Thursday, December 22, 2011


Imagine walking into your favorite supermarket on December 22, shortly before Christmas, rounding a corner and coming face to face with a wall of candy such as the one above. Believe me, it is a jaw-dropping experience.

I knew where the candy canes were last week, but they sure weren't there this week. I had noticed as we walked in the door this morning that there was a huge display of ingredients for making Christmas edibles - Karo syrup, sugar, boxed cookie mixes, spanish peanuts and mixed nuts, along with every kind of pot, pan, bowl, and storage container one could possibly use for making these goodies, and I figured right at the front door was a marketing ploy to make sure that Christmas stuff would sell.

I figured there were a lot more Christmas items left in the usual spot. But was I wrong. It was February 14 in that aisle, for sure!

As if that wasn't startling enough, I turned around and found behind me a forerunner of this year's Easter items.

Jer and I were puzzling over this whole thing when a lady in a red Ralph's jacket walked up to us and explained:

Our Ralphs store is the guinea pig (her word, not ours) for all the items Ralphs wants to track for customer use and approval. Yes, people do buy Valentine's day candy before Christmas. If it is eye-catching, they figure they'll see just how good it tastes. Items that sit on those shelves week after week without moving are not ordered for the other Ralphs stores. It's all about Marketing, she said. We are the guinea pig store.

And now it makes sense that so many things appear and disappear in that store during the year. I hate to seem like I'm being paranoid (or worse yet, weird) but it seems that everything I find and like will ultimately disappear, because I am the only person who buys and likes it. Jer and I have laughed at how many things we have started using on a weekly basis disappear -- sometimes with a notice (close-out sale) or just never restocked after I buy the last one on the shelf. I do believe that when we check out, ringing up our items is like putting the kiss of death on them.

It was reassuring in a funny way to know just why we have always laughed at how far ahead the seasonal items are put on display -- Valentine's day and Easter before Christmas, Halloween items before Fourth of July, and Christmas items before Thanksgiving. Now we know. Not all Ralphs do this; just ours and for a good reason, whether we like it or not!

After the Ralphs lady left, I happened to notice down at the far end of the aisle, in the same location as the Christmas cooking items at the other set of doors, were the remnants of this year's Christmas goodies that should have been where the Valentine's candy now sat. They were there, catching the eye of people who came in through that set of doors, reminding them that Christmas is still ahead of us.

So all is well at our Ralphs. They are not crazy, as we were beginning to believe.

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