We can't have nice things

11/03/2011 12:48:00 PM
Pamela Riemenschneider

“We can’t have nice things because you don’t take care of them.”

Did you ever hear that from your parents?  As a relatively new parent (Ike’s 3 now) I find myself thinking that sometimes and I think I’ve even said it while cleaning up some kind of ruined/broken thing that I previously valued.

This brings me to something I saw this weekend. I stopped by the Walmart near my house in North Austin. I was picking up some last minute Halloween supplies and, of course, I had to drop in the produce department to just to see how things look.

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And there I saw something I never thought I’d see at Walmart: A bin of SweeTango apples.

Most people who know me know I’m a bit of an apple snob and I happen to LOVE SweeTangos, which are like Honeycrisp kicked up a notch.

They’re also pricey, on sale for a $2.47 a pound in this display. I usually pay $2.99 a pound.  

And they’re delicate.

First, I thought, “Score! I don’t have to trek down to Central Market to get my fix.” Then I looked at the apples in the bin.

Uh. No.

Almost every piece of fruit was bruised, pitted, split and one even had a bite taken out of it.

Gross.

I left the display untouched and went home. I griped about it on Facebook and it got me thinking that maybe it was the weekend wipeout. Maybe the display had a busy Saturday and Sunday. I’ve seen even Whole Foods look rough after a busy day.

So, I went back on Tuesday afternoon for another look.

They looked just as bad as my previous visit.

Is this a rip on SweeTango apples? Absolutely not.

I’m not sure SweeTangos are a good fit for Walmart shoppers – or Walmart’s “dump and go” merchandising strategy.

What were they thinking having a display of delicate, expensive fruit most people haven’t tried sandwiched between a bin of gala and a bin of red delicious – both of which looked great and were on sale for $1.27 a pound? Their shrink on this is going be outrageous.

Couple that with the f.o.b. price of SweeTangos running roughly double gala and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Everyday Jane Walmart shopper probably doesn’t have a strong opinion on apple varieties and probably doesn’t care what kind of apples her kids eat.

She’s looking for a good deal and she’s going to walk right by this bin and think “Those must not be very good apples.”

A clerk’s going to come through this department and start cleaning up the display of fancy, expensive—neglected—apples and think “Wow, these didn’t sell at all.”


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Eric Brown    
new York  |  November, 19, 2011 at 10:38 AM

You are spot on! I have no idea why the coop has sold this to Walmart...it is counter to the marketing model which it began with.

Cervando Torres    
Corona, CA  |  November, 26, 2011 at 05:53 PM

Great article. I have seen the same with the honeycrisp apples at my local Vons store. I think in some cases is not the expensive fruit or the customer that don't know about the apple itself; but the lack of labor that this particular store is setting aside for this department. I shop occasionally at this store mainly in the evening hours and is always the same scenario; the produce clerk is at the checkstand! if any company wants to sell more produce, they have to give adequate help in the produce department.

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