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Have you ever not bought local because of merchant's attitude

  • r

I wonder why some local merchants and local farmers markets sellers feel that they are the only game in town.

I have cut off my nose to spite my face in several instances, but actually have found better elsewhere.

Any similar experiences?

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  1. At one particular local market, I stopped buying from one particula farmer because of the way he treated a Hispanic man who was in front of me in line.
    At this market, several stalls take WIC etc.... and this gentleman asked the farmer if he took these coupons. The farmer patronized him and said something like "no, you see, that requires that we take a class on Friday and of course, we're here on Friday, so we can't"
    What a load of BS!!
    I feel strongly that markets should have at least some producers who take assistance. Farmers Markets should be accessible to all income levels, not all boutique and pricey.
    Other than that, for the most part, I've never encountered a truly bad attitude.

    8 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      This happened to me several years ago. I jokingly said to a woman seller who I had bought from every week the berries were available for a few years; and everytime I bought from her I had told her that her berries were the best I'd ever had. I felt like I was on a good standing and friendly with her. One week her berries had many worms and I mentioned to her that they did. In unfriendly terms, she said that if I didn't like her berries, I could go elsewhere - Whut?? I do miss those berries, though.

      1. re: Rella

        I'd take up that b*tches offer!!

      2. re: monavano

        Hmmm. I wasn't there so I have no context for his comments, but I don't know that his response was BS. Where I live, Virginia, only vendors from bordering states can accept assistance coupons. That means many vendors, from Pennsylvania, quite close but with a small part of MD in between, can't. I wouldn't be surprised that other states require vendors to take a training class at a very inconvenient time. But I'll take your word that he was patronizing and I agree that markets should be accessible and affordable to all.

        1. re: BrianD

          He was from VA, and if other vendors, also selling on Friday, can do it, why can't he?
          That was my take.

          1. re: monavano

            Got it. That makes perfect sense.

            1. re: BrianD

              And, it's not without some serious consideration.... he had the best corn, darn it!!

              1. re: monavano

                Sorry to hear that, but when one is selling something, they need to offer respect to the buyer. You are there to purchase, and not to be abused. They produce, and you buy. What's not to get?


        2. re: monavano

          Wow, snobbery would definitely put me off. If more markets accepted WIC and other forms of assistance, there would be a lot less obesity and fewer health problems, which could ultimately lower all our taxes, so even if merchants don't think they have a moral reason to treat everyone with respect, they certainly have a monetary reason to.

        3. The first time I visited a particular cheese vendor at the Union Square Green Market, I asked for a half-pound. The vendor cut me a piece she said was "a little over," and it wasn't until I got home and weighed it myself that I realized I'd been charged for nearly a full pound, and what I got was a shade over a half. The second time I visited her stand, she tried the same trick. I said I really wanted a half-pound. No more. She refused to either shave down the piece she'd already cut, or cut me a new piece. I have not been back.

          16 Replies
          1. re: small h

            wow, I wonder if you could report her to management.

            1. re: monavano

              It would be my word against hers. And she could easily claim that my home scale is wrong. Also, the cheese is gone, 'cause I ate it. I filed the incident under "live & learn" and went back to buying from Cato Corner.

              1. re: small h

                Vote with your wallet!
                (I just wonder if there had been other complaints lodged because if she's ripping you off, she's ripping others off. She acted guilty)

                1. re: monavano

                  I have. And I realize I have shirked my civic duty in not pursuing the matter. I'm just not a natural activist.

                2. re: small h

                  Ah, scales! I found when first ordering from a national well-rated online food site, that about 6+/- of my similar weighed items in a cellophane bag were slighted. (Of course, I weighed with and without the cellophane.) I've not ordered since, but have found alternate sites for these similar products. Such a disappointment. I have no stomach for correcting or complaining over this type of error to a company that I will order from only once or twice a year.

                  I wonder how many people actually weigh their products.

                  On the other hand, I DO actually remember all of those wonderful vendors who for instance give me a bucket of peppers for a buck or so. Their motive, no matter, they must know I like their product and are waiting to give a person who likes it a real treat!

                  1. re: Rella

                    Well, here's a happier scale story: I went into Whole Foods to buy one (1) jalapeno pepper. The cashier put it on the scale, said "It's too light to even register," and handed it over. Free jalapeno! Whoo hoo!

                    1. re: small h

                      They are going to have to have a meeting about this, they need more sensitive scales -- looking into purchasing some from the USPS. :-))

                      1. re: small h

                        Stuff like that happens to me a lot at Whole Foods. I know they get a bad rap on these boards sometimes, but I've had more positive experiences than negative ones, and I shop at three different WF stores.

                        1. re: Isolda

                          Me too, actually. Twice now, I've picked up produce that the WF cashier didn't recognize, so rather than figuring out the proper code for it (even when I told them the name of the fruit or veggie in question as well as the price), they've just put it in my bag and not charged me.

                          1. re: Isolda

                            I could have written your post. Right down to the three Whole Foods stores. Although I am rarely willing to pay WF prices for produce ($3 for an artichoke!), they charge less for my preferred brands of milk and yogurt and beer than my local ghetto supermarket, and less for coffee and cheese than my local indoor vendor-plex. Plus, rice & beans & chickpeas in bulk, cheap canned tomatoes and cheap canned tuna and cheap peanut butter, along with good line management and (usually) pleasant staff. I have never understood the WF hate. Appropriate caution, sure. But the hate seems knee-jerk to me.

                            Apologies for the thread hijack.

                  2. re: small h

                    the walls of some cathedrals in europe are inscribed with circles that showed how big a loaf of bread should be, and I'm told that on market days they had scales to check weights as well. Maybe you suggest to the marketplace that they provide scales so customers can check their purchases while still on the premises.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      The cheese vendor had a scale, but I wasn't suspicious enough (the first time) to watch her weigh the cheese. Also, it was a hot day, and my brain works slowly on hot days. Perhaps I'll take it upon myself to walk around the market with a balance scale like Lady Justice, providing free weight confirmations to all and sundry.

                    2. re: small h

                      Oh, that is not right. One MUST be honest in business, or it will bite them.


                      1. re: small h

                        there will be an agency somewhere in the state responsible for putting a sticker on her scale to verify it's accuracy. Find it and report her.

                        1. re: applgrl

                          Somewhere in the state? It's New York State, which is a pretty good size, so it might take me a while to find this mysterious agency. For all I know, it could be in one of my closets, behind the ski pants.

                          However, I may cruise by the greenmarket management booth next time I'm there and strike up a conversation. For the good of all!

                          1. re: small h

                            In most states you can google for the state's weights and measures program. Feel free to call and make a complaint! http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/wm/wmins...

                      2. Absolutely. There is one farmer/vendor at my local market that is just plain mean. She's rude and unpleasant, among a group of farmers who are otherwise polite and a joy to be around. I will not buy from her. For a long time she was the only person at the market who sold asparagus. I would buy one bunch each spring to satisfy the seasonal craving. Fortunately some other farmers caught on to the seasonal magic, and I have other options.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mpjmph

                          Where there is a void, it is up to others to step up and fill it.

                          Glad that you found other suppliers.


                        2. Well, I did buy some very expensive cukes from a stand the other weekend and had my damn ear talked off by the merchant - about his mother in law, and how she loves to work the farm, and how I should go to his website to read about how inspiring she is, and then with the platitudes about optimism, and even a handout about being optimistic, no less. Just this wall of loud, nasal, carnival barker jabber for what must have been 4 or 5 minutes straight, when all I wanted to do was pay.

                          I'll probably buy my cukes elsewhere next time. To me, it's just as tiresome being preached at about optimism as morals.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                            That, and if it's 90+ humid degrees out, I'm sprinting around the stalls. No time to chat!

                          2. Not sure if this counts, but I once emailed a local producer who shall remain nameless, asking if they might have samples I could feature on my blog. I received such a patronizing and rude response email that I cannot bring myself to buy their products, even though I was a huge fan in the past. Total buzzkill!

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: operagirl

                              hmmmm....I had a food blog for 2 years and although I was offered products to try, I would never ask for freebies. Just getting freebies made me itch.
                              The response sounds rude, you're right.

                              1. re: monavano

                                You make a good point. When doing a review, if there are contributed aspects, then there could be elements of suspicion.

                                Same when reviewing a restaurant. If the reviewer is getting comp'ed, how unbiased will they be?

                                When I review a restaurant, a wine, or a resort, I will have paid full price for each, without discounts, or freebies. Should I become a "regular," I will usually refrain from reviewing, as I could well be receiving special treatment.

                                Good comments, and well-worth consideration.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Indeed, it is suspicious to review things that were obtained for free. I can't imagine being in a reviewing position and asking for freebies.

                                  1. re: purple bot

                                    Like I said, would never ask, but I did disclose the freebie and gave an honest opinion, in anrice way as to give constructive criticism.
                                    For example, I got free potted herbs from a company, but I just didn't get the value of getting them planted in soil, since I would pretty much use up the lot in one fell swoop. It makes far more sense to get a bunch of fresh cut herbs, wash them, dry them and store in the refrigerator vs. on my counter.
                                    And, I said so. What are 'ya gonna do?!

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      Sorry, monavano, my comment was directed to operagirl, not you. It can get confusing here!

                                      1. re: purple bot

                                        Ah, what the heck...threw in my .02 anyways!!

                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                    Sort of off-point,
                                    Have some restaurants retaliated in some way because of a bad review, if you know. I wonder if there is a fine line not to cross. Of course, if it is favorable, no matter to them.

                                    1. re: Rella

                                      You're hoping you don't get "special sauce" in the meal the next time you go!

                                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                                      Agreed. It's hard to be brutally yet gently honest when you're invested in some way, shape or form. Conversely, I think you have to bridle yourself in singing praises, lest you come across as a sycophant.
                                      My approach mirrors yours.

                                  3. re: operagirl

                                    Voting with your wallet is the best way to go, although since you also operate a blog, you should tell all and let your followers get the chance to vote with their wallets as well. If the local producer doesn't want free (positive) adverising, give them plenty of free NEGATIVE advertising.

                                    On another note, while shoppiing for something non-food related, but extremely expensive, I was given horrible service by the vendor at a local store (who after a small amount of discussion new we were local). I promptly left the store and gave my business to someone else.

                                  4. Farmers market in Boston many years ago, cucumber were 3 for $1 and I made the mistake of picking out the 3 cucumbers I wanted to purchase. Vendor says "what do you think this is, stop and shop (local supermarket)? Long story short, I end up getting 3 much smaller inferior cukes he had behind the good ones........still mad to this day I didnt tell him to take his tiny cuke and shove it!

                                    1. Most responses here concern farmers' markets. However, there is another dimension: small store owners in enclaves where "outsider" customers are distrusted or not well understood because language or cultural differences. (And this goes beyond Chinatowns in various cities.) I recall many years ago walking into a store that specialized in Swedish foods in Seattle (Ballard) and being (barely) waited on with a weird mixture of fear and disdain...I never figured out why...and I never returned...Still, when it comes to shopkeepers doing their own thing and selling hard to duplicate kinds of foods, they deserve support and patience.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: penthouse pup

                                        I've seen this very thing.

                                        On the other side of the coin, there is a town in CT, New Britain, I think, that has fantastic Polish meats. I was astounded that there were few English speaking servers behind the counter, and there were many to take care of their thriving business.

                                        A customer seeing that we didn't speak their language helped us through the buying of sausage. Me-oh-my, the friendliness abound, I thought I had gone to a great party!

                                        I see by my pictures that I was there June 22, 2006, and I still remember it well.

                                        1. re: Rella

                                          That is the way that it should be. Recently in Rome, neither of us spoke Italian, though I know Spanish, and wife took Latin in high school, the merchants were wonderful. A few points, some Romance Language words, and all was great. They wanted us to enjoy, and we all did.


                                      2. Yes, and not just with food items.

                                        Attitude is important to me, and I have walked from many, because of it.

                                        I am from the Deep South, where gentlemen are, and ladies are also.

                                        If I am spending my $, I want a good attitude. If you have not set your prices high enough to survive, that is NOT my issue, and I am not responsible for poor business practices, that you have embraced. That is between you, and you accountant.

                                        If you chef quit, that is not my problem. Same for your head server. If you cannot manage people, then hire people, who can.

                                        If you give me an attitude - then I walk, and vote with my AMEX card

                                        Though not directly food related (know that CH MOD's do not like this), we had reservations for about 18 stays at a particular SF hotel. My wife joined their top tier group, and was then spit upon (in a figurative way), so we just canceled all upcoming trips and booked two blocks away. I'd say that they quickly lost about US$ 8 - 10K. That was a shame, as they DO have a great restaurant, and we love it. Considering our meals there, the total probably gets up near US $ 20K with wines. Hey, too bad. Attitude, and we walk. No "Soup Nazis" for us, as there are folk, standing in line to provide great food, service, and zero attitude.

                                        Just the way that I look at it.


                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          As some of you know; I go to great lengths to build relationships with small local growers/farmers/producers of farm products that are organic and/or naturally raised with a minimum of handling and processing. This includes veg. fruits, eggs, pork,beef and poultry. I have become good friends with many of these small biz owners; but I have to say, in my opinion there is a higher percentage of those that are "out there" than one finds in other pursuits. Some are just plain whacky, IMHO. Like the lady who raises fruit trees for sale without any pesticides, and fertilizers that are not readily found naturally. One day she mentioned to me, "Why are you poisoning yourself?" WHAT?? she then explained that by wearing other than white/tan or earth tone colors in my shirts, I was welcoming dangerous positive ions into my body.........Now every time I visit her nursery I make sure, yup, you guessed it, I wear Earth tone clothes. She is a very talented practical Botonist and has taught me how to graft plants that I was sure could not be grafted to disease resistant root stocks. Then there is my pastured beef and pork guy who says in a gruff manner "I will tell you when you can buy!!" He is basically trying to say when the steer or pigis ready to slaughter, I will let you know. His beef and pork is beyond comparison in taste, and he raises all of his meat animals with profound respect for them and what they are providing.
                                          THe "Egg Lady" is a true backwoods storehouse of Foxfire home cures......Too long of a story for now!!!!LOL
                                          These are all good people, just.....different.........

                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                            Was your botanist lady wearing a tin foil hat, per chance?
                                            Just kidding!
                                            We all have our quirks.
                                            I wore a pink top the the market this morning and no one noticed....

                                            1. re: monavano

                                              Momavano, No,,,,lol But she usually has a very baggy,very old very faded, t-shirt on and no other, umm,...articles of clothing, underneath....I think she is in her late 70s to early 80s.

                                            2. re: ospreycove

                                              you don't have to be crazy to be a good farmer, but it helps.......

                                          2. It works both ways, but I never condone any vendor being rude or ignorant. You have to be polite at the till if you want repeat business.

                                            I sold 40# of Gala apples to a friend's dad, hand picked by me, no blemishes, all huge, and he squawked to no end about paying $10 for the box. I was doing him a favour because of my friend, but after that day I don't reduce my price for anyone. I work incredibly hard to produce an awesome product and when people act like they should get it for free........it's hard to bite my tongue.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: applgrl

                                              you story is apples and oranges to the op's