They recently opened a new PCC not too far from my house and I had been hearing rave reviews from my sister for some time. The newly re-finished inside, the wonderful deli, and the free fruit for kids policy. Apparently, when you shop with kids, they are each allowed to choose a produce item, free of charge. She said they were very proactive in their promotion and she had workers flagging her down multiple times each store visit, to inform her.
I pictured her walking down the aisle, workers sprinting like gazelles after her, waving their arms and breathlessly calling,
"Miss, Miss. Did you know we have a policy of a free fruit for your kids"
Finally catching up with her, he looks into the cart, where her beautiful, blond, boys are smiling and each holding a shiny red apple and he says,
"Oh, you did know. Well ,here, have some more" as in slow motion , he piles fruit into the cart up to the boys' heads, the boys giggling with glee, and a sunburst lights up their hair, giving them halos. She continues shopping and smiles at the other parents pushing carts with kids happily clutching an orange or zucchini to their chests. Fruit falling gently everywhere.
It sounded like a pleasant shopping experience, so when I needed some ingredients for a carrot-cream soup, we packed up and headed over. The kids had heard about the "policy" and were chattering all the way over as to what they would pick. I was happy it gave them something to discuss other than "that's my window, look out your window, Mom, he's looking out MY window" and our trip seemed to be off to a pleasant start.
I have to admit, I was actually very curious if the staff would be as enthusiastic about passing on their policy info to a mom with four kids as one with two. I know the co-op is not necessarily known for supporting large-family-friendly policies, but I was sure they wouldn't mind me shopping there. But would they share the fruit?
I parked out front and we paraded up to the shopping carts and got organized fairly quickly: Pippin in the big part of the cart, Kateri on the port, Cyril starboard, Audrey floating around and occasionally stepping on one of the other kids. We entered unceremoniously, and headed to the dairy section for some milk and heavy cream. We passed several workers who all seemed to be intent on their work, eyes lowered, moving quickly about. I thought I overheard one whisper into his headset "Quick, hide the Honey Crisps" but I could have been imagining it. After 10 min I started wondering if the "promotion" was over as I had not been accosted, or even acknowledged by a single employee.
Every once in a while one of the kids would ask when could they pick out a fruit. I told them when I was done getting everything on my list, we would head to the produce.
When one of the employees, who was stocking a shelf, accidentally knocked a box over on to Cyril (it only grazed his shoulder and was almost empty) I thought, this would be the time to say,
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Are you ok? You are? Oh good. Hey, did you know you can pick out any fruit you want from our store? Yeah! You can each pick one. Here let me show you the delicious oranges we just got in".
But no. He did say the first part and then a lady came over from the meat counter and started plastering Cyril with "special" stickers- the ones you put on the meats that are about to expire-and offering them to the other kids, all the while saying "And you're special today. And you're special today". But no fruit. I guess not that special. Afraid of getting smothered by too many "special"s we finally headed to the fruit section. The kids excited, me feeling a little slighted.
I had not anticipated how difficult it would be for them to choose just one piece of fruit. Audrey was in agony trying to decided between an asian pear and a honey orange. Cyprian had already chosen the latter and she, thinking he was the most malleable, was trying to get him to agree to give her half in exchange for half a pear. At the mere mention of cutting his fruit the deal was off, and Audrey was back to square one. She finally settled on the pear and we headed for the check-out, the kids each holding their fruit, me wondering if I was paying for it. Which would have been fine except the kids had been really excited about the program, and felt special when I had told them it was just for kids and I had to pay for my apples.
When we got to the counter Pippin, knowing how it works, handed the lady his orange. She took it and seemed ready to scan it, then said, in a sort of confused and not terribly explanatory way,
"Oh, he can just keep it."
So the kids were happy and cut up their treats when we got home, and I made carrot soup and remembered on the way home I had wanted wine so we stopped at QFC to ge a single bottle of reisling where the checker remarked,
"So that's the secret with four kids."
The little kids enjoying their oranges- Pippin did eventually share with Audrey, so she was happy.
And the carrot soup turned out very well. We ate it all and the french bread Cyril helped me make- he has been telling me he wants to learn how to cook more than just hashbrowns. And I did buy some Honey Crisps- they didn't hide them quickly enough- so I'm planning a little maytag bleu cheese and apple appetizer later to celebrate the start of the week-end. I love Shane's four day work week. And I am loving that he still has a work week -period. Although Shane says if he did get laid off, it might be kind of exciting and might free us to do something crazy- like sell the house at a loss, buy a leaky boat, and travel the world. At least our Palau trip is already paid for so I guess that could be a good start to a new way life.
Oh, but I forgot to mention, they did inform me about a new promotion just starting at PC(C). For families, you can get a free 10 lbs bag of sugar. Seriously. Whatever kind of sugar you want. When you shop there you'll just see people walking around carrying 10 lbs bags of sugar. The checkers all know about so you can just walk out the door with your sugar and nobody says anything. Its really cool. Check it out.