Berkeley Bowl

I absolutely loved this article in the LA Times about the Berkeley Bowl.
Outside, petitioners seeking signatures for ballot measures have come to blows with opinionated residents. In the tiny parking lot, nicknamed the Berkeley Brawl, frustrated motorists have been known to ram one another's cars. At the checkout, people have thrown punches and unripened avocados at suspected line-cutters.

When one shopper was told she couldn't return a bag of granola, she showily dumped its contents on the floor. Culyon Garrison, who works at the customer-service desk, recently had a loaf of bread thrown at him.

The produce emporium -- one of the nation's most renowned retailers of exotic fruits and vegetables -- creates its own bad behavior. Kamikaze shoppers crash down crowded aisles without eye contact or apology for fender-benders. So many customers weren't waiting to pay before digging in that management imposed the ultimate deterrent: Those caught sampling without buying will be banned for life -- no reprieves, no excuses. (Not even "I forgot to take my medication.")


There's a sense of entitlement to this town," [store manager] Evans said. "People think, 'If I want to do it, I'll do it, just try and stop me.' "

Seven years on the job, he said, has given him insight into the city's sometimes sharp social elbows.

"Berkeley residents are angry -- they're mad at the president, the economy, all kinds of stuff. And this is the place where it seems to get released, the local supermarket."

It's funny because it's sad. It's sad because it's true.

Also in the article: Michael Pollan shops for Fruity Pebbles.


Christopher C. NC said...

My gawd! Is it like that in San Francisco grocery stores too? People here are amazingly nice and courteous.

I hear tell though and saw a touch of it today, a gas shortage in Asheville has some people a bit cranky.

chuck b. said...

Yep. People are exactly just like that everywhere here.

Anonymous said...

How funny. Like Christopher, people are super polite and nice here to everyone at the store. But I never ever bought fruity pebbles for my kids. They would think I had lost it if I bought Fruit Loops, (one time). All cereal had to have at least 2 grams of fiber. Flintstones of all genders had zero.

Anonymous said...

It's a great store, but I can't shop there - I do think the store creates its own stress. Several years back, they were crammed into a smaller space across the street and I noticed that everyone always bumps into each other, it almost seemed like the place to go to "rub elbows" with your neighbors, kind of friendly. Then when they enlarged I thought it would improve - but NO, the store replaced their small shopping carts with these mammoth carts that make it impossible to shop without bumping into others! Plus, it makes the lines seem interminably long, extending into the aisles. Very stressful! Still, there are compelling reasons to shop there, like being the only place to buy dragonfruit when you've just returned from Taiwan and have a hankering :-)

lisa said...

Heh, all they need are skates and they could call it "Berkeley Roller Derby Grocery".