Comment of the Day: The Fine Art of Grocery Bag Architecture

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE FINE ART OF GROCERY BAG ARCHITECTURE “I will freely admit to being a bag snob, I was a bag boy at HEB in high school. Growing up in HEB’s hometown of San Antonio spoiled me as far as grocery shopping/bagging is concerned. Moving to Houston was quite the eye-opener. HEB sent all new hires to Bag School for two entire shifts to learn the obvious (no heavy cans on top of bread, no bleach bagged with grapes) and the not so obvious (creating walls, stacking soda bottles sideways). Most of the baggers were high school students and hadn’t had to buy our own groceries and therefore had no reason to care about how this stuff was placed in a grocery bag. (Most high school baggers I worked with also hadn’t had any pain in their life since the doctor slapped them on the ass, but that’s a different rant.) The Bag School taught a necessary skill for a vital employee: the last employee a customer has contact with before leaving the store. . . . Yes, I will come right out and say it: I’m one of those freaks who politely but firmly lies to the baggers, “no thank you, this is going to 2 different houses and I need to separate them.” Let your grocery bagging OCD freak flag fly.” [Matt, commenting on Heights Kroger: Okay, Now We’re Really Big]

28 Comment

  • Peeve: When I take 4 cloth bags and the bagger insists on putting everything in 1 or 2, making them too HEAVY for me to take up the stairs. It’s not like they are wasting their employers bags for goodness sake.

  • As a former bag boy I can tell you that it’s very hard to predict how many bags a customer wants you to use. One person’s too many is the next person’s too few. It was a constant source of frustration for me when these old ladies would act like I was a complete moron for using too many bags and the next one would flip out over me filling them too full.

    It would seem that if you brought your own bags that would make things easier for them though. If you bring 4 they should use 4.

  • Personal favorite is when the sacker puts each item in its own separate plastic bag!

  • Why lie? I just do it myself.

  • omg & ocd!
    I also choose my check-out lane by the bagger, to avoid:
    1) cowboys who just slam the stuff in the bags trying to keep up with, or exceed, the checker’s speed.
    2) grumpy special-needs folks who glower at me if I make a request or suggestion.
    So, I’ve evolved to hit the grocery store frequently enough to have smaller hauls and use the self-checking lane.
    I know, I’m a control freak.

  • I guess I’m a different kind of freak. I really prefer that the bags I bring to the store be completely filled. I’d rather take in two heavy bags that have to deal with 4 or 5 lightweight bags.

    Also, at my HEB, I’ve found that the women sackers know a lot more about sacking that the young men do. I avoid those lines where there are young guys doing the deed.

  • I’ll admit it, I am a total bag snob. So much so that when I empty my cart onto the motorized lane I organize the products into piles of things that should be bagged together. I also like to pick lanes without baggers so that I can get a jump on them and do it myself if possible.
    I also completely understand Matt’s original post and agree 100%. I am also a San Antonio transplant with a preference for HEB.

  • I also pick lanes without baggers so I can do it myself. Paper bags for everything except meat. I hate plastic bags.

  • U-Scan FTW

  • Wow, we’ve shared a lot about groceries bagging.

  • The 11th/Shepherd St Kroger has historically employed a number of mentally challenged adults as baggers. This is a kind gesture to the baggers (who do a good job overall), really doesn’t make that much time difference in a shopper’s busy day, and in fact gives a bit of forced, but welcome, perspective.

  • I totally organize on the belt so it gets scanned in the order I want it bagged too! I sound like an old curmudgeon when I say that people should take pride in their work, even grocery store baggers.
    The only time I worry about weight is with the soda bottles. Those cloth Kroger bags are too flimsy for 4 bottles, just right for 3.
    We haven’t tried the HEB Pantry on 18th yet, we’ll have to check that out.

  • I look to find the aisle where the pretty redhead from my University is checking. Then I try to lay out my stuff on the belt in the most inefficient manner possible to get that couple of extra seconds to talk to her. Then it is a bonus if there is no bagger, cause I am a slow bagger, which scores me a few extra seconds.

  • Some bag boys do well in life. Just ask Ron Burkle.

  • I grew up in a part of the country where there are no baggers. Mom put us to work at an early age learning how to do it right, My bother in fact became the most highly tipped bagger at Randalls one summer.

    I have to disagree with miss_msry, I prefer all my stuff in as few bags as possible without breaking the bag. I’d rather haul two heavy bags up to my apartment than a bajillion little ones. Plus, what a freaking waste of plastic! I try to take reusable, or insist on paper, but sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. One would think stores would try to use less bags, they, after all, are paying for them.

    In the end what I and everyone else has to remember, is that people are not mind-readers, and with a little direction to the bagger, maybe we’d all be happier with our experience. Worth a try anyway.

  • Me three on the conveyor belt item organization. From what I can tell my efforts are COMPLETELY lost on the sackers at both of the Krogerses I frequent. It certainly looks like the knowledge described by the original poster about how to organize groceries is as lost as the library of Alexandria. They seem like nice kids; the checkers are almost always high school girls and the sackers high school boys. They’re friendly and cheerful, but they don’t know jack about what to put together. I always find the “yogurt surprise” when I get home.

  • Other than the express lane, where do you actually get to put things on the conveyor yourself? I try to organize them in my cart, but the checker always foils my efforts.

  • toadfroggy:

    Every grocery store I’ve ever been to. Kroger, HEB, Randalls, Safeway, Fiesta. What are you talking about?

  • I’m talking about my Kroger where you pull the cart up to the line and the checker picks the item up from the cart to run it across the scanner. That’s the case everywhere I go unless I can get in the express lane.

  • Really? I’ve been putting stuff on the conveyor for as long as I can remember. The checker picks it up from the conveyor, scans it, and puts it back down where the conveyor moves it to the sacking area. (or rolls it round and round, if it’s cylindrical like a can or jar)

    Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever had a checker take something out of my cart. Maybe scan a large item like a big bag of cat litter or something, but never take something out. Not in thirty-odd years.

  • The only place we go that takes item sout of the cart is Central Market. Everywhere else it’s up to the customer to remove the items from the cart.

  • I know what you are talking about Toad, my old Kroger on OST was set up like that. The first time I went in and they did that I was surprised because I had never experienced a checker taking my groceries out for me. Most other re-modeled Krogers and I know for sure HEB, Fiesta and Randalls have the remove it yourself layout.

  • I’m just waiting for the HUGE walk-through scanner technology:
    You and everything in the cart gets scanned at once and paid for on the ol’ debit card.
    For a fee you can get your outfit dry-cleaned at the same time.

  • I’ll second Miz Brooke’s comments about the Shepherd Kroger’s employment of mentally challenged baggers. I’ll also agree that they bag groceries as well as the regular baggers, and that’s supposed to be a complement. For all the crap we pile on that Kroger in particular, they do go out of their way to do something positive for the community in this instance.

    Regarding the confusion on Krogers with or without conveyors – IIRC, the West Gray Kroger is set up so the checker unloads your cart as she scans the items, so us control freaks can’t pre-organize the groceries.

  • OK, it is clearer now. I have never bought a cart full of groceries at Central Market nor the West Gray Kroger. Out in the burbs what you describe is unknown.

    I would go so far as to say that certain people with certain mental disabilities do a VERY good job of bagging groceries. I’ve seen several.

  • I bagged groceries when I was in high school. I quickly learned that people have very strong opinions on how their groceries are bagged. The problem is that they are all different. As a previous poster said, baggers are not mind readers. You may think the way that you like groceries bagged is the correct way but the next person in line will disagree with you 100%. Have a little compassion for these guys. No matter what they do they are going to anger several people a day. It’s really fun not being able to say anything when some old lady treats you like a moron for doing the thing that the old lady before her asked you to do. One of the big rules is to never put cleaning products/chemicals with food. So what do you do when the person has one tiny bottle of some kind of cleaner? You have to put it in a bag by itself. Then they yell at you for not putting enough stuff in the bags. It’s a lose-lose situation for the baggers no matter what.

  • All the cold stuff together.
    All the canned goods together.
    All the produce together.
    All the lightweight boxed goods (cereal, rice, etc.) together.
    Don’t put glass bottles and jars right next to each other.
    Don’t put heavy stuff on top of bread, rolls, biscuits, or eggs.

    That’s how I put it on the conveyor.

    Beyond that, I don’t care. I’ve never heard of the no food with cleaners idea. I don’t think any of the sackers at my Krogerses have either.

  • OMG – they spent 2 shifts on how to learn how to bag groceries…?? What a bunch of l*sers.

    I worked at a grocery store in high school and bagging groceries was just part of the training. You asked the customer if they wanted their bags packed light or heavy. Common sense and COURTESY to the customer was used to determine how to bag groceries…i.e. – how would I pack this if they were my groceries that I just spent my hard earned money on. Of course, being up north, most everyone packed their own bags anyways and those were the days of the flats belts – like they still have at Fiesta on Studewood@14th. I wish Fiesta would stay there…