What's Your Grocery Shopping Style?

The supermarket-- the microcosm of today's humanity!

Step inside its walls and you discover a strange place of wonder and Wonderbread... Of Press-n-Seal and personality... Of power strips and power trips!

The more we examine the techniques of our fellow shoppers, the more we discover that we are all, perhaps, not quite as unique as we may think. So look below and you may recognize some of these most common Grocery Shopping styles from your own supermarket adventures.

Or-- you just might discover that you yourself are one of the Grocery Shopping Personalities listed below!
  • The Speed Demon- Busy and loathing actual interactivity with other humans, this shopper can go from 0 to 60 in two seconds from the store entrance. This shopper knows what he/she wants, where it is, and the grocery store serves as one giant obstacle course before the checkered flag goes down and they race over the Finish Line. The Speed Demon is that blur the other shoppers see, and that gust of wind that blows the produce bags and makes the scales teeter. The Speed Demon is an irritation to members of some of the other shopper categories below, who deem it bad etiquette to cause sonic booms around the egg cartons.
  • The Social Butterfly- From the moment this person steps through the automatic doors, it becomes a two-hour episode of "This Is Your Life." Yes, everyone they've ever met seems to already be there, waiting to greet them-- so it becomes less a case of grocery shopping, and more like a class reunion. Why, Social Butterflies don't even have time to squeeze the tomatoes before someone is calling their name and causing them to forget all about Jersey Homegrowns. Hugs and kisses ensue. First grade teachers, old neighbors, aunties, plumbers and college sweetheart's cousin's former roommates can be found within the aisles to prompt a nice sprawling catch-up session. But be warned-- don't get tangled up in their elaborate tapestry of reminiscence and askew shopping carts-- you may never make it out of the store yourself!
  • The Codependent Caller- This person has been sent to the grocery store by another friend or family member, and has absolutely no idea why he's/she's there. This shopping type is unable to take two steps down any aisle without grabbing their trusty cell phone and ringing for support. You can recognize them by the philosophical questions they ask. "No Pulp? Some Pulp? Or Xtreme Pulp?" So absorbed are Codependent Callers in getting the precise item they'd been sent for, they generate an actual Force Field Bubble which blocks out all outside stimulus but the groceries and the person on the other end of the line. But beware, Codependent Callers come out in full-force during the Christmas holiday season. Encounter one of these well-meaning souls along with a Social Butterfly, and expect serious traffic jams in frozen foods. The bubble will prevent them from ever hearing you say, "Excuse me..."
  • The Zen Shopper- This person is at One with the Universe and therefore has no special agenda, or plans for their day-- ever. This means if they need to examine every single carrot in that bag of baby carrots, or weigh the yin-yang benefits of soup contents, they can do it. They might want some fruit, or a birthday cake, or corned beef hash, or lightbulbs, but they really aren't sure-- they figure they'll know it when they see it. They love life, have all the time in the world, and view grocery shopping as just another calm, fascinating, fancy-free moment in this beautiful world. The trouble with Zen shoppers is, because the universe knows no bounds to them, they also tend to spread out. The Zen shopper is most likely to determine the ideal time to remove all outerwear... is in the door way. Watch out for unexpectedly outstretched arms in mid-coat-removal.
  • The Survivalist- This person treats grocery shopping as an extension of a nuclear bomb training drill. At the first sign of snow, the year 2000 problem or strained relations with Russia, this person heads to the grocery store to stock up on everything from toilet paper, bread and milk to batteries, generators and tinfoil. You can recognize them because they're the ones dragging two shopping carts filled to the rim with canned goods and other items with no real expiration date. While they can be found frequenting bulk purchase stores like Sam's Club, they occasionally hit regular supermarkets for variety, as well as for rolls of toilet paper smaller than grain silos.
  • The Minimalist- In contrast to the Survivalist, the Minimalist only picks up the very things that will be used for that day-- and this almost always involves fresh vegetables and something of the soy and or goat-by-product family. If asked, they will explain to you how much better it is to have everything fresh every day, and will be happy to share with you recipes for healthy eating. They will come away with one small canvas reusable grocery bag of items-- yet still somehow spend about as much money as the Survivalist.
  • The Shepherd- Unable to find a sitter for the children, the Old Woman Who Lives in the Shoe is forced to strap them all in the mini-van and heads to the store. Tired and trying desperately to tune out their cries long enough to find the right coupon in her Advanced Portable Coupon Distribution System, she finds herself spending 80% of her time trying to round up the anklebiters. Eventually, she is forced to abandon her endeavor with a proclamation: "Okay, that's it! Forget it! Everyone, stop what you're doing and headto the mini-van. We're all going back to the shoe!"
  • The Invisible Man- You never actually see him because his groceries... are delivered. He pays more to avoid every one of the groups above-- and he laughs... laughs... OH how he laughs!
What kind of grocery shopper are you? Or is there a shopper type missing from this list you'd like to include? Go ahead and share it!

Me, mostly I am the Speed Demon, though I have had my Zen Shopping moments on days off.



Karen said...

I'm a Speed Demon, but with a list and a tall confused husband in tow. He insists on pushing the cart, and he does it down the middle of the aisle, and he stops whenever he feels like it. So I guess I'm kinda like The Shepard too, except I just have one 6'2" child who wants everything and gets in everyone's way.

Jenn Thorson said...

Karen- Ah, yes-- I have had the same experience when bringing my dad along. Being the Demon, he tries to keep up, and trods my heels and then gets in everyone else's way. I hear you!!

Andrea said...

When I go to the grocery store I can't seem to forget that I am a thrift-shopper. There is absolutely NO rhyme nor reason to my navigation. I know where everything is at, but I am treasure hunting, so I can be found going from aisle 1 to aisle 9, back to aisle 3 and then back to aisle 9.....I wear the wheels off of the carts. I'm looking for clearance food! My poor Mother, who has a food service license, believes that my family is going to die of food poisoning any day. LOL No, I'm not on a budget....I'm just CHEAP! So, I guess that I could be called the "Bent Can Queen" of grocery shopping. Plus, my pet rabbit LOVES those bags of lettuce mix that expire TOMORROW.

Jenn Thorson said...

Andrea- I think the Bent Can Queen is a good one for the list!

Anonymous said...

I hate shopping of any kind and most definitely grocery shopping. Yes I go with a list and I kvetch and kvetch with every step. They never have what I want; I can't see what is there because some idiot's are standing stock still and jabbering right in front of the section I need to get at, and "excuse me" is not penetrating their self-absorbed inane conversation, oh, sorry I kinda got carried away there. How about the "shopping under duress with a whole lot of attitude" shopper?

Anonymous said...

I think there's going to be a lot of survivalists, of the bread and milk variety tonight. Me? I'm the Forget What I'm Getting Until I Get Five Aisles Away And Then Have To Go Back Person (and then usually it starts all over a few minutes later with different aisles). I guess I'm The Wanderer. I love your categories, especially the Codependent Caller. They're my favorites, especially that force field bubble that you better not try to break. They'll probably snap at you, if you try.

Jenn Thorson said...

Broadway Matron- Sounds a bit like you might be a bit of a Speed Demon with some road-rage issues due to the Zen Masters and Social Butterfies. :) And hey, I hear ya. There are days, I tell ya... there are definitely days... :)

Rambler- Heh, The Wanderer-- or perhaps just the Rambler, in your honor. You know, I'd had to write this because of all the Codependent Callers I'd noticed over the holidays. There were, I swear, SIX different people in the dairy aisle on the phone at the same time, with absolutely NO idea why they were there. It would have been really funny if it weren't so sad.

Perhaps their spouses beat them if they accidentally choose 2% milk instead of skim.

Da Old Man said...

I am the Invisible Man. Peapod is a delivery service around here associated with Stop and Shop. I shop by 'net.
Mrs. was sort of the Zen Shopper. Every trip would be hours long while she mentally debated which can of beans to buy. Is Campbell's worth the extra nickel? Does Jay Bush's dog really have plans to sell the secret recipe? Do Stop and Shop brand beans really give Crotchety extra gas?
This went on in every aisle with every product.
The Princeton Whole Foods store has a Restaurant, so we would have lunch, and our trips would take as long as 4 hours.
Peapod is awesome.

Adullamite said...

I am the 'Chainsaw Massacre Shopper.'
It is one lace where I could easily kill. The depths of human sin are found here in the store.
I once wrote a long letter to a local paper suggesting a 'Men only day' in shops so we could get in and out easily. quickly, and efficiently.

I had to lie low for weeks after all the hate directed at me by females (The weaker sex?)

Jenn Thorson said...

Da Old Man- Ah, you are the first Invisible Man among our ranks-- welcome-- LOVE the Claude Rains hat and sunglasses. :)

And yes, the Busch's baked bean dog IS planning to sell the recipe. He's just a lousy business man, that he hasn't realized his goals yet.

Jenn Thorson said...

Adullamite- While I do respect your Men Only day idea and can see the benefits of that, at least at Christmas time, men represented almost all of the Codependent Callers I ran into, (almost literally ran into) and the other bunch of them were somewhere between Zen Masters and Wanderers... lost, confused, disoriented, prone to sudden about-faces-- and tripping us Speed Demons, cutting full minutes off our roadtime. :)

Jen said...

I'm a speed demon and my husband is the Zen. We were trying to go to the grocery store together as a cheap date night, and it was a diaster!

JD at I Do Things said...

Very clever! I'm most like the Zen shopper, ever since I discovered how much fun it is to shop while sipping my large McDonald's coffee. Makes the experience SO much more pleasant. However, I wouldn't mind being The Invisible Man.

JD at I Do Things

Jenn Thorson said...

Jen- So where the case of in marriage Opposites Attract, it's a less attractive quality in a shopping buddy! :)

JD- I would think it would be hard to be Zen while really caffeinated... interesting!

ReformingGeek said...

Hubby and I shop together. We are usually Zen or Speed Shopper forever irritated by The Shepherd and his/her sheep. It's a problem when Hubby is Zen and I want to get done or vice versa but in general we know what we want to buy and just want to get done with it.

We used to have deliveries available but they all went away a few years ago. Oh well.

Jenn Thorson said...

ReformingGeek- Sounds like you do have some sort of system going.

I've never had groceries delivered. I think I would feel guilty for some reason. :)

Matt said...

Husband of the Shepherd...totally.

I'm so bad.

Drowsey Monkey said...

You've thought about this too much, LOL!

I guess I fall into the speed demon category,except I don't do anything fast. I'm kind of a Half fast speed demon. (say that fast...and it' half assed speed demon) lol

Jenn Thorson said...

Matt- But points for admitting it! Awareness is a beautiful thing. :)

Drowsey- Sadly, I didn't have to think about it MUCH-- I think my brain was subconsciously thinking about this without me for while!

Halfastdemon, halfastdemon... Know what? You're RIGHT!

Anonymous said...

I'm the ORGANIZER. I know my territory, and I lay out my progress according to aisle category and I always place the can goods together; the cold together, the bread carefully in the toddler seat. Then when I get to the checkout, I have a cussing FIT because I forgot to bring my recyclable bags...yep...they're home.....with my coupons.

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

The worst is when the Codependent
Caller has to pick up pads. Maxi or Mini? Regular or Long? Heavy or Light Days? With Wings or Without?
Scented or Regular?

SimplyForties said...

Oh my, I guess living in the same little tiny town for 30 years has made me a Social Butterfly, whether I want to be or not. I do usually know a lot of people in the store. Woe be unto me if I'm in a hurry. It helps to shop before 5p. In a particularly good mood, I'm sometimes a Zen shopper.

Anonymous said...

There was one store where I used to get ambushed by the guys who wanted to have meaningful discussions over the melon and cantaloupe section. Perhaps we could call them the Ambush Lotharios of the Produce Section. My current grocery mostly has toothless guys who tell me to demand my free chicken because the store had a deal that if they ran out of precooked chicken, the store has to provide a free one to the shopper. I need to find a better grocery, eh? The Lotharios seem to swarm in Whole Foods, btw, if anyone's looking for a casual conversation about "melons".

Kisa said...

Speed Demon Invisible Girl...order whenever I can, get it over with as quickly as possible when I can't. As a Speed Demon, I'm of the Minimalist variety, as that gets me out faster (and requires the least thought expended on groceries).

Jenn Thorson said...

Dana- I actually FELT your pain on that one. And I have an awful time remembering to bring my reusable bags. There's got to be a trick to it. Staple it to the arm, maybe. :)

Prefers- I haven't witnessed that one yet, but I bet it's a one-time-per-Caller sort of thing. Our Codependent Callers seem to have Frozen Food issues, mostly.

Simply Forties- Yes, I imagine the Social Butterflies increase as the town population decreases. :)

WordTapestry- Ah, yes-- very good!-- the Ambush Letharios, love it. The ones who read in some magazine that produce was a great way to meet women. Unfortunately, I'm so singleminded when I'm in the grocery store, dating over the dried dates just doesn't come to mind! :)

Kisa- That sounds about perfect to me.

Aoi said...

How do you classify someone who sends out robots to accomplish shopping and similar tasks? Where do we fit in? Do we fit in?

Margo said...

These categories are making me think I might be schizophrenic. I've been a speed demon at times in my life and can swing all the way over to zen. It depends on what's going on in my life. I used to think I was a classic type A (translate speed demon), but then I had to leave my job and realized that I wasn't that at all (zen)! I revert to speed demonizing during holidays and when my parents are coming to visit, probably because my inner child wants them to think I'm still a type A. Who knows. I went through being a coupon lady a few weeks ago, but that didn't last... I think I'm a zen who detest grocery shopping and aspires to be invisible man. Hubby is typical - co-dependant. Great blog!

Olga, the Traveling Bra said...

I think I'm kinda Zen-ish. Does that count?

Got a little sumthin for ya! :)

PinoyXfat said...

Nice post, Jenn.

The wife does the grocery most of the time. But you described me quite accurately as a Zen shopper. :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Aoi- Um, Ahead of His Time? Or George Jetson? :)

Margo- Ah, not schizophrenic-- just adaptable! :) My mother was a coupon lady, and shopping took FOREVER and involved going to several stores. Which I think is why I'm the Speed Demon I am today.

Olga- Well, it's probably just as well you're Zen. People would be questioning their sanity if a black bra when whizzing by them. And thanks for the lovely award!

PinoyXFat- Thanks for stopping by!

Chaotically Calm said...

Hahahaha too frigging funny. I think I am he speed demon slash anti shopper. I consider the anti shopper the person who detests the grocery store but goes because it has to be done.

Jenn you are too funny, how do you think of these things?

Anonymous said...

I actually am invisible, or at least believe myself to be. So in an effort not to freak people out due to the sight of floating food, I send my helper monkey, Ron Ronn, to do my shopping for me.

Jay said...

My husband is a speed demon, I'm more Zen ... but I wouldn't dream of taking my coat off in the doorway! LOL!

Funny post!

Jenn Thorson said...

Chaotically Calm- I hear you on that one! And I think you might work this way as well, but the funnier posts are usually borne of frustration. :) Being a Speed Demon in an area of many Zen Masters may have spurred it on.

Free the Unicorns- *Snicker* I'd imagine the banana bin might present too much of a temptation- he must have some self-control!

Jay- We do have those doorway coat-removal people. It's always very surprising to suddenly encounter this swung arm by your face.

PurpleGreenPops.com said...

My shopping style is to let my wife do it.

I get to stay home with our little man.

Makes life easier on us, for sure.

Chat Blanc said...

I too am a speed demon, thus the reason I hope there are never, ever any cop carts lurking in the stores to ticket me for speeding and running down old people. I'm probably a bit of a hazard! ;)

Jenn Thorson said...

PurpleGreenPops- Hey, whatever works for you and causes less pain, I can support!

ChatBlanc- Have you ever had other shoppers take umbrage with you because you're zipping around them? I made one rather strange elderly lady so mad once because I went around her that she sped up and rammed my butt with her cart! Nice manners, Grandma!

Chris Wood said...

It's highly important things like this are recorded for posterity. I have already committed the list to memory.

Jenn Thorson said...

Chris- Just doing what I can for archaeologists of the future!

bob said...

great post!


it's not my shopping style that is so interesting. it is my exiting skill that separate me from the rest. in addition to being king of the unpublished, i am prince of the long checkout line. i warn those behind me not to judge by the length of the line but rather the content of my cart. and i guarantee one of the two items i have to check out will require an hour of clerical chaos.

and they smirk, and think of me as the town loon. but without fail, an hour later they come to bow at my feet.

alas, a lonely prince i be.

STACI said...

My personality depends on what store I'm at. I abhor Walmart, but I have to go there to shop from time to time. When I do, I'm the Speed Demon, or I am until I get in line. Then I turn into Pissed Off Speed Demon because Walmart only ever has two or three lanes open. Meanwhile, if I go to Publix or Kroger, I'm more of a Zen shopper.

Jenn Thorson said...

Bob- I had one of those poor checkout choice moments over the weekend and totally thought of you and this comment. Sometimes there is just no winning.

Staci- I'm impressed by how thoroughly you seem to have thought this through. I like Publix-- when I visit my dad down south, I get the joy of roaming around the tranquility of his Publix. I understand where the Zen might come from. And yes, the Walmart experience is a great frustration for a Speed Demon. No question!