Saturday, April 24, 2010

Grocery Stores and Classrooms

I live in the town of Brighton, Michigan. It's not a big town but it's not small either. It's a nice place to live. We have three grocery stores: Kroger, Meijer, and VG's. I have shopped at all three with Meijer receiving most of my business due to their size and location. As of today, that's changed.

My wife, daughter (19 months), son (8 days) and I made our weekly pilgrimage to the grocery store and chose VG's because of where we happened to be in town. We walked in and my daughter was immediately excited about the car shopping carts (which are free to use, unlike Meijer). She got in and we walked through the doors and found the complimentary popcorn and coffee. Dad's good for 20 minutes and daughter is now really happy riding in the car munching on popcorn. Baby is fast asleep. Mom is happy because none of the kids are screaming.

We made our selections throughout the store proceeded to the checkout line. The clerk cheerfully greeted us and immediately offered my daughter a sucker. We declined (didn't want to pull it out of her hair later) and the clerk promptly substituted stickers which my daughter immediately began sticking all over herself (much easier to remove than the sucker). VG's still has baggers (amazing, no?) who bagged our order, loaded it up into the cart and brought it out and loaded it into our car despite the pouring rain.

There are three grocery stores in my town. Each sells essentially the same items for essentially the same price. Location is somewhat of a factor however two of the stores are right next to each other. What can the store do to distinguish themselves from their competitors? Answer: make the experience of grocery shopping as enjoyable as possible.

The added value (carts, coffee, popcorn, loading groceries) that VG's provides is incentive for customers to return. VG's makes the experience of shopping so much more enjoyable than their competitors. The extra value that VG's provides costs them next to nothing yet their return on this investment must be great. On the way home I told me wife that we're shopping at VG's from now on.

I'm an educator and everything that filters through my brain eventually gets connected to education. Todays experience is no exception.

All schools are essentially the same. They each have classrooms, textbooks, desks, students, teachers, grades, etc. What causes one school to be better than another? It is the added value that is provided by the teachers, coaches, and administrators that cause students and families to have an extraordinary experience. It's the phone call home with good news instead of bad news. It's the teacher who shows up to sporting events and performances. It's the administrator who knows each students name.

What do you do to add value to what is already expected in your classroom?


  1. John, I bagged many cart loads of groceries there back in the day. The nice thing is that sometimes people would violate policy and give you a tip when you brought the groceries out.

    After a while I got to operate the bottle machines, which was even more fun.

  2. I agree its the school or curiculum that's makes the childs learning experience great its the educators themselves that make the education stand out from others

  3. I would definitely avoid a store like VGs. I'm an introvert. Sliding in and out of a store without talking to anyone is my main goal when shopping. I see kids like that in our high school.


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