The other day I was at a store on South Granville, picking up something my wife put on hold. I went next door to Purdy’s to buy some Sweet Georgia Browns. It’s a pecan caramel confection that every once in a while satisfies my craving for something sweet and salty.
Purdy’s is a 100 year old Vancouver institution, with 57 stores. They are well known, and successful. They mass produce, and have positioned themselves based on price. We’re a handmade artisan chocolate company, and I don’t consider us competitors. I do poke around other chocolate stores from time to time, just to see what everyone’s doing, and to ensure I’m not doing anything remotely similar, because let’s face it, the world is over-retailed, and doesn’t need any more of the same old.
I’m looking at their bars, and I’m surprised to see a dark chocolate bar with Goji berries. It’s about the same size and weight as my Fountain of Youth, a 70% dark organic bar I make with both Goji berries and blueberries. That’s a triple whammy of anti-oxidants and flavanols, hence the name. When I developed the bar three years ago, Goji berries were hard to come by. In fact, until Oprah talked about them the previous Fall, no one really knew anything about them.
I take it up to the till, and pull out my debit card. The clerk takes the bar, rings it in, then turns it over, and peels off a sticker on the back of the wrapper. She manages to rip the sticker in such a way that half remains and half is a sticky gluey residue. I ask her why she did that, and am told it’s an internal control sticker and they’re required to do it before the customer takes the product home.
I watched her throw the remnants of the sticker in the garbage. I ask her why it’s so important to remove the sticker if she’s not actually doing anything with the information, because now the package looks tampered with. This flusters her, and she turns beet red. Her co-worker interjects, and says they remove, or attempt to remove, the sticker because people think it’s a price.
I grab a new one off the shelf, and take a look at it. There’s a hand written number 40 in the middle of a small green square sticker randomly placed on the back of the bar. I know it’s not forty cents or forty dollars, because I just paid for it. I’m told it’s the week of the calendar year that the product is good until. Week forty puts it into October. It’s May now. I’ll eat the bar within hours. There’s no risk it will be bad before the shelf life expires.
I take a closer look at the sticker, and on the left hand side, in tiny letters, are the words price, and net weight. Well, no wonder people think the handwritten forty is a price. That’s what the sticker says!
So I explain to the two clerks that I’m not trying to be the customer from hell, and sure, 99.9% of the population wouldn’t care if their sticker was removed in whole or in part, but details to me are everything, and If they don’t want people thinking a number isn’t a price when its written on a price sticker, they should use another sticker. More importantly, I’m flummoxed why they would not want me to know what the shelf life is. Coding things by week may work well in their factory, but an actual date when it’s on the retail shelf makes more sense to me.
I thank the girls for serving me, wish them a pleasant day, and leave them with the unsolicited advice that at their next staff meeting, they should review the futility of this protocol. They tell me in parting they wish they had the opportunity to get customer opinions back to management. And that’s where the logic escapes me.
Mink Chocolates Inc.,
Mink A Chocolate Cafe Ltd.
Call the store: 604.633.2451
Call my mobile: 604.376.3464
Call toll free: 1.866.283.5181
Watch: youtube.com search mink chocolates
In Person: 863 Hastings Street West, Vancouver, BC V6C 3N9
Nine out of every ten persons say they love chocolate. The tenth lies.
– Anthelme Brillat-Savarin