Apples: $5.98, or $6.48?

Over the weekend at the supermarket: I was suspicious of this (which is why I took the photo).

Would these Pink Lady apples be $5.98, or $6.48 per kilogram? (The Granny Smiths to the left were a different price again.)

Apples - how much?

Come the checkout, sure enough… the higher price. Was I ripped-off?

Self-serve checkout

If I had the time and energy, I’d have asked. Perhaps I’ll ask next time if the contradictory signs are still up. It’s only 50 cents, but I think it’s misleading.

I’m not sure where it’ll go in the long run in terms of job numbers, but I’ve come to love the self-serve checkouts. (They came to our area about five years ago.)

I’d never use them if I had lots and lots of stuff, because skilled staff members are faster, but I tend to buy items in dribs and drabs, typically $10-$20 of groceries, but never more than about $40 — in part because there’s a supermarket right next to the railway station so it’s very convenient to buy things on my way home. And unless there’s a long queue, I prefer to be able to pack my items the way I like them for the walk home.

Plus it avoids the dropping of the apples into the bag with a bruising thump, which I have seen occasionally from the human checkout staff.

Amusingly, the self-serve checkouts include a picture of a type of cloth green bag no longer sold — Aldi and Woolworths now sell thick plastic ones instead, though my cloth green bags (perhaps a decade old, perhaps more), live on. Which was the point, wasn’t it.

Update: Typo — thanks Roger!

Belt up: Stockade Leather

A shout-out to a good shop which doesn’t have a web site of its own:

About once every decade I buy a belt.

They last that long — I get them from a place in Elsternwick called Stockdale Stockade Leather (552 Glen Huntly Road), which I’m amazed is still in business because their stuff is so resilient — they must get a lot of repeat business.

Stockade Leather, Elsternwick

It looks rather like their belts are made in the shop — the front section is where they’re displayed, and further back it looks more like a workshop than a shop.

I went in today for a couple of belts. I don’t remember how much they cost last time, but now they’re $45, which is not unreasonable for quality that lasts. Another customer was in there praising their belts too.

I hope they’re still around in a decade when I need another.

Update 31/8/2014: I’ve somehow been getting this shop’s name wrong for years, thinking it was Stockdale not Stockade… and therefore not finding its web site. It does have one.

January Calendar shopping – some good ones left if you hunt around a bit

It’s about this time of year that I often go calendar shopping.

I generally like to have a calendar hanging in the kitchen, and another in the toilet.

Sometimes I’ll get given them at Christmas, of course — for last year I was given two excellent ones — the Melbourne Train Station calendar, and another of old London travel posters.

They’ve been great, but with the new year, I now have to say goodbye to them.

Able & Game: Melbourne train station calendar 2013London travel poster calendar 2013

This year, alas, I was given none.

And sometimes I’ll have the Leunig calendar from The Age. But these days they don’t just give it to you for free with the paper in early December — no. With mainstream media scrounging for revenue, they make you traipse down to the newsagent and give them a few extra dollars for it. Which I didn’t do.

I reckon when buying calendars for yourself, it’s better to go shopping after Christmas, when they’re discounted. Sure, the later you leave it, the more the risk you’ll have to hunt around to find anything good, but at least you won’t be paying $20 or $25 for the equivalent of a 12-page book.

Calendar discounts

So, at Chadstone on Tuesday I found the newsagent had some for half price. Others, including one on street art, had been marked down from $20 to $13, then to half of that. $6.50. Sold.

Then yesterday we were at Southland. There was a calendar shop set up in one area (if one were trendy you’d call it a Pop Up Shop, but it’s been popping up there for decades at this time of year). They had everything for 40% off, and a few good ones.

But at Myer I found them for 75% off. Not many good ones in their stash, but the Monty Python one looked good. $6.25. Sold.

I guess the travel/transport theme has been abandoned for the next twelve months… maybe I’ll swing back to it next year!

All the self-serve checkouts are down, down

It was like a trip back in time to… last year. All the self-serve checkouts in Woolies were down tonight.

All self serve checkouts down, down

A long queue at the express checkouts… surprisingly not at the other checkouts (all credit to management, they did have five non-express checkouts open at one time — rarely seen nowadays).

Perhaps the earthquake is to blame. Perhaps not.

If Myer went totally online, would the Christmas Windows turn into a web site?

Myer will close stores in Victoria and New South Wales and shrink surviving stores in response to the two-speed economy and online shopping.

Myer to close or shrink stores as retail malaise bites

Remembering that Myer Melbourne has already shrunk in size by about half, this isn’t a huge surprise. Sounds like some of the smaller stores will be closed.

Myer Christmas windows

I can’t see it happening, but I suppose if Myer went totally online, the Christmas Windows would be transitioned into a web site. Some kind of Flash animation, a Youtube clip or a Flickr slideshow?

I like shopping in person, seeing things up close, and the instant gratification of avoiding delivery times. But I also like online shopping — the flexibility of hours, the wide variety of products, and the generally better prices. This year my Christmas shopping has been a mix of both.

The Bourke Street Mall has been packed this week, especially from lunchtime onwards. It’ll be interesting to see how the retailers have gone this Christmas.