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Old 07-20-2012, 07:55 AM   #81
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Somewhere around 20 years ago HEB did a major remodel on one of their San Antonio stores. When the store re-opened for business, customers were given a floor layout so they could easily find what they wanted AND dozens of friendly clerks were stationed all over the store wearing "Ask Me" vests. Besides being a major public relations win, it was the best thing the store could have done in order to prevent log-jams of frustrated people.
I am always amazed how very well HEB executes. Consistently excellent. They do seem to keep a higher staff level in their stores. I'm never sure if it's like managers in training or just extra people keeping an eye on things.

BTW that remodel 20 years ago was based on what they learned from their flagship Central Market stores which was their attempt to compete with Whole Foods Market for the higher end customer. But I bet the real payoff was when they took the best of the ideas and incorporated them in their regular stores. I remember my neighborhood store going from one that was not so distinguished from Randall's and Albertson's to a really nice place to shop. And that environment rolled out across the state. I became a very loyal customer because they had excellent produce everywhere. Of course they still kept the excellent prices, or it wouldn't have worked in the long run LOL! Down here in The Valley, they've pretty much shut out the national grocery chains. Several local chains that are Mexican-oriented, Walmart, Sam's, and Costco is what you find.
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:29 AM   #82
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
I am always amazed how very well HEB executes. Consistently excellent. They do seem to keep a higher staff level in their stores. I'm never sure if it's like managers in training or just extra people keeping an eye on things.
They are privately held. They can probably invest more in training and in their employees because they don't have shareholders bitching about it. It's no accident, IMO, that a steadily growing number of employers on the "best places to work" list are privately held.
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:25 AM   #83
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Yep, I knew they were privately held and attribute part of their success to being able to execute on their long-term vision. I'm still amazed, however, that they so consistently excell when they introduce new ideas, etc.. The HEBs around here are very tailored to their area clientele. I have a couple of HEBs closer, but I go to one a little further away because it caters more to the "gringo" and snowbird clientele. It's also close to some very affluent (predominantly Mexican) neighborhoods. They run the biggest seafood counter in town - someone is buying all that seafood. Amazingly they have Dungeness crab* all the time among other crab offerings. Someone besides us is buying all that crab!

* This is stored frozen right after it was cleaned and cooked. And when I buy the half crab sections still frozen and thaw it at home, it's as fresh-tasting if not fresher than what I have eaten up on the Olympic Peninsula. Properly frozen crab is in the shell with an ice glaze covering it, and that's what they sell.
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Old 07-21-2012, 03:04 PM   #84
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Meanwhile, some grocery stores are getting rid of some of their self-service registers: Self-checkouts on decline nationally (video) - news-herald.com
We're not quite there yet, but I'm eagerly anticipating the grocery cart that knows how much each product should weigh, that scans all the bar codes as you head for the exit, and that simply prints out your charge slip as you unload your purchases into the car.

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So who still uses travel agents?
We actually used one last week, for the first time in several years. I went to United's website and started an itinerary without logging in. It seemed awfully expensive but I have no idea how much an airline ticket "should" cost, so I persevered. Then later I logged in with my frequent-flyer number and sonofagun: the prices dropped by over 30%.

However I still couldn't figure out the best itinerary (despite all the "help" being offered by the website) so I finally called a travel agent.

She moves through the system a lot faster than I do, and she sorted out all the alternatives much more quickly. We determined that if you're flying to two different cities during a trip, it's easier to fly to the last city first on a round-trip ticket and then backtrack to the first city (on a separate round-trip ticket). Two round-trip tickets also seem to be cheaper than flying a triangle of three one-way tickets. However United's website was not at all happy when I tried to purchase two round-trip tickets (with overlapping dates) on my own.

The agent saved me at least an hour of keyboarding and another couple hundred bucks.
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Old 07-21-2012, 03:44 PM   #85
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Have been doing the day-after-Christmas-clothing-sale thing for decades. It's fun to go into the stores at 6 a.m. when the only other shoppers are the motivated, frugal early birds.

I don't mind that the stores change their displays around - many customers like to see a "fresh, new" look. However, it took a lot of the fun away when the stores devoted more floor space to "petite" and "women's" sizes, meaning less to "misses" (regular) sizes, which I wear. In Macy's, the "regular" lady's sizes now occupy a modest section of one floor of a two-floor store. I realize why they had to do this, but it doesn't make me feel better about the smaller selection available for me to browse.

Ironically, it seems like the "petites" section is the biggest

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I have my clothes down to a pretty easy automatic process. The only time I shop other than to replace jeans or cargo pants or socks is right after or right before Christmas, when I have found some beautiful cashmere sweaters plenty cheap at Macy's. I also buy most kitchen stuff I need there. One thing I hate about Macy's is that they are always changing the location of their displays, in clothing, not so much housewares. If I am trying to keep tabs on the sweaters, I like to pop in to see how cheap they have become, and buy if my buy-point has been reached. With them always messing with the display locations I sometimes just give up and go outside.

This spring I wanted to buy a v-neck acrylic sweater, so I can wear it all summer without any concern about moths. Couldn't even find one downtown, but I got a really nice one on Amazon. I think it is Docker's brand. I also bought a few workout pieces at the recent REI sale. I wanted that Nike Dry-Fit, which feels good on my skin and is also very easy for me to hand wash after wearing so I am ready to go again the next day.

Ha
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