Dear IGA United Super,
I remember when our relationship all began. I was calling all of the grocery stores in the phone book, trying to find a place that would double my coupons. I was willing to drive extra to save double on my Dole fruit parfaits and my pre-shredded frozen hash browns. “Sure!” you said. “As long as it’s not a sale item we double them every day!” So, amidst the sounds of bells ringing and angels singing of savings to come, our relationship began.
At first, I found your old-school, unintentional retro atmosphere to be humorous and charming. When you tuned into the 80s station, I smiled in nostalgia. Now, in addition to looking like the grocery stores of my youth — with mustard yellow and awkward red aisle signs, old flooring, and a vegetable section that was like a separate brick cave — you sounded like that store as well. I could relax in the absence of crowds and in the simplicity of olden times.
I overlooked your strange brand selection. Either you would only carry brands I had never heard of, or you’d have only two or three options to choose from. Your entire dairy case was shorter than Wal-Mart’s banana stand. “Quaint! Simple!” I exclaimed, knowing that I had few choices, but reassuring myself that I’d get great deals on diapers, formula, and other high-priced items. Soon, however, I realized that your lack of selection was hindering my coupon-cutting goals. How could I save if you didn’t carry the brands I had coupons for? For a month now I’ve been hoping you’d carry Enteman’s Muffin bites so I could use the great coupon I found. Grocery shopping had become a game, with more points being awarded for saving more money in 45 and 55 cent increments. You weren’t playing by the rules.
Still, today I left my house and drove past the large, well-stocked HEB with its great weekly specials and buy-one-item-get-a-whole-mess-of-other-stuff-free coupons. Then, I passed the new Wal-Mart that promised me “Low Prices, Always!” On down the street, past the school, the fast-food joints, the road to my hairdresser’s, the pizza place. All the way until the main street narrowed and the buildings began to thin out — just to visit you. After our long shopping randezvous, I approached the check-outs. The skinny red-headed checker was talking to her friends. Apparently she was coming off her shift because she had already removed her IGA-approved uniform/polo shirt. I stood there awkwardly, wondering who would scan my coupons?
Then I saw a new checker come on-line. Here it was! The reason I drove all that way! Time to see how much I’d saved! I handed over my bunch of coupons and waited… As the young girl entered the first coupon, I noticed she didn’t double it. “Do you double coupons?” I asked, hoping to politely remind her of the principle upon which our relationship was founded. “Oh, yes ma’am, but only if they are below 50 cents.”
Below 50 cents? That’s not what you told me before! So few coupons are below 50 cents these days. They’re all 55 cents or 75 cents with a rare 45 cent thrown in there. IGA United Super, you disappoint me. All during my shopping experience I had been salivating at the idea of saving not $5, but $10 on Bean’s expensive formula. I daydreamed about the large line at the end of the bill that would proclaim my double-digit savings on my cart full of groceries. Here I was, on my first trip of the month and it was time to stock up while saving big, but you have let me down.
This is why we have to break up. I could overlook your lack of selection and your ancient interior (I’ve never been one to judge on appearances, you know), but this is something I can’t overlook. The trust has been removed from our relationship. From now on, I’ll be taking my coupon book to Wal-Mart, HEB, Brookshires, or any other place. We’re through. Don’t try to call me. Don’t send me any more text messages. And no, we can’t “just be friends.” With me, it’s all or nothing and you fall into the latter category.
Maybe when Bean is older I’ll take her by for a visit. I can show her what stores looked like when I was young and you and I can reminisce about old times. But, I’m sure it will be a long time before my raw heart and wallet have healed enough to handle that. Until then, I do wish you the best.