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They Took Away the Cashiers

The day I feared is finally here. I went to the grocery store and found no cashiers. The store, which is where I often shop due to its great location and convenient parking, now has self-checkouts exclusively. There isn’t even a live cashier lane.

I was already dismayed by their store reset in which they moved everything to the strangest places. It took me ten minutes to find my blood testing strips, and I never found the pinto beans.

The fact they have taken a great layout that was working and ruined it is bad enough, but to find no cashiers was heartbreaking for me. You see, I had that job when I was younger.

I was in the retail and grocery industry for ten years. I started out as a cashier, moved to front end manager, and eventually became a bookkeeper. I was even an assistant manager at one point. Every one of those jobs required me to run a cash register when needed because customer service was important.

Those jobs were good sources of income with flexible schedules that enabled me to go to college and still make a living. After college, I moved into management and worked a variety of hours. I had some of my best experiences while working as a cashier. I also had some incredibly unpleasant ones. I learned to deal with a variety of curve balls and think on my feet.

Cashiers are often the only employees with whom I speak when I shop. Retail establishments aren’t known for having people roaming the store to answer questions and offer a smile. The cashiers are the only people with the opportunity to provide me with great customer service. If I want to know why there’s no Bounce on the shelf or when the store expects their next toilet paper shipment, I ask my cashier. Rather, I did. I can’t anymore.

The store in question is convenient, right on my way home from work, with reasonable prices. It’s still a box store, but not a giant one. Taking away the cashiers removed any charm it may have had. I’m sad to say they’ve lost my business.

They always had great produce and a good meat department. I could usually find my favorite laundry soap in stock, which is difficult to find elsewhere. However, I resent ringing up my own groceries. If I’m going to do that work, I should receive an employee discount.

We should be offered a choice between self-checkouts and a live cashier. Some people prefer the self-checkouts, which is great. More power to them. I was a cashier for many years, and I was very good at my job. That doesn’t mean I want to do it again. There are other cashiers who were good at jobs they don’t have anymore, and that makes me mad.

I overheard a customer asking the same questions I had of the manager. He told her most people order their merchandise online and do curbside pickup now. He also told her that there are employees available to assist in the checkout process if someone needs help. I wonder how long I’d have to wait for someone to come and help me.

I don’t order from the store because I’m particular. I don’t want someone else picking out my food. I may not want the package of tomatoes they select, or the bunch of bananas may be too ripe. I examine everything I buy with care. I looked at four boxes of grape tomatoes before I found one that suited me today.

The city in which I reside has one big box store and a Braum’s for fresh groceries like meat and veggies. We have a Dollar General and a Dollar Tree for some canned goods and household supplies.

A few miles away, in a village on the highway, there’s a small box store (the very one with which I’m so disgusted) and a Harps. Unless I want to drive into Joplin or shop online, neither of which is always convenient, my options are limited.

It looks like Harps just picked up a lot more of my business. They still have cashiers in their store. Their prices may be a little higher, but I think it’s worth a few extra cents to have someone ask me if I found everything I needed, offer me a smile, and thank me for shopping there.

I understand businesses need to take care of their bottom lines. What I want to know is when it became good business to not take care of their customers.

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