I’m afraid I might have to stop shopping at Tesco Metro. I enter the store pumped for new groceries and leave in a stressed, frazzled state. That shouldn’t happen while grocery shopping.
For starters, the store itself is stress-inducing. Whoever designed the store did not count on anyone using a shopping cart or there ever being more than five people in the store at once. There are pillars, displays and storage carts in the middle of almost every aisle, making it impossible for more than one cart to fit through at a time. The aisles are so jam-packed that you can never stop to contemplate a purchase. You have to grab the item while still maintaining a steady speed so as to not create a backup. It’s like driving around looking at Christmas lights — you can slow down, but you can’t stop or people will honk. If Tesco insists on offering giant shopping carts in their tiny store, they should install horns on them. Nothing jolts an oblivious aisle-blocking stroller-toting mum like a good honk.
The store designer also did not count on there ever being more than two people in line at each check out (or “more than two people queued up at each till,” if I must Britishize it). If there are more than two customers, they stretch out into the aisles, making it difficult to cross the front of the store or to go down an aisle. No one likes to leave a gap for fear of someone cutting. Yesterday was so bad that I actually would turn my cart around and backtrack down an aisle towards the back of the store just to avoid crossing the lines at the front. Don’t people have better things to do on a Thursday morning than hit up Tesco?
The store is also in a bizarre location. It is called the St. John’s Wood Tesco Metro, but it doesn’t feel like St. John’s Wood. Someone on Twitter described the SJW neighborhood best: “Stunning houses, wealthy Americans, lots of dry cleaners but lacking in pubs.” It is also lacking in grocery stores, likely because all the “rich Americans” use delivery services (my refusal to have my groceries delivered is material for another post). The minute I hit Church Street it’s like I’m in a different ‘hood, a different country almost. There’s always a Middle Eastern-esque street market going on. They have your usual street fair items — fresh fruit and vegetables, jewelry, knock-off handbags and suspiciously cheap clothing. But there are also some really bizarre items, like duvets and small household appliances. It’s weird. “Hey, where’d you get that crock pot?” “Just down the street — literally.” There’s also always a strong incense aroma in the air. This is what I lug my shopping trolley by every time I’m craving Tesco-brand orange-mango juice or mushroom sauce.
I really wish I could commit to a grocery store and become a regular shopper. But there are three different stores within a mile and a half of my flat, and I like things from all of them. I go to Sainsbury’s for most items, but Waitrose has the best salad dressing and croutons. Tesco Metro has better ready-made meals and the mushroom sauce I like to eat with gnocchi. Of course yesterday they were sold out of it. That also contributed to my stress — lugging my shopping trolley over a mile for a certain item to find out it was out of stock. I also went because they were having a 3 for 2 sale on cereal. My family is coming in two weeks so I thought I should stock up on my some breakfast items. I have eight boxes of cereal now. I may have taken that too far.
In short, I wish I could quit you, Tesco Metro, but your prices and mushroom sauce may just keep me coming back. Perhaps I’ll make the journey worth it next time and pick up a nice £1.99 jumper (that’s British for “sweater”) or rice cooker from a street vender.