More on Supermarkets, II

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More on Supermarkets, II

(This was too long for the Comments section, but has some great information, so herewith a "Guest Blog" by local-gal-moved-away, cm, whose heart obviously remains in Westhampton Beach.)

Wow. Y'all just channeled Upton Sinclair, MFK Fisher, Jamaica Kincaid, and Poppa Heming­way in two blog entries and half-a-dozen Com­ments. I clearly need to move back there im­mediately to soak up the culture that I've so missed.

Not to get all Proustian on you, but in the '60s and '70s, A&P smelled liked the Eight O'Clock Coffee from the grinders at each cashier's aisle. The only time that anything ever smelled spoiled was the result of a dairy container mis­fortune in the parking lot.

Back to the present: hauling in a supermarket chain's District Manager for a Village flogging with a staged audience is like looking under a street lamp for a misplaced lab sample of dan­gerous bacteria because there just happens to be some artificial light there.

A market that smells like spoiled meat is a ticking time bomb for a public health disaster. Please consider calling the Suffolk County Public Health Hotline at 631-787-2200 about the Westhampton Beach store.

A call to the Executive Office of Consumer Af­fairs at 631-853-4600 is also a good idea.

Waldbaum's can tolerate the fines and the occasional lawsuit... they simply pass on the costs to shoppers.

However, it is far less likely that they will be able to withstand repeat inspections and readily available official information on a history of documented offenses for a specific store.

On April 1, 2009, Consumer Affairs launched an as yet unpopulated "watch list" for repeat violators of consumer protections.

Waldbaum's has been on the radar of Suffolk consumer advocates for years. The Sunset Avenue store has been one of the offending locations for pricing violations, and the Wald­baum's chain has been has been fined for them.

Consider the following exchange in the March 6, 2003 meeting of the Consumer Protection and Government Operation Committee of the Suffolk County Legislature.

In response to a question by Legislator Angie Carpenter about "a repeat offender like Wald­baum's," Director of Consumer Affairs Charles Gardner responded:

"[T]he last 20 inspections, the last 20 pen­alties leveled against Waldbaum's for in­stance, the average penalty for those 20 is about $1400, and they're just -- they're paying."

Imagine the impact if Westhampton area folks convinced the Executive Office of Consumer Affairs to cross-post complaints made to the Bureau of Public Health Protection because of the store on Sunset alone.

(And there endeth the Guest Blog.)

I think cm shoulder seriously consider moving back here... never mind the "culture..." to be Westhampton Beach's first Commissioner of Consumer Affairs!

(Memo to Joan Levan: forget the peanut gallery next time! This is how some­one serious about it brings pressure to bear on a Waldbaum's.)

Big thanks to cm whose Google-foo is equaled only by her passion for her native Village.


1. The Quiogue Kid said...

Dean brought up a good point... at one time there were six gas stations in WHB and I will add at least three grocery stores... Bohacks, A&P and Wexelbaum's (always good for free fish heads from their seafood department for crabbing as a kid). The population was smaller and all made out okay... why now can't there be at least a few of the above convienences?? I don't get it!

Don't forget Gelston Walter's grocery store (later Victor's) and the other one just across the alley.

2. Tugboat Bertha said...

The "other" grocery store just across the alley was Ralston's run by Howard Firth who lived in Quiogue. Gelston's store was Royal Scarlet.

3. Susan said...

Any noticeable "improvements" since the meeting?

Not much beyond some cleaning... but then I don't shop there much, #1, and, #2, the proof would be after the season starts, wouldn't it?!

4. BettyBoo said...

And who in their right mind goes into that store after the season starts??? rules.

Thanks for the tip.

5. Susan said...

Yes, when the important people are here.

I can't quite see that as being a major factor in Waldbaum's thinking. They've pretty much got a captive consumer base all year 'round.
– Dean

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