Ever since moving to Huntington, NY last March, my partner and I tend to shop between two local stores, Southdown Market and Wild By Nature. However, after tonight’s incident, I realize in retrospect that we end up at Southdown much more frequently than the other. Why?
For starters, let me describe tonight’s events. I picked Ana up from the train station and we headed into the village to grab a few items on our way home. No biggie, right? We approached what seemed to be the only register open, where the attendant was looking a little frazzled on her store phone, calling “Tom” for help with a coupon, while her customer waited. Ana motioned for me to put my items on the belt, but I saw another regular attendant near her register picking up the green handbaskets to put back. I hesitated, figuring this scene was going to play out with the latter attendant calling us to her register. She did not. That is, she didn’t go to her register until a nice heterosexual couple came up to the registers. Then she moved behind hers, and I started to go over — the guy saw my approach but his girlfriend was already making her move to put her items on the belt, so they basically jumped me. Whatever.
But that wasn’t the end. Because it took Tom, the manager (I assume), several back and forths from the register we were at to an aisle to get the right product to match the coupon the customer wanted to buy. We waited. The other redhaired attendant finished with her third customer while were waiting for Tom, so I said, “Ana, grab the stuff; let’s move over to the other register and get out of here!” At that, the red-haired woman left her register just as we were moving our items over. I asked her, admittedly loudly at this point, to please check us out. She did, but very rudely. How did she react? She didn’t say a word. She looked pissed. She scanned our items through without pushing them down so that I had to reach to bag them. She stared at Ana when she was done scanning without saying a word. I said, “What’s up?” She said, “Scan your card.” I said, “Please?” At that, Ana ran the card to pay, and I was livid. Tom was *still* dealing with the other register, and another manager type person watched the entire scene from her window about five feet away without saying a word.
The major difference between Southdown and Wild By Nature? The reason we seem to head to Southdown without even thinking most times? Because at Southdown, the same age group is employed as checkout help, but the Southdown employees must take some training class in manners and general human kindness! Or else Southdown just knows enough to hire employees who are friendly and cheerful and polite. Whatever the case, last night’s customer service at Wild By Nature sealed the deal. And the difference in treatment is more than obvious now.
I’m not exaggerating here. Last time we stopped by Southdown, we were there to grab a few last minute holiday items for the meal. I swear to you, all four checkout folks were not busy, so they were all gathered at our register bagging, chatting and being generally polite and friendly. They even took our cart and parked it for us while we were being checked out, all items bagged by their hands, with a smile. And any time I’m in there wandering around, the employees always ask if I need some help, unsolicited. You NEVER get that kind of unprompted help at Wild By Nature.
So you know? I’m boycotting Wild by Nature. If they can’t find a way to treat customers decently, I’ll hit Southdown from now on. It’s a no-brainer. Really. Thank you, red-haired checkout girl, for helping me to see why, up until now, I’ve only been subconsciously heading over to Southdown instead of Wild By Nature. Now I know why I’ll always point the car two minutes down the road and support Southdown from now on. Because customer treatment does matter, and Southdown let’s me know that each time I walk through their doors.
** By the way, read another review here, “Sponsored Message: Southdown Marketplace Is the Market Gem of Huntington,” and also email at the link to get a coupon for $10 off your next $50 purchase at Southdown! What’s up with that?!!
p.s. King Kullen owns Wild By Nature. Huh.
p.p.s. The vegetables and produce are always fresher at Southdown – check for yourself. At the end of the summer, I saw asparagus at Wild By Nature in a state of rot. Also, try the freshly squeezed OJ at Southdown — *very* tasty and restorative.
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.