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Nov 7, 2013 09:21 PM

WWCD? (What would Chowhounds do?)

OK, I feel really petty for even caring about this a week later, but here goes:

About a week ago I went to a local Mexican market which is known for good produce at great prices. It is near my office, and I often buy produce there, and am rarely disappointed.

My husband is on a gobi (cauliflower) kick lately, and had asked me to pick some up along with the other veggies. Now, I admit that I didn't look at the prices as I picked out the produce. As I said, that particular store almost always has good prices. I just bought what I wanted.

But when I went to checkout I was shocked to find that my cauliflower rang up at over six bucks. For a cauliflower?? I asked the checkout clerk to check to make sure she had hit the right key, she had. It was priced at 2.99 a pound and was slightly over 2 pounds. And no, it wasn't organic. Or one of those fancy ones that are yellow or purple. Just a plain white cauliflower. A full head, not processed florets. I asked to speak to the manager...yes, the price was right per her. (She went and checked the posted price, but didn't look it up anywhere else).

I was in a hurry, and hungry and tired, and anxious to get home and let my husband cook the damn cauliflower. so I paid and left, cursing under my breath and wondering if maybe I should shop elsewhere.

But twice since then my husband has bought cauliflower in other stores (stores that often have prices for produce that are quite higher than this favorite Mexican Market). In both cases he paid around 2 to 3 dollars PER cauliflower, not per pound. I am convinced that the cauliflower was marked with the wrong price (ie it was meant to be a per each head price and not a per pound price). But remember, the manager already told me otherwise.

Would something like this keep you from shopping at a favorite store? (of course, I will NEVER buy a cauliflower without carefully checking the price again:-) Talking to the store manager got me nowhere...should I try and figure out the owner and talk to them? Would I have had better luck if I tried complaining in Spanish (the manager's English was perfect btw). There is a part of me that wants to do a survey of cauliflower prices in the city and take it to the produce manager. Do chowhounds let things like this bug them; try to remedy it, or just move on?

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  1. You move on. They had the price correct. It's not like it was listed at .69/lb and it rang up at 2.99. It's possible they got a smaller than normal shipment, and therefore priced the available stock higher. I've seen cauliflower at the market I go to for 1.99/lb before when they normally have it for .69. I don't buy it if its over .99/lb though because the price fluctuates and I can get it some other time when it's cheaper. It's not like they deceived you - you have the option of not buying the item or buying it from a different store for cheaper.

    1. I bought a 3lb cauliflower at Trader Joe's for $2.29 today...

      That said, I agree with boogie baby that you move on. In that situation, if I wasn't willing to pay that price, I would have simply asked for the item to be removed. Pressing the point a week later after already having brought it up with the manager-- and ultimately agreeing to pay the posted price-- is neither fair nor rational. You seem to like the quality and the prices (in general) of the produce at this particular market. Are you really willing to cease shopping at a "favorite store" over $2.99?

      1. How would you handle this at your office? You have a unhappy client......... That's what I would do.

        1. $2.99 per pound is not out of line for early November. Supply is short as the coastal valleys are mostly done with harvest and there's not enough available to meet demand. Some grocers aren't stocking it now because prices are too high if you don't have grower contracts. You were lucky to get some at a small store. It will come down soon as more supply becomes available from the desert.

          1. I'm not really sure what the question or problem is here. There is no price fixing on produce, so if that was the marketed price, they double checked it, confirmed it, what's the problem?

            Actually as I think about this it's a Mexican market, cauliflower is not a traditional staple in Mexican cooking, your probably not the only gringo that goes there to scoop up their lower priced produce. I'll go on a limb and say this is gringo gouging.

            Gringo's going to come in here and take advantage of our low price's on peppers and onions, we'll get them on that cauliflower and broccoli!! BAM $2.99lbs! Sound's like smart marketing to me!

            4 Replies
            1. re: jrvedivici

              <gringo gouging>

              Thankyou very much for the update. Naive me would have never known there was such a thought.
              That cauliflower would have found a nice place to rest on the counter as I walked out the door with a smile.
              I may or may not return now that I know there's a mentality like you're describing.
              Sounds like the OP has lots of places to purchase fresh produce around him/her, with a much more watchful eye.

              1. re: jrvedivici

                I've eaten plenty of coliflor (cauliflower) in Mexico, particularly in soups and stews and sometimes in salads. Sometimes it is an ingredient in sopa seca de arroz (rice dishes) as well.

                That said, your assumption doesn't much sense even if wasn't found in Mexican cooking: This is a Mexican type market in the U.S., meaning it caters to a predominantly Hispanic/Latino market base, yes. Assuming the market is anything like the Mexican supermarkets in my area, so few non-Latinos shop there that it simply wouldn't make economic sense to up the price on certain ingredients in the hope that a few anglos would buy them. It would make more sense not to stock them. Explanations about seasonality seem much more likely (not that I'd be likely to pay $6 for a cauliflower; I'd wait till it is more readily available again, or go elsewhere if the price is that significantly different or important.

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  Oh for God's sake- I guess there are conspiracy theorists everywhere.

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    my neighborhood meximarts sell cauli and broccoli much cheaper than the supermarkets do.