There are 3 grocery stores in the town I live in.

One is a discount chain, complete with the crappy lighting, a lack of tills open and a generally bad shopping experience. Their attitude can almost be described as “You’re lucky we’re even open”. Recently, they decided that dragging grocery carts back into the store from outside was a waste of time. So they stopped doing it.

One is a very average store in every single conceivable way. It’s not a big store, yet is isn’t a small store either. They’re not a discount chain nor a upscale market. They sell groceries and that’s it. There’s no pharmacy, floral department or general merchandise section to speak of. They decided that having three separate sizes of carts was the way to go.

Then there’s the “upscale store”. I used the quotation marks because even though this store likes to believe they’re upscale, they’re not. They’re the grocery store equivalent to lipstick on a pig. It’s more like the average store that they’d like to admit. While they have a pretty nice store and decent selection, they also have consistently higher prices. They recently decided to take the 25ยข contraption off their shopping carts. I asked the manager why.

“Well, we decided to give it a try”.

I think that trying something just for the sake of trying is pretty stupid. Whatever happened to a reason? Anyway, I digress.

In order to get your quarter back, you had to take the cart back to either the cart corral or back inside with the rest of the carts. It created an incentive for people to basically do the store’s work for them. Fantastic idea. I think you can figure out what happened once they removed that incentive.

That’s right. Carts were everywhere. The hilarious part of the whole thing was when the manager tried to convince me that the cart mess would be temporary. Somehow I doubt that.

What’s the lesson here? There’s two. First of all, figure out what segment of your market your business is in, and behave accordingly. If you’re average in every concievable way, watch out.

The other lesson? Upscale markets don’t have carts sitting all over the parking lot. Now staff members have to spend more time tracking down shopping carts and less time serving your customers. And when you’re trying to sell the same steak for 25% more than the discounter, better service is all you have. Don’t let it go to waste.

Tell everyone, yo!