Friday, September 17, 2010

Dear Neighborhood Food Store,

Dear Neighborhood Food Store,

Looks nice. From this side.

But walk a bit closer, just before the main entrance, and glance left, into the recycling area.

Here's the view from the other end:

Not nice.

I shop here often. The aisles are wide and the prices are fair. Good selection of fresh and baked foods. Nice deli. Even a Starbucks. High-tech, too...they have several Self-Checkout stations...just scan the barcodes, swipe your card, and you're done.

They have a Blockbuster Express video vending machine.


But their recycle area is...atrocious.

It's never very clean, and the machines sometimes don't work, but tonight it was at its worst. I had to dash downtown for a couple of cans of tomato soup. It was about 5:00 PM. I parked on the side of the store nearest the recycle area and walked through it to the main entrance, and returned to my car the same way. Almost scary. Certainly repulsive.

I was halfway home when an idea struck me. And the idea grew. By the time I got home it was a definite plan. Grab the camera and dash back. Snap some pics. Go home and write about The Idea.

So, here's The Idea.

Dear Neighborhood Food Store,

Please clean up your mess.

Thank you,

A Loyal Customer

Seriously, there are at least two easy, quick, inexpensive ways to do this thing better.

First Thought: Think AARP.

Have your store manager pass the word to all the employees that the store will hire someone, perhaps a retired person who likes people (and bottles and cans) to care for the recycling area. Ask that person, the Recycle Area Technician (just made that up...pretty good, huh?) to keep the bottle caps swept up, greet the customers cheerfully, and help the customers turn their bottles and cans in. They could work part-time and set their own hours.

Tell the RAT (not sure about the acronym...might have to rethink the job title) that lunch is paid by the store. Anything from the deli or bakery, and coffee from Starbucks.

I can easily envision a couple of patio tables and chairs set out near the entrance. Print up some coupons for free coffee at Starbucks available for customers who come by. Make sure the RAT is provided free refreshments during the afternoon.

Make the Recycle Area attractive, clean and friendly.

Second Thought: Think ARC

Same setup, but hire someone from the local ARC, someone challenged with a physical or mental disability, but able to learn to work the Recycle Area.

Get creative. Get outside the box. Get moving.

Thank you.

Call me.

We'll do lunch.

Your Loyal Customer,

Milt Reynolds
Hermiston, Oregon
September 17, 2010