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Duluth Plaza Super One … Is it just me?

I shop at the Co-op, Cub, and Super One, depending on what I need and where I am at the time. I’ve noticed that the Plaza Super One has much higher prices and lower quality produce than the other Super One stores. There are also fewer healthy product alternatives and generic alternatives at this location. And each time I go there, at least one of the items I buy does not ring up for the advertised sale price.

The cynical side of me wonders if the owners might be consciously taking advantage of the Plaza’s customer base, which appears to be of a lower income than that of their other stores — many of whom don’t have a car to use to get to another store.

Does anyone else share this perception or experience, or is it just me? Because lately I’ve developed a new, highly cynical theory on the human race: People are not essentially good, but they are not inherently evil either;  rather, they are prone to do the wrong thing (or the lazy thing), especially if they think no one is watching or that they won’t get caught.

41 Comments

Danny

about 9 years ago

Other problems at the Plaza Super One:

-Danger of getting in the middle of a fight between a pimp and two of his gals

-Embarrassment of watching people buy nothing but Mountain Dew with their EBT cards

-Deli workers not even trying to hide the fact that they are picking their nose


I've have witnessed all of these at the Plaza Super One.  It's all about the CUB with me...at least until the Super Wal*Mart is complete.

spy1

about 9 years ago

Tony: As a mostly outer aisle grocery shopper, it becomes easy to tell who is offering choices and who isn't. And, yes, this Super One is catering only to the desperate shopper, the ones who don't know better, and seems locked in some kind of time warp where we all should subserviently buy what the food companies want to give us. A store in a grim part of town will likely tell you that it has to provide the cheapest stuff and thus the most unhealthy. It'd be surprising if the prices are out of whack like you say. Or is it only on the more healthful stuff? No matter, it's too bad this store can't enlighten more than it rips people off, of money and health.

farglebargle

about 9 years ago

I go to numerous grocery stores (except for co-op, other than occasionally, since the prices are stratospheric) and the Plaza Super One is a personal favorite. Maybe someone should do an actual comparison study, but I've never noticed higher prices or lower quality. Sure, the store is smaller and less shinier than others, but so what. I always check my receipts and have gotten incorrect prices at every store.

The highest recommendation for the Plaza is that it won't have Dopey Danny in it. Which sucks for Cub.

Danny

about 9 years ago

Dopey Danny.  Cute.

Actually, I do end up in the Plaza Super One quite often, unfortunately.  While my closest grocery store is the one out here in Lakeside, for whatever reason their recent expansion has seemed to equate to less choices.  I'm still trying to figure that one out.  If I'm out and about running errands during the week I usually am in the general area of the Plaza (I am a sucker for Walgreens) so if there is a grocery item I need, that's where I end up.  The big shopping trips every weekend are reserved for CUB, however.  I'm usually not a fan of dorky catchphrases, but truly I "heart" My CUB.

tamara

about 9 years ago

For me, I enjoy Mount Royal Fine Foods. The prices are a little higher, but you get the added bonus of having baggers and a drive-up. Second choice is Cub. 

Plaza has the best bakery out of all the SuperOnes, though. :D

rnarum

about 9 years ago

Despite the name change, I still refer to it as the ghetto-jubilee. Perhaps I should drop the marketing moniker, and simply call it now-even-more-ghetto?

Kerc

about 9 years ago

re: Lakeside SuperOne expansion/contraction.
The past 4 times I've done my weekly shop there I've managed to get a dairy product that has already expired (I challenge you to shop with 2 ornery children and read the expiration dates on every product).

Peanut

about 9 years ago

The East End Super One in Superior serves a similar customer base as the plaza Super1 and it always has higher prices and less appealing produce than the other two Super One stores in Superior.

Bad Cat!

about 9 years ago

I tend to think that most people are not bad/evil, just lazy. Managing different prices at different stores would actually require more work to keep track of it all (meaning that most managers won't go through the effort of trying to screw someone over for $.10).

Plaza is much smaller than the other stores - maybe they had to cut out some of the less-purchased items in order to fit?
Not that I'm trying to be an optimist, I just believe in the laziness of the American Way.

Northern Lady

about 9 years ago

Having had significant experience with Super One's corporate, I can offer the following:

1. I would not for a second doubt that Super One spends extra time and money organizing a way to scam low income people (and so to recoup that extra time and money). 

2. Just because SuperOne is local does not mean it should get all of our business. Part of buying local should be to encourage GOOD local business expansion. We should be smart buyers, not lazy buyers. 

3. Now, to get off my high horse - I hate that I go to Mt. Royal, but it honestly is the most pleasant for me. Wide aisles, good produce, and lots to choose from. Plus, I don't KNOW that by buying there I'm encouraging evil (local) corporate greed.

bp

about 9 years ago

I have fond memories of working at this Super One for six months. If you think it's bad shopping there, working there is a whole new level of awful. 

The lack of organic/healthy alternatives is simply because it's a small store, so they need to pack as many of the cheap, profitable items as possible into it. This was frustrating for me too as a customer who prefers these products. I don't know much about the produce, but from speaking with friends Super One's everywhere seem to have pretty mediocre produce. I wouldn't be surprised if the produce was worse here, as 60% of the customer base is on EBT/Food Stamps and wouldn't even consider buying something healthy for their mob of 3-6 children (soda is cheaper anyway). 

The sale price not ringing up is due to the understaffed/underskilled scanning team, who would always manage to screw up 5-10 important sale items a week. If this happens to you please don't get frustrated at the cashiers, it is 100% not their fault. It got to the point where it happened so frequently I wouldn't even go check if the customer was right on the sale price, I would take their word on it every time. This action feeds pretty nicely into your theory that people will do the lazy thing if they think they won't get caught.

heysme

about 9 years ago

This grocery store in the plaza location has been my store to shop for the last 20+ years. I have witnessed the decline from National to IGA to Jubilee to Super One. Losing familiar clerks such as Doreen to name one is far more disheartening than the conditions of the store and food. 

I agree with almost all of the negative things that are posted and have a few of my own which I will refrain from posting.

Be careful when you say the store is taking advantage of it's customer base of the lower income. All levels of economic status are being taken advantage of when you consider the conditions of the store, the "extra .10," and options of products. How about the taking advantage of employees, whom have lost good wages and benefits/pension plans and sometimes their jobs, each time the location reinvented itself?

I feel the store has every right to run itself into the ground or whatever direction it wants. I fought the idea to shop elsewhere a few months ago but as a responsible consumer, I have changed my grocery habits based on the way they choose to operate. I would hope you would do the same.

Garbat

about 9 years ago

The Co-op takes EBT, without a doubt has the finest produce of any grocery store in the Ports, and customer service out the ears (of corn). With 40 years and no name change, why shop elsewhere? Feel good eating your food next time.

Hmmmm

about 9 years ago

In Super One's defense, I believe they have made improvements to the Spirit Valley location's produce selection and store overall. When I began shopping there 7 years ago, I was disheartened by the quality and the amount of errors in sale prices. It is much better now (not as good as Cub or Mt. Royal's produce selections, but saves me an extra trip to get decent produce somewhere else) The organics are the basics, but are also growing in choices and get me through until I do my bi-weekly Whole Foods run. The staff are great and I haven't had a mess-up on a sale price in years. My bill is always cheaper there then when I shop at Cub and get the same products.

The Friendly Old Knifey

about 9 years ago

The peppers seem to be in better shape at the Plaza Super One than at Cub. I can never find a good (green or red) pepper at Cub.

Shane

about 9 years ago

I have noticed that some things are cheaper at the Plaza Super One. Usually meat dept. items such as buffalo chicken nuggets are $1 cheaper at the plaza than the Lester Park Super One.

Erik the Red

about 9 years ago

Let's each pick an item from our next grocery trip, and when we get a list together, I'll go down to plaza and cross check the whole thing, and I'll report the results back here.

jill

about 9 years ago

Be sure to check expiration dates at the Plaza, when I shop there, I find oodles of perishables that are expired.  I wonder if they cull at all. One time a cashier actually tried to sell something expired to me at half price on the advice of the manager! WTF? Not that I'm afraid of expired goods, honestly, but this is illegal, and a really poor practice to boot.

LJ

about 9 years ago

I don't think this thread should necessarily be a discussion (criticism) of the low income families who shop at the Plaza, or their children, or the effects of the social and economic conditions that we all play a role in that cause some folks to make bad choices in things like grocery shopping.  I am intrigued, however, by the idea that Super One might consciously make the decision to keep that store "ghetto" as someone put it.  I know I NEVER have a good experience there for one reason or another.  I stick to Mt. Royal, Cub, and the Co-op. I think the product and service is better.  And now that the Lakeside Super One is complete, I still avoid it even though it is closer. There's just something I don't like about these stores.

The Miners (and their company) seem like a family that likes the image of giving back to the community and donating lots of $$ to charities to help poor people, so I would be interested to hear what they had to say about this question.

Sjixxxy

about 9 years ago

Yesterday I had an item at the Plaza Super One which was listed at $3.29 ring up for $2.50. Scamming I can live with!

Danny G

about 9 years ago

Why is it that poor people "make bad choices" but the big, evil grocery store is trying to stick it to people?

Lucie

about 9 years ago

I've always referred to that Super One as "Meth One" given its proximity to the rehab place or "Only One" when we lived on Park Point and Cub was so far. It's a sad, sad supermarket.

Andrew O

about 9 years ago

I love the Plaza Super One!  They have lower prices than when it was a Jubilee, the staff is always helpful, and it is nice to have so close to where I live.  Granted they do get some taxi business, but I cannot afford Co-Op or Mount Royal prices.  I like blue collar establishments and call the people who only shop the Co-Op "green" collars.  This town already bends over backward for the green collars, so lay off the Plaza SuperOne. Well, they do mess up sale prices always.  

Also, Johnson's Bakery is the best in town for sandwiches and other baked goods.

B-man

about 9 years ago

This post is referring to the "ghetto tax"

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/19/us/19poor.html

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ghetto%20tax

This is a well documented business practice, Super One is just trying to gain profits.  This is a free market economy isn't it?  

Plaza will often not accept the "regular" Super One coupons that are offered in the Sunday paper. For example; 10 pizzas for $10 is ok at the Miller Hill store or in Spirit Valley, but the Plaza will only give you 7 pizzas for $10.  There is nothing illegal about this practice, but if you find it immoral write a letter or stop shopping there.  The biggest problem is that folks who are geographically near that store need to utilize it out of convenience.  They may not have the ability or time to go miles away for food.

As far as the food stamps (EBT) and Mountain Dew thing?  My idea is to grade all food on an A-F scale according to nutritional value, and anything that does not get a C or better will not be eligible for purchase with the EBT.  Yes help is needed but so is guidance, and education.

Danny

about 9 years ago

I'm no expert on EBT (or food stamps or whatever is used these days) but wasn't there a system at one point where only certain necessities could be purchased?  Whatever happened there?  How is it that pretty much anything can be bought with those "pretend" credit cards?

girlfromnorthcountry

about 9 years ago

Of the fascinating sites I've witnessed at the Plaza Super One:

- a man standing outside the store in a blizzard, with his cell phone plugged into the wall...

- a couple trying to buy red bull with food stamps, then going back for other types of energy drink until they figured it out...

- a woman shopping with a baby lemur on her shoulder (this was over the 4th when the carnival and that lemur exhibit was in town.  The woman at the deli counter didn't even blink.)

Tammi

about 9 years ago

Requiring people on food stamps to follow a bunch of guidelines determined by privileged people (that, of course, the privileged aren't required to follow) is utterly ridiculous.

First and foremost, people need to have enough to eat.  Anyone who has ever depended on food stamps can tell you, making the allotment last for the month sucks.  A lot.  Under the very best circumstances (plenty of time to prepare meals from scratch, a well-stocked pantry, sufficient cooking utensils and cookware, working stove, fridge, and freezer, knowledge and cooking skills, etc.), feeding a family with food stamps is stressful and difficult. 

When I was a supermarket cashier, I'll admit that it pained me to see some of the types of food purchased with food stamps.  But here's the thing:  if you're really agitated about the contents of other people's grocery carts, don't look at them.  If you're required to look (like, if you're a supermarket cashier or a bagger), don't judge.  And how about we actually, like, address issues of food insecurity in our country instead of making life harder for poor people than it already is?

Danny

about 9 years ago

I pretty much reject that 100%...based on the fact that you used the term "privileged."  I am not on food stamps, EBT, or whatever and there is no way I could be considered "privileged."

Tom Maloney

about 9 years ago

Right on, B-man!

I think you're wrong, Bad Cat.  Stores will selectively charge more at different locations and I don't think we can consider them 'evil' for such action.  However; as B-man's links imply, there are definitely murky waters of racism and classism surrounding these issues.  I just don't think we can pin the blame soley on grocery chains.

No More Supermarkets?: Major Grocers Flee Detroit - Part II

 "Typically, some of the urban retailers will charge more for their product because they have to have security. The taxes are higher. They have more shrink than suburban stores. And to offset all that, to do business in an urban area, they'll charge higher prices."

Starfire

about 9 years ago

I call it Super Jubes.

Tammi

about 9 years ago

Everyone is privileged in some way, Danny.  Even you.

Roger

about 9 years ago

This is a great thread, and I've really enjoyed a number of your comments. Tom's NPR quote raises an ethical and practical concern, but I don't want to stray too far from the issue.

B-Man, thanks for the "ghetto tax" links. I don't know that anyone has made the claim that anything being done here is illegal, but as a consumer I nonetheless think it's my concern if a local business is engaging in exploitative behavior. Both Tom and B-Man's posts have me itching to talk about distributive justice...

Tony D, you mentioned that there are fewer "generic alternatives" at this location. Are you referring to over the counter medication or something else?

Danny

about 9 years ago

Tammi...if EVERYONE is privileged in some way then that would include the people on the food stamps.  "Everyone" is a pretty definitive word.

Tammi

about 9 years ago

@Danny

There are many, many different kinds of privilege.  EVERYONE is privileged in some way, but not in all circumstances.  You may think I'm talking strictly about economic privilege--I am not.  

You can be privileged in regards to the language you speak, the neighborhood you live in, the color of your skin, your gender, the social situations you can navigate--however, people on food stamps do not have economic privilege.  They also do not have the privilege to do their shopping without someone sneering self-righteously at the contents of their shopping basket.

People who can afford to buy their own food, or who can choose among a variety of well-stocked grocery stores are privileged to do so.  Their circumstances are not universal.  You can reject this assertion if you want, but it's reality.

Danny

about 9 years ago

Ok...I've lost track now.  So, in this circumstance am I or am I not in one of the categories of "privilege" that you are talking about here?

Also...does this not seem a little bit ridiculous to you?

girlfromnorthcountry

about 9 years ago

I don't consider myself privileged for having the ability to purchase food with money I made from working at my job; I consider it my right as a working member of my community and economy.  And I don't consider being made to wait for the people in front of me to run back to the drink aisle repeatedly because their choices are being rejected, "self-righteous sneering at the contents of other people's carts." I call that a typical day at the ghetto Super One.

Forrest

about 9 years ago

The only thing that bothers me about the Plaza Super One is the parking lot. What a wretched mess. My car cries every time I enter.

Also, @Tammy, I mean this in the most calm, non-sarcastic way possible. The only reason I get a frustrated and angry feeling when people buy obviously unhealthy and unnecessary food using any sort of government assistance is because in some very small way, I'm also paying for that crap.

edgeways

about 9 years ago

For what it's worth some food programs such as WIC I believe are a lot more restrictive about food choices. I think EBT is essentially a vehicle for distributing different kinds of financial assistance, so it is not exclusively for food assistance, therefore it is difficult to code in exemptions for its use, especially when you can use the card at ATMs to withdraw cash anyway. 

I know it's all cool and whatnot for some to point to anecdotal evidence to bolster grr grr grr people on food stamps are wasting resources, welfare queens, etc. But, frankly the scale of waste at this level is pretty trivial compared to so many other things and it does tremendous amounts of good. 

You seem pretty intent on provoking people Danny, I'm not sure if you are doing so out of some internal desire to "shake people up," or just want the attention, or basically like pissing people off, or as a performance piece.

Tammi

about 9 years ago

@Danny 

Yes.  You are.

And, no, I don't think it's ridiculous.  In fact, I think it's a really important discussion to have.  Of course, it's not as fun as spewing amusing anecdotes about lower class people.

@girlfromnorthcountry

See above:  EVERYONE is privileged in some way.  You are a working member of the community.  You have a job.  Congratulations.  If your job is ever eliminated and you end up on food stamps, you may look at class issues a little differently.

@Forrest

There is no unnecessary food.  All food has nutritional value to someone.  You want people to eat better? Give them enough money, a place for cooking and storage, and access to a decent variety of food. Then you can worry about the finer points of nutrition.

Tony D.

about 9 years ago

Well, now that the thread has devolved into a debate about WIC and EBT and Danny's delicate ego, I wish I had never started this. Once again, thanks Danny, for always bringing the discussion down to your level.

Paul or Barrett, I sure wouldn't mind if you shut down the comments.

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