10 Things Southerners Know Best About Grocery Store Etiquette
Trips to the grocery store can be downright exhausting. You can be shoved to the side for a super bargain at the dairy aisle, growled at by customers for clipping coupons at the cash register, or getting stuck in a grocery aisle while someone catches up with their long lost third cousin twice removed. Sometimes a trip to Harris Teeter or Publix feels like one shopping cart bump away from an open war zone. That’s why it’s important to remember that when it comes to maintaining a pleasant shopping environment, we’re all in it together.
As a refresher course for how to keep the grocery store friendly and—dare we say it?—fun, here are ten rules for Southern grocery store etiquette:
We're All in This Together, Y'all
Always Return Your Shopping Cart
It’s frustrating to start your trip to the grocery store by searching for a cart. That’s why it’s important to remember what you learned in kindergarten and put things back when you’re done with them. Even if it’s raining or the kids are fussing, take a minute to return your cart and don’t leave them strewn around the parking lot waiting to dent someone’s car.
Don't Block the Aisles
Grocery stores are designed for people to keep moving in them. Grab what you need from the shelves and keep going. Sure, everyone can get transfixed by the immense variety of cereal and yogurt options, but once you’ve made your choice, make room for the next customer. It can be hard to pick up a few groceries at the Publix without running into an old neighbor or high school friend, but as you say hello, try not to block access to the pickles and chips.
Try To Make Sure Your Children Are Behaving, But Be Patient With Others
Children are not exactly known for behaving properly in grocery stores, but it’s up to parents to do their best to make sure their children are behaving, or at least aren’t staging a peach war in the produce section. It’s up to non-parents to be patient and understanding if a parent has her hands full and just wants to get her shopping done and her brood back in the minivan.
Put Products Back Where They Belong
We’ve all picked up a can of beans or a bottle of dish soap only to find a cheaper version elsewhere in the store. Don’t just stick the beans in with the potato chips, though. Either take the time to return the item to where it belongs or at the very least hand it to the clerk at check out so it can be returned to its proper location.
Be Polite to the Clerks
Be patient. Be kind. Be grateful. Sure, it can be frustrating to have to explain to a new clerk that the leafy greens she’s staring at in bewilderment are collards or if they have to call for a manager to ring up your coupons, but that’s no reason to forget your manners. Say hello, say thank you, and be on your way.
Don’t Enter the Express Lane with More Than the Number of Items Listed
When the sign says “10 items or less” don’t try to sneak in with 15. Your fellow customers know, the clerk knows, and you know that you’re being a sneak and it’s just going to aggravate everyone around you. If you want to get out of the store quickly, studies show that the secret is to follow the person with the most items in their basket.
Please Don’t Use Your Cell Phone at Checkout
This rule is not just for grocery stores, of course. It’s just good manners to put the phone away before greeting the clerk and getting through the check-out process quickly.
Just One Sample Per Person Please
If a grocery store is handing out samples of their store-made pimento mac and cheese, the bakery’s Mississippi Mud pie, or the locally grown peaches feel free to take one, but only one. The samples are not there to tide you over until supper time, but to convince you to buy their products and only one sample will suffice for that purpose. Of course, if you’re pregnant, you’re eating for two.
Don't Leave Trash in Your Cart
If you are a coupon clipper or hit the sample stand, don’t leave your trash in the shopping cart when you return it to the cart corral. Instead take a minute to clean up after yourself, just like you would anywhere else.
At the end of every trip to the grocery store comes the time to pay. Don’t let this surprise you. Have your coupons clipped and in order and your credit card or checkbook ready to go and you won’t be fumbling in your bag hunting for the latest Piggly Wiggly coupon and holding up the line.