Why grocery stores are not men friendly

man-grocery-store-400x300Last night I went to the local grocery store for a few staple items, things like milk, bread & Doritos.   It took me 3 hours.

Needless to say, I really dislike trips to the grocery store.   I never need many items and it takes me about as long to shop for those items as it does for me to re-paint the house.

As I wander around in the grocery store’s version of purgatory, I have come to the realization that this place was not built for men.  Here are a few reasons why:

  1. The layout.   Most grocery stores have you walking right from the parking lot into the produce section.  Shocking as this may be, men do not prefer to pick up their brocoli first.  Or ever.  Men want soda, chips, beer, and pizza.  If grocery stores really wanted men to be there, they would put our items first, not make us wander around the labyrinth of aisles looking for them.
  2. The aisles.  When women were creating grocery stores, who decided what items would be grouped in a particular aisle?  Who decided the order the aisles would be in?   Why do they not have a map at the front door that makes everything more clear?   (For the record, men like maps – we just don’t want to have to ask someone for help reading one.)   Instead, I walk in with a small list of things to get and the next 3 hours are a scavenger hunt.  Where are the hot dogs?  Why are the buns half a mile away from them?  If you could watch me on film, you would see that I am in every aisle about 4 times – carefully looking up and down every part of it – looking for my item, otherwise known as Waldo.
  3. The shopping cart.   There is absolutely no way to push a shopping cart around and retain any level of cool.  Given that 9 out of 10 shopping carts have a rogue wheel that cause them to swerve in the aisle, it is an impossible machine to tame.  Besides, it is a well-known fact that men like to ride on things, not push them around.  The ride-on mower is “exhibit A” for this argument.  If a woman ever invents a ride-on shopping cart (or vacuum cleaner), men would instantly be interested in taking over these duties.  Just a suggestion.
  4. Too many things to kill.   Since caveman times, men were known as hunters and women were gatherers.  Following our instincts, most men and women treat all forms of shopping the same way.  Men enter, focus on the prey, kill and leave with it in hand.  By contrast, women enter, look at everything, touch everything, and come home with 37 bags of groceries.  For a man to hunt one item at a store is easy.  They are good at that.  But give a man a list of 10 items and 4 will be the wrong size, 3 will be the wrong brand and the other 6 will be stuff he wanted, not on the list.  Frankly, it’s unrealistic for men to remember long orders like, “Pick up chips, soda, beer, milk, bread, chicken, pizza, napkins, sugar, cheese, etc.”   All we hear is “blah, blah, chips, soda, beer, blah,  blah, blah, pizza, words, words, words, etc.”
  5. The store temperature.   It could be the dead of winter in Alaska.  You could be in the middle of Hell in the middle of July.  It doesn’t matter – the grocery store temperature will feel like 30 below zero.   I am always freezing when I am in there.  How can I expect to make a decision on what can of tuna fish to buy when my teeth are chattering?   How can I possibly focus on my coupon savings when I’m trying to cuddle with the man in the same aisle for survival?   It’s well documented, the longer you stay in a store – the more you will buy.  If they want men to stay in the store longer, they need to raise the temperature to at least the low teens or provide NorthFace thermal underwear and a ski mask.
  6. The lack of other men.   As you might expect, 90% of the shoppers are female.  Inevitably, I will walk down an aisle and see an experienced shopper there.  This shopper, always a woman, has an intimidating amount of groceries in her cart.  As I look at her pile of groceries, I can’t help but wonder how long she has been here.   Given that it takes me 3 hours to pick up six items, she has to have been here for weeks.  I wonder if her kids miss her.  Or how hungry her husband must be.  On the rare occasion that I do see another man, I usually give him a knowing nod that is the equivalent of “I got your back.”   It’s like he’s my battle buddy.  Except we are not in battle and he’s not my buddy.  Other than that, it’s just like that.
  7. The lack of help.   Doesn’t anyone notice that I’ve been in the store for 3  hours?  Isn’t someone watching the security camera wondering why I’ve been circling Aisle 3 for the last 45 minutes?  Aren’t there supposed to be employees that are available to help those with a confused look on their face?  And why do the experienced shoppers (aka women) watch us men helplessly wander instead of trying to assist?  If the roles were reversed (let’s say at Lowes) both men and store employees would go out of their way to help our confused/lost female counterparts.   When I finally reach the check out counter, (disheveled and exhausted) and the lady asks, “Did you find everything ok?” – I just want to cry.
  8. The abundance of options.   Why are there so many choices out there?  How many different brands of cat food companies are there?  How many different flavors of cat food does a cat really need?  Before grocery stores were invented, cats ate mice.  Now, cats have more options than most high school cafeterias.  Fortunately, I don’t buy cat food but the human food choices are no easier.  How can I possibly know what to buy with all of those options?   Am I shopping price alone or do I need to look for sodium percentages?   What about calories?   And how much saturated fat is there?   Shopping time would be reduced in half if they just had two options per food item.  Big or small.  Cheap or fancy.  Healthy or tasty.  I feel like using a lifeline to call a nutritionist just to buy a box of cereal.   It’s utterly exhausting.
  9. Self-check out.  Self check-out is a brilliant concept.  Instead of standing in a 45 minute line, the self-check out option makes you feel like you control your destiny… or at least have some control over your schedule.   But is it really any quicker?   For starters, I can never seem to find the bar code for the machine to read.   Then, I’ll want to scan bananas, except there is no bar code for them so you have to weigh them.   Apparently, the scale takes a few hours to stop shaking from the last piece of fruit that was on it.   Of course, as soon as I begin my self-check out experience, a line immediately forms behind me.   I now feel pressure to scan quicker, bag quicker, pay quicker.   Paying quicker is never an option though and whatever you do, never pay with cash.  You will stand there forever trying to get the machine to accept your wrinkly bill as if you are presenting a peace-offering to an Egyptian god.   The self-check out money god seems to prefer plastic. 

If loneliness doesn’t drive single men into a relationship, the grocery store certainly will.  No man in his right mind can enjoy this experience on their own.  Other than the sample food kiosks where kind older people prepare food and let you sample it, there is little appeal to the grocery store for men.  

Call me when the ride-on grocery cart is invented.  Until then, I’m going to pray that God sends me a bird to feed me as He did the prophet Elijah.  Now THAT is a great way to get your food!

“Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.   So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”  (I Kings 17:2-6)

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About Rod Arters

As a former youth worker, business owner, school teacher, coach and inmate, Rod has the unique ability to relate to almost anyone in whatever situation they are in. His thought-provoking blog about life, mistakes, faith, hope & grace has been read in over 175 countries. A popular writer & speaker, Rod draws from his deep well of biblical knowledge and personal pain to encourage others along the broken journey to wholeness. He hosts an invitation-only private Facebook group for men (called Brother's Keeper) and enjoys helping others find Hope in the midst of their painful situations. He currently resides in Charlotte, NC.
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31 Responses to Why grocery stores are not men friendly

  1. Kathleen says:

    Rod- they do have ride on carts…usually the person who can’t walk well uses them or maybe a very pregnant womanwith swollen feet…..but they are out there…take a ride…maybe you’ll enjoy the scavenger hunt more 🙂

  2. laurie farrand says:

    Very funny rod! Just to let you know, I feel the same way, and I am a woman. Completely overwhelmed.

  3. How about creating a “map app” for your local groc store. You can input your list and then a little voice will direct you around the store… “The bananas are on your right, Mr. Arters, but not to worry, the beer is just around the corner.” 🙂

    • Rod Arters says:

      Duane, I love this idea! I wonder if there is a market for it? Maybe we should develop this and hit the Shark Tank together! haha.

      • Cassie Wagner says:

        Certain stores already have this like Publix. You create a list of the grocery items you want and the list prints out in the order of the aisles and each aisle on the list tells you what is on that aisle from your list to pick up

  4. Mary says:

    LOL. My son hurt his back and loved cruising the grocery store in the riding buggy.

  5. Dreams-gate says:

    Loved your honesty & humor throughout this post! FYI: I’ve been known to fill two shopping carts, (totalling well over $300 to feed three “starving” teenage boys), and be in and out of the grocery store in under 30 minutes flat! But who’s bragging! haha

    • Rod Arters says:

      Wow Deb! 2 grocery carts under 30 minutes? You deserve to brag with that feet… unless of course, you are just throwing stuff in the cart like they do on those shopping sprees. Thanks for reading and commenting! When are you posting something on your blog? 🙂

      • Dreams-gate says:

        Oh, no.! I have a very strict long list I adhere to! Food shopping is not my favorite “activity”, I have to admit! 🙂 I have posted a few new posts in the last month or so! Check me out! 🙂 You’re still following me, I hope? I thought maybe you didn’t “like” me anymore! lol

  6. Lori Vande Linde says:

    This is so true and funny, glad I came across your blog

  7. Lori Vande Linde says:

    Most women are when something peaks their interest, google is a women’s best friend in this day and age lol:) and no not a stalker I enjoy reading and just stumbled across your blog which has lead me to reading all morning and that has lead to me getting behind at work, back to the grind for they day.

  8. Hey, buddy, that is very interesting. It is funny and very logic, too. I was very uncomfortable to share those feeling with my wife because I thought it was a matter of laziness. I finally understand, after I have read your blog, that all men like logic and full-making-sense life. Why all these varieties in the stores for the same thing while the virtue of it remain unchanged.
    By the way, I like your insight about the “Cat food”. I laughed very loudly on it.
    Eddyles J.

  9. Michelle says:

    OMG I am dying, crying and trying to catch my breath! I imagine my husband has those same thoughts!

  10. Rod, my hubby and I shop together most of the time, he is very good at remembering where items are in shops we frequent.. he checks size of items and flavours but he wants out as soon as possible so he controls the trolley, looks at my list once and mentally adds items he wants (or sees then wants) so I always find extra surprises later. .It has taken many years to get to this stage from letting me choose; helping- to speed the process; waiting outside (disappears to nearest Hardware or car-yard); to now when he takes the list off the fridge or just goes out and comes back with items we may have needed days earlier.. .. He also (usually) remembers which foods/brands we do not like..( LOL ) Never boring but quickly done.
    Maybe you do need a map of your favourite stores, some put lists at ends of aisles to help direct to correct aisle, and ASK for help,,,,, they do actually want shoppers to return .. not to have nightmares of the experience. This was a very funny read…. and i felt very sorry for you.

  11. Hehehe! This was great, thanks for posting. I can’t stop lauighing. 🙂 For the record, I feel the same way when I shop for clothes. So stressful1

  12. Jay Dubya says:

    You hit it on the head when you said the number of choices need to be very limited: cheap vs. expensive, large vs. small, etc. I’ve thought for years that the perfect way for men to shop for their sweethearts on Mother’s Day, Anniversary, Birthday, etc. would be to have three stacks of plain boxes full of lady gifts. The first stack is $20 each, the second is $40 each and the third is $60 each. A sign would say, “Presents for the woman in your life. All gifts here were chosen by other women and we promise these will come closer to pleasing her than anything you could pick. Choose by what you want to pay.” Honestly, that is all I would need to know – how much it was costing me, and a vague promise that the present was likely better than whatever I would come up with. The boxes could then be gift wrapped with a nice, appropriate card chosen for you to put on it. Wouldn’t this be a better way that how we struggle through this process, and mess it up every time?

  13. Steve Gill says:

    I’m getting my oil change and crying I’m laughing so hard. People are staring at me. Thanks Rod for keeping it real!

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