Jewel Is No Gem (Practices)

In the Chicago area, Jewel (aka, Jewel-Osco) is a very prominent grocery store chain. Founded in 1899 as a coffee home-delivery service, the company grew throughout the Depression to become a supermarket giant. Today, the company is owned by SuperValu and employs 45,000 associates. In any given month, 4 out of 5 households in the Chicago area visit a Jewel-Osco at least once. Jewel owns a full 45% of the grocery market in Illinois.

Out of curiosity, I used the handy-dandy spend analyzer tool from Discover Card to find out how much I had purchased from Jewel during the last 12 months. Apparently, I shop there a lot. I was shocked. I still am shocked. I spent over $4200 in the last year. This amount is going to drop greatly during the next year…and not because I plan to consume or spend less. I am finding a different store for my routine trips to stock up on groceries.

And I’ll tell you why: Jewel has piss-poor practices, processes, and service.

Over the last several months, Jewel “remodeled” and “updated” many stores. These modifications were costly, but that’s okay since it’s the consumers–who are already struggling because of the tough national economy–who pay for those changes. They closed aisles, moved some things around, added a few new products, and plastered a new coat of paint on the walls. In the end, the only real change I noticed was that the grocery items that used to be located near the cash registers had been moved to the back of the store, and those items from the back of the store were moved to near the registers. Hmmmm. Now I need to walk up and down EVERY ^&%$#@* aisle to find what I need. It’s odd. It’s almost as if some consultant told Jewel:

  • the longer customers stay in the store, the more money they spend; and
  • one sure way to keep customers in the store longer is to switch everything around so THEY CAN’T FIND ANYTHING!

This made me unhappy, and I mentioned it to the people who looked like management during the “grand re-opening.” Management was easy to spot. They walked around asking, “Can I help you find something?” Yeah, how about @*&%^# everything? How about the peanut butter that used to be right there (as I point to the other side of the long aisle)? How about putting it %&#%$@ back?

I know what you’re thinking: I’m a little too passionate about my peanut butter. This is not about peanut butter but about poor business practices. During a recession, when the most important thing to customers is finding an affordable way to feed the family, Jewel wasted money on faux enhancements. These “improvements” served to enhance their profits and to separate people from more of their money.

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