Now I know I’ve written about the joys of my local Chinese supermarket, Tone Tai, but unfortunately, I also have to shop at a “regular” Canadian supermarket in order to purchase everything I need for our household and some of our meals.
We have a fancy market down the road called Loblaws. (I know… all you Arrested Development fans will like that one.) But it’s kind of like Pavilions back in So Cal: it has everything, but for a price.
Closer to my home is a discount market called No Frills. They have a great gimmick where if you bring in a circular with a price that is lower than theirs they will match it! No Frills is actually owned by the same company that owns Loblaws (another chuckle for my fellow Arrested Development nerds).
But here are a few of differences between Canadian markets in general and markets in So Cal:
1. No Bagboys (or baggirls)
That’s right. No one will bag your groceries for you in Canada. Not even in the fancy markets. Everyone bags their own stuff, with possibly some help from the checker if you’re being really slow and he or she needs to move you along. The reason why there aren’t any bagpeople in Toronto is…
2. You have to bring your own shopping bags.
The law that San Francisco has in place and all of California toyed with, but didn’t pass, is in full swing up here in Toronto. If you want a plastic shopping bag – at any store, not just supermarkets – you have to pay 5 cents for each bag. A lot of people just bring their own bags. But if you opt to purchase bags, you need to tell the checker how many you want, then pay for them. So, folks become pretty adept at figuring out how much stuff can fit into one plastic bag. The law is supposed to cut down on plastic bag usage and on the whole, it does. But I am often surprised at the number of people I see still purchasing bags at check out.
3. They lock up their shopping carts
A friend of mine recently mentioned how she remembers Canadians being so considerate that they tend to bring back their shopping carts to the store instead of leaving them strewn about in the parking lot. I had the joy of telling her why that is now the case.
At both Tone Tai and No Frills, all the shopping carts are locked to each other like this. You have to put a coin in the slot (25 cents at No Frills, a dollar coin at Tone Tai) in order to release the cart from its shackles. The coin stays in the little slot, but out of your reach until you return the cart to the holding pen and lock it up to the cart in front of it. That action releases your coin and you get your money back.
On the whole, it really does keep people from leaving their carts aboot (yeah, they really do talk like that up here). And it does curb a bit the stealing of carts altogether. However, I still see the occasional cart several blocks from its home.
Whenever I used to see a stray cart in So Cal, I’d just get annoyed that someone was so inconsiderate to “borrow” this cart and leave it unattended. But, now, when I see a stray cart, I think…. hmmm…. do I have the time to return it and get a dollar?