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Diatribe: Motor Oil, Underwear And Tomatoes … Prepare To Buy Clothes At Kroger.

09/22/2012

Once upon a time, everyone in a town had to plan a trip to the General Store to pick up items that they couldn’t grow/build/bake/sew themselves on their own land.  Shopping trips were major expeditions that required time to travel as well as funds to make purchases.  For some, these trips were annual adventures.  For those living in town, they could shop more often.

I remember a time when businesses were focused.  A time before when consumers were able to purchase items from qualified salespeople and businessmen that took pride in their trade.  Those who wanted to buy meat could do so in a butcher shop and from a butcher who was skilled and knowledgeable about the products that he sold.  Baked goods were purchased at Bakeries.  Milk came from Dairies.  Men shopped for clothes and furnishings at Haberdashers and women sought out Milliners to purchase hats.  Pets were purchased at Pet Stores.  Medicines were purchased at Drug Stores.  Shoppers traveled to produce stands for fresh vegetables and chicken farms for fresh eggs.

Eventually, my small town got its first “convenience store” when I was quite young.  We rarely shopped there, except for emergency gallons of milk, because we found their inventory to be overpriced.  As time passed, the convenience stores became 24-hour businesses.  When service stations stopped offering service and only gasoline, they merged with the convenience stores.  Soon, corner markets were popping up across the nation.

And then came malls.

Meanwhile, the “big box” retail stores took hold and replaced the Mom & Pop businesses that simply couldn’t compete with the deeply discounted prices offered by their new competitors.  It was only a matter of time before “SuperCenters” became retail destinations for consumers that value convenience and discounted prices.  These, sometimes giant, warehouse stores eventually began selling groceries, too.

People who love to shop at superstores might be thrilled to learn that Kroger, the country’s largest grocer, is test marketing the addition of clothing to its lineup of essentials.  The new apparel section is said to include nationally branded shoes, jewelry, outerwear and undergarments from Levi, Carhartt, Carter, Skechers, Hanes and Maidenform, among others.

I’m sure this is the right thing for Kroger to do, from a business perspective, but I’m not a fan.  What’s fair is fair, I suppose, since department stores have been selling groceries for years.  Frankly, I wish we had more opportunities to shop in smaller, focused, storefronts like in years gone by.  I enjoy going to a hardware store to buy hardware and a bookstore to buy books.  To me, there’s something innately wrong about paying for motor oil, underwear and tomatoes at the same time.

Will you buy clothes at Kroger?

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6 Comments
  1. We no longer have Kroger stores in Chattanooga, but I would not buy clothes there if we did. I don’t want to buy underwear at Williams-Sonoma or eggs from Nordstrom — they would want to sell your eggs and I’m sure the price would be at least $15 a dozen…you should call them!

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  2. We shop Kroger every week, but I don’t think I’ll be buying Kroger Klothes.

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  3. I think I may just draw the line at buying clothes from Kroger. Fantastic post, thanks for it.

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  4. Bunny Wilson permalink

    Here in Cincinnati, where Kroger is based, we already have several stores that are a combination of grocery and department stores…I actually thought that was typical of most cities these days (I’ve lived in four other cities where this was the norm), so this is nothing new. It’s really a non-issue to me. If I see a clothing item I like at Kroger, while shopping, of course I’d buy it. It’s silly to say I wouldn’t just because it used to be a store strictly for groceries. I personally like the convenience of not having to make several stops when I am out.

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  5. There aren’t Krogers in our area. Haven’t been in one in years. I hate to hear they are going big box store. Most of my shopping is done at Woodman’s (employee owned grocery chain) or Speigelhoff’s (local family owned grocery) Sure I could go to the Pig or Wally-town or one of the others but I don’t because Woodman’s meets the commissary prices for big shopping and Speigelhoff’s is reasonable for the quick “Oh darn I need ______” food stops. I drive past the everything to everyone stores to get to these.

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  6. No Krogers near here, but I’ve bought shirts, sugar and beer at Meijers.

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