Cider Press Hill

I am upgraded

Wednesday, 5:25 pm

By Kate




heavy rain

Over the past year, I’ve depended entirely on my mobile phone to handle all my telephone needs. I canceled the landline and couldn’t be happier about it. However, my phone plan with Sprint was geared to having a cell phone as an extra, not the primary phone. Consequently, I’ve had quite a tussle trying to stay within my minutes—a whopping 200 of them per month. Most often, I went over by 50 to 100 minutes, which, on my plan, only added $5-$10 to my bill. I didn’t really think that was too outrageous, so I lived with it.

This month, though, I used close to 900 minutes and boy is that gonna cost me when I get the next bill. So, I decided it was time to either upgrade or switch carriers. Sprint has some interesting new plans available, but I don’t really want to pay for stuff I don’t need or want. AT&T, on the other hand, had just the right fit for me: 900 minutes, 200 text messages, free mobile to mobile, free minutes for 5 different phone numbers that I call frequently, and rollover minutes. All for less than what I’ve been paying Sprint the past few months.

I jumped on it and also bought myself a really pretty new red phone with a slide out keyboard and a touch screen. I’m extremely pleased with it.

When the lad found out that I had 200 text messages per month, he promptly got me to burn through 12 of them. Young people prefer texting to talking, apparently. And since that is the case, I am delighted to have an easy to use keyboard because I think I may use it often. Today a couple more text messages from the lad. I told him he was going to have to go a little easy on the messages because Mom *is* going to use some for Twitter, too. This seemed to surprise him. “Mom! You Twitter?!” Heh, yeah. I am not sure why that’s so surprising.

Anyway. Now I am another couple of feet into the twenty-first century. I read in a book recently that, according to the author, we will be connected in ways we never imagined within 10 years. Our devices will be smaller and they will do all the things that we require 3 or 4 (or more) devices to do now. I look forward to that. I love gadgets that do lots of different things.


How to price yourself out of business

Tuesday, 4:06 pm

By Kate





Several months ago, I went grocery shopping for a friend who had just had knee replacement surgery. She preferred that I go to the grocery store that I almost never visited. I’m not sure why that is, but we get into our habits. She had a huge list and it ended up requiring two carts to drag it all to the cashier. Now, I would have expected that the total bill would have topped out at around $320. When the total tally came to $212, my jaw nearly crashed through the floor. That got me to thinking.

Not enough to change my habits immediately, but I did begin shopping at the other grocery store on occasion. What I noticed was that when I stopped by Shaw’s market (my habit store) for my mid-week “just a few things” sprint, the bill almost always came to about $28. When I bought the same sorts of items at the other store—Market Basket—my bill was usually around $17.

Over the summer, I mentioned that to the lad one day. He was doing most of the cooking and composing his own grocery lists. He was finding it a little difficult to get all he wanted at Shaw’s within the budget that I gave him to spend. We decided to go do a full week’s shopping at Market Basket and see how we did.

What we did was spend $83.39 and the lad whooped like a crazy man. He still had money left over in his food budget. “The more I save, the better the stuff I can get,” he reasoned.

We decided to conduct an experiment. We took the grocery receipt tape and wrote everything down in a notebook, with the Market Basket price next to each item. Then we went over to Shaw’s and found the same items. We wrote down the prices next to the Market Basket prices. When we came home, we tallied it all up and found that if we’d done the shopping at Shaw’s, we’d have spent $115.31.

We actually saved $31.92 by shopping at Market Basket. Same brands, same items.

Now, I can’t entirely account for the differences in prices, but I am confident that Shaw’s is quite aware that they’re being beaten to a pulp by the competition. There has been an on-going battle for the past three or four months. When Shaw’s drops the price of something for the weekly sale fliers, Market Basket drops theirs by an additional 10 cents. I can’t remember the last time I bought a can of Bumblebee albacore tuna for 75 cents.

Despite their efforts, Shaw’s has been losing badly. They’ve laid off employees. Their parking lot is quite often empty. While, just around the corner, Market Basket’s parking lot is mobbed. When I stop by Shaw’s for anything (usually my ground coffee and cut flowers which are cheaper there), I can always park near the door. When I stop at Market Basket, I often have to park near the road waaaaay far away from the front door. It’s pretty easy to tell who gets the lion’s share of the trade.

I suppose it might be worth mentioning that a couple of years ago, Shaw’s was purchased by Albertson’s. They’ve gone down hill ever since. Prices went up and the produce section was remodeled practically out of existence. The store uses an astounding amount of real estate for their produce section and cut the amount of produce in half. There’s a problem when you go to buy a head of iceberg lettuce or a package of mushrooms or a plain old leek and there are none to be found. Not.A.One.

Lots of greens in plastic bags, though.

Conversely, Market Basket remodeled their produce section, made it larger, and packed it with more. Not only that, they added special lighting that makes all their produce look even more lush than it already is. A brilliant and (probably) cheap marketing move. Nothing sells like literally beautiful produce.

And, their avocados are only 79 cents. I’m in love.

Then there are the Shaw’s Rewards Cards. Oh yes, new and improved. (Market Basket doesn’t have one.) Shaw’s decided to give us discounts on our gasoline as well as in-store discounts and coupons based on our buying habits. During the gasoline price heights last year, that was a pretty popular option. The more you spent at Shaw’s, the less you’d pay for gasoline at Irving gas. Some people might get up to 30 or 40 cents off per gallon. Which is a nice savings. But, really, I could have bought a whole tank of gasoline plus a little with what I’d save by shopping at the competition.

Yesterday, I stopped by Shaw’s to pick up a couple of items at their deli counter, which is, I think, better than Market Basket’s. While there, I thought I might pick up a couple of other things, too.

Well. I wanted a pound of roast beef and a half a pound of Provolone cheese from the deli, but Shaw’s had jacked their prices up since last week to $9.99 ($7.99 last week) per pound for the roast beef and $5.99 ($3.99 last week) for the Provolone. Holy mackerel. Someone is not only losing the price wars, but throwing in the towel, I think.

While, there I thought I’d check prices for the other items on my list: fresh spinach ($7.99/lb package), a fresh avocado (1.99 each), a pound and a half of hamburger ($2.49/lb), and a pint of store brand heavy cream ($2.19). I wrote ‘em down and went over to Market Basket to buy my stuff.

My Market Basket bill was $15.17 for the roast beef ($5.68 for 1.14 lb), Provolone cheese ($1.61 for .54 lb), spinach ($1.99), avocado ($.79), burger ($2.29/lb), and cream ($1.69). Had I bought it at Shaw’s the total would have been $25.94.

Shaw’s has been here for a long time and it used to have a devoted clientele. Now...well, not so much. It is startling and distressing to drive past and see a nearly empty parking lot while the other store’s lot is jam packed and overflowing. There are even traffic jams in Market Basket’s aisles. On several occasions, when I’ve stopped at Shaw’s to pick up a pound of coffee in the evening, I am virtually the only person in the store and the clerks practically pounce on me as if I’m an endangered species.

I can’t figure out whether this is Albertson’s fault or what. I suppose it must be—they are the owners and business model writer uppers. But it’s positively asinine with rather abstruse reasoning to price oneself out of business like this. Isn’t it? Is the same situation going on in other Shaw’s/Market Basket markets? 


Starting the engine

Sunday, 5:59 pm

By Kate




light snow, mist

I couldn’t take the bright pink and turquoise any longer. Back to the foxes we go.

I tweaked the sidebar a bit. The additions will probably slow the loading time down to a crawl, but we’ll give it a try. And I opened a twitter account so there is no excuse for me to completely disappear for weeks on end. Twittering/tweeting/whatevering is kind of entertaining.

Anyway. More tomorrow. Is there anyone left who stops by to read this thing?