10 Things Southerners Know Best About Grocery Store Etiquette
You don’t want Mama catching you misbehaving.
This content originally appeared on Southern Living.
Trips to the grocery store can be downright exhausting. You can be shoved to the side for a super bargain at the dairy aisle, growled at by customers for clipping coupons at the cash register, or getting stuck in a grocery aisle while someone catches up with their long lost third cousin twice removed. Sometimes a trip to Harris Teeter or Publix feels like one shopping cart bump away from an open war zone. That’s why it’s important to remember that when it comes to keeping grocery stores a civil and environment pleasant, we’re all in it together.
As a refresher course for how to keep the grocery store friendly and—dare we say it?—fun, here are ten rules for southern grocery store etiquette:
It’s frustrating to start your trip to the grocery store by searching for a cart. That’s why it’s important to remember what you learned in kindergarten and put things back when you’re done with them. Even if it’s raining or the kids are fussing, take a minute to return your cart and don’t leave them strewn around the parking lot waiting to dent someone’s car.
Grocery stores are designed for people to keep moving in them. Grab what you need from the shelves and keep going. Sure, everyone can get transfixed by the immense variety of cereal and yogurt options, but once you’ve made your choice, make room for the next customer. It can be hard to pick up a few groceries at the Publix without running into an old neighbor or high school friend, but as you say hello, try not to block access to the pickles and chips.
Children are not exactly known for behaving properly in grocery stores, but it’s up to parents to do their best to make sure their children are behaving, or at least aren’t staging a peach war in the produce section. It’s up to non-parents to be patient and understanding if a parent has her hands full and just wants to get her shopping done and her brood back in the minivan.
We’ve all picked up a can of beans or a bottle of dish soap only to find a cheaper version elsewhere in the store. Don’t just stick the beans in with the potato chips, though. Either take the time to return the item to where it belongs or at the very least hand it to the clerk at check out so it can be returned to its proper location.
Be patient. Be kind. Be grateful. Sure, it can be frustrating to have to explain to a new clerk that the leafy greens she’s staring at in bewilderment are collards or if they have to call for a manager to ring up your coupons, but that’s no reason to forget your manners. Say hello, say thank you, and be on your way.
When the sign says “10 items or less” don’t try to sneak in with 15. Your fellow customers know, the clerk knows, and you know that you’re being a sneak and it’s just going to aggravate everyone around you. If you want to get out of the store quickly, studies show that the secret is to follow the person with the most items in their basket.
This rule is not just for grocery stores, of course. It’s just good manners to put the phone away before greeting the clerk and getting through the check-out process quickly.
If a grocery store is handing out samples of their store-made pimento mac and cheese, the bakery’s Mississippi Mud pie, or the locally grown peaches feel free to take one, but only one. The samples are not there to tide you over until supper time, but to convince you to buy their products and only one sample will suffice for that purpose. Of course, if you’re pregnant, you’re eating for two.
If you are a coupon clipper or hit the sample stand, don’t leave your trash in the shopping cart when you return it to the cart corral. Instead take a minute to clean up after yourself, just like you would anywhere else.