I Must Stop Using Chain Stores So Much

I’m writing it here, because I keep forgetting that for some items, chain stores really suck.

Take today for example. I went to Sainsbury’s. Which is right next to B&Q.

B&Q, Filton

I want some bean canes for the runner beans I’m growing.
I’ve already got some at home, and want some the same length, as I’m half way through building a kind-of teepee shape. B&Q have two sizes – either 4ft or 6ft. Having forgotten to measure the ones at home, after considerable deliberation, I decide they can’t possibly be 6ft, so buy the 4ft ones. 20 of them, are £3.98. They’re quite thin/spindly really.

I don’t really need 20 at the moment. I guess I’ll use them somewhere.
(If you were wondering, the other option would have been 10 x 6ft ones, for £3.48.)

Sainsbury’s, Filton

I don’t mind shopping in Sainsbury’s usually, but today they had a shit-poor selection of fruit and vegetables.

I wasn’t after purple carrots or anything unusual – I wanted standard carrots, a few loose potatoes, and a couple of apples.
The carrots were all bruised and beaten.
The only loose potatoes they had in the whole shop were Jersey Royals, at £3 per kilo. I hate the way some supermarkets force you to buy bagged produce by deliberately having shit quality loose stuff, or a very poor selection. Yeah I know your game, Sainsbury’s. Tesco do it too. I don’t want a whole bag. Half of whatever I’m buying will go off before I get a chance to eat it.

So I voted with my feet (sorta) and decided not to buy any fruit or vegetables in Sainsbury’s.

Lloyd’s Greengrocer, Henleaze

All this means that after I’ve brought my frozen stuff home, I had to go out again to a nearby greengrocer. Henleaze has a greengrocer, and is relatively near me, so I went there. The carrots in Sainsburys were 70p per kilo. In Henleaze, 86p a kilo. Maybe I’ve dropped a massive clanger here.

Potatoes in Henleaze were admittedly not Jersey Royals, but they were only £1.28/kilo. In fact, my carrots/potatoes/apples shop came to only £1.66 in total. Bargain. I hardly had to look at what I was buying, as the quality throughout was so much higher, despite being 10 minutes from closing.

Henleaze Garden Centre

I’ve congratulated Henleaze Garden Centre before on opening longer hours. Throughout all those bank holidays around the Royal Wedding, they were open every day, mostly normal hours.

This is important, because I think a lot of people shop in supermarkets for everything, because if they work 9-5 Mon-Fri, they can’t get to 90% of independent high street shops, as they’re also open the same hours.

Before I went to the greengrocers, I discovered that my bean canes from earlier were the wrong length. I bought 4ft, and the ones I already had at home were 5ft. B&Q didn’t have any 5ft ones, so I can’t go back there.

As I was practically walking past Henleaze Garden Centre, I thought I might as well have a look.

10 x 5ft canes, at least twice the thickness of the B&Q’s were £2.25. They had a variety of different sizes, styles, colours, and ones made from bamboo (my preference), plastic, or metal. Cheaper, and higher quality.

So, now I’ve got to back to B&Q.

I’ll be returning the wrong-length ones to B&Q. While I’m there, I should be reinforcing a mental note to self, that I hate shopping in B&Q. It’s enormous, yet really cluttered. It takes me forever to find anything, and there is unrelated tat everywhere, like fake plastic plants and topical garden gnomes, clogging up the aisles.

Several times, I thought I’d wandered past a person, only to take a second look, and discover it was a life-size cardboard cut-out of Alan Titchmarsh in a different pose.

I think maybe B&Q have started employing those cut-outs instead of staff, as when I got to the tills, there was only one with a human open (a trend that seems to be growing in B&Q stores). So I tried the self-service tills. Sometimes these are OK, but for bulky or unusually shaped items, it seems they don’t work very well. It got itself stuck in an endless loop of asking me to remove/replace the item in the bagging area (have you ever tried putting some 4ft pieces of bamboo in a carrier bag?), until a member of staff appeared. The staff man was friendly enough, but I’d rather he’d been running an actual till.
Either that, or they need a substantially bigger bagging area. Chances of someone buying an odd-shaped, or large item in a hardware store is pretty likely I’d have thought. I’d have loved to have seen someone get an 8ft ladder in the tiny bagging area.

I’ve been there three times in the last month, including today. Twice (different branches) looking for a type of compost they used to sell, that seems to have been discontinued. They never seem to have quite what I want, and some of the plants are a bit expensive/poor quality, in comparison to local garden centres.

That’ll learn me to shop independent (sometimes), I guess.

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