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Categories Commerce and products

A new sign has appeared in the Tienda Inglesa parking lot in Atlántida.

Shopping cart sign at Tienda Inglesa, Atlántida, Uruguay

In a northern setting, it wouldn’t merit a second glance (except for being in Spanish: ”Thanks for leaving your shopping cart here.”)

However, as I joked to the employee in the parking lot, you can tell the new owners are American.

Klaff Realty, LP, owners of the Safeway and Albertson’s supermarket chains in north America, bought Tienda Inglesa’s 10 stores in March for $120 million. The shift has been subtle but palpable: aisles opening up, less innacessible merchandise cluttering the tops of shelf units.

And now this — thanking customers for not simply abandoning their shopping cart anywhere in the crowded parking lot (often requiring the next person to move it before being able to park).. Wow! Efficiency! Innovation! Think of what could happen next.

Maybe they’ll instruct employees not to block entire aisles with shopping carts as they stock shelves during the busiest periods? Nah, unlikely.

Or teach cashiers that their little bar, referred to up north as a “separator” or “divider,” and sometimes saying “Next Customer,” has a function other than breaking the photo-electric beam that makes the conveyor belt move? Seriously, as we started to unload our shopping cart onto the Tienda Inglesa conveyor belt today, my wife reached for the divider to separate our groceries from the previous customer’s. The grumpy cashier actually grabbed it and put it back, insisting that its function was to turn the conveyor belt on and off.

Perhaps I should take a felt marker and start writing on them ”Próximo Cliente,” No, they’d probably consider that vandalism.

I do, however, find some inspiration in the gringo who got so tired of Montevideo restaurants listing unavailable menu items that he started carrying a Sharpie marker, and crossing them off the menu with indelible ink as they were announced nonexistent by the waiter. So wrong it’s just right!

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