Taking A Stand At Grocery Store Checkout

HAVING YOUR SAY

April 24, 2009|By Christi Dant

With so many major issues confronting our country, it may seem silly to care about such a small issue - but as a farm girl, I understand the potential a seed has. My concern is simple, it's local, and it affects people in their neighborhoods: It is the disappearance of checkout clerks in grocery stores and box stores.

I have refused to use "self-checkout" at stores since it first appeared. First, I do not wish to train to be a cashier (clearly it's a job without much of a future). Second, I am not offered a discount to do so. And most important, by using self-checkout, I effectively would cut the hours of work available to people in my community.

Retailers tell us that self-checkout holds down their costs and allows them to keep prices lower. My guess is that a vast amount of those savings boost profits that go to corporate coffers far from Maryland.

I recently stopped at a local grocery store at 8:15 p.m. and not a single staffed checkout register was open. There was one young woman "overseeing" all the self-checkouts. I was irritated and took it out on her. She obliged us by opening a register. When I apologized for lashing out at her, saying I knew she wasn't responsible for situation, she acknowledged she does get yelled at a lot for it and provided me a Customer Feedback Mailer (no manager was available). A few other people in the quickly forming line also asked for the forms.

That's a nice start - a seed. I am hoping there are more folks like me who are tired of seeing jobs cut and profits sent out of our communities.

Here's an idea. At the bottom of most receipts is listed "total number of items" sold. I can't offer an educated guess as to how many items a grocery store sells per day, but if they sell even 100,000 items, adding a penny per item would net them $1,000. They could afford a cashier or two with that.

I'd much prefer to be given the choice to pay an additional penny per item if it would help keep jobs here. Or retailers could just do the right thing by our communities and their employees and be good neighbors and good corporate citizens.

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