Editor's Insight

June 5, 2008
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Adventures in Shopping


For me, grocery shopping typically is a routine task. Occasionally, however, I’ll run into a situation that merits a mention in this space.

That was the case on one recent Saturday, when my son Joey and I were wandering the aisles of our local SuperTarget and came across a huge display of Archer Farms foods. Many of the products represented new launches, and all of them were beautifully packaged (and temporarily discounted).

“I love Archer Farms!” Joey exclaimed. “It’s such a cool company. They don’t just make, like, peanut butter oatmeal; they make, like, chocolate delight peanut butter oatmeal.”

Once I got past his reference to peanut butter oatmeal - a concept I sincerely hope exists only in nine-year-old Joey’s imagination - I realized the true intent of his words: One, Archer Farms stands for awesome, one-of-a-kind items. And two, Archer Farms is a major food manufacturer that operates along the same lines as, say, General Mills.

When I explained to Joey that Archer Farms is one of Target’s own brands - and that scores of manufacturers supply the impressive product lineup - he was amazed. But he wasn’t surprised when I told him we could buy Archer Farms products only at Target - he had figured that one out a long time ago.

Our mother-son discussion got me to thinking that Joey probably is not alone - countless other shoppers likely envision Archer Farms as a trend-setting stand-alone company that, for one reason or another, serves only Target. In my mind, these shoppers are further evidence of the enormous progress private label’s made since its early days.

In just a few short years, Archer Farms has become a destination brand - a brand that entices folks to come back for more. And that’s a private label success story worth sharing. …

… Another of my recent shopping outings also warrants discussion here - but not for any remarkable achievements in private label.

Like many other “green-minded” shoppers, I’ve said goodbye to disposable plastic bags, opting instead for reusable canvas. But when I hit my local supermarket checkout with a duo of canvas bags and handed them directly to the young bagger, I was astounded by his response. He wrapped up my facial tissue purchase in a plastic bag, tossed the plastic-wrapped product into the (empty) canvas bag, and deposited the whole shebang into my cart.

When I pointed out that the canvas bag still had room for at least half of my dozen or so items - and that the tissue box didn’t warrant its own protective plastic covering - he muttered something about being distracted and removed the canvas bag from the cart. Satisfied the bagger would now honor my green intentions, I turned my attention to the cashier and paid for my order. But once I left the store and loaded my groceries into the car, I found I actually had gained four plastic bags - two for each of my canvas bags (I call it the “Little Caesar’s Pizza-Pizza syndrome”). All in all, the tissue, a pair of frozen entrees, a gallon of milk and a bottle of juice scored individual plastic bags.

Seems to me this store - part of a major national supermarket chain and, ironically, the source of my canvas bags - needs to “green up” its employee training program just a bit!

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