will be bulk ordered from Pet Valu. Produce, protein, and Kettlemans bagels will be foraged from the Farm Boy that’s a ten-minute walk from my house. I admit I often buy more from the latter than I can comfortably carry home, but that is, at worst, a bonus free-style addition to my exercise regime.
Meanwhile, I’m filling the cottage-bound bins with cans and jars and odds and sods. I’ve ordered some books. I’ve bought sunscreen. And hair dye. Ready to settle in for the duration. Suburbia (and hateful suburban Zehrs) you are, thankfully, dead to me. Gracias a la vida.