Friday, March 4, 2011

A little grocery jargon...

the incomparable u-boat

Most professions have their own jargon and grocery is no exception. So, with the weekend in sight, I thought I'd share a few terms that will likely never come in handy in real life, but will have expanded your vocabulary by ten. Not bad, eh!
  1. U-boat: I've never seen The Grocer as excited as the day he purchased one of these. While I didn't initially understand the jubilation, I soon learned that a u-boat can haul hundreds of pounds of freight; slip in and out of aisles with ease; and corner like a ballroom dancer.   
  2. Disco'd: This happens often in the world of grocery, and, unfortunately, it has nothing to do with Saturday Night Fever. When you see a customer throw their hands up in disgust – their favorite item has likely been 'disco'd' (that's discontinued to you and me). 
  3. Shippers: Nothing nautical or sea-related; in grocery, 'shippers' are the fun little cardboard displays of special buys that dot a grocery store's aisles. 
  4. In-and-Outs: A close cousin of the shipper – 'in-and-outs' are just what they sound like, they're items brought in and sold through, not to be re-ordered. 
  5. Turns: The economy of the grocery store lives and dies on 'turns'. Turns equal sales, and grocers judge what to carry and how much based on turns. Basically, if you can't turn an item, it's not worth the space on the shelf. 
  6. Coffin Case: Creepy name? I think so, too. At our market, we actually don't have a true 'coffin case', but you used to see the long open cases in the freezer section of supermarkets. They've largely been replaced by uprights. 
  7. The Boneyard: Again, what's with the death references? Every market large or small has some type of 'boneyard'. It's pretty much like a giant junk drawer room containing all the bits and pieces of displays, shelving, and equipment that you “just know” you might use again. And, just like at home, you can never find what you need...that is, until you get rid of it. 
  8. Shrink: In a nutshell, at the market, 'shrink' refers to loss – it's the out-of-date items; the broken, damaged or torn; basically, it's the stuff you've paid for but can't sell. A grocer with too much shrink will need a shrink to deal with the stress of an unprofitable store. 
  9. Waterfall: No Multnomah, no Niagara, no Snoqualmie; at the market a 'waterfall' is a cascading display (often produce) that appears to tumble over the edge of the case. Not as picturesque as the watery version, but enjoyable nonetheless. 
  10. Dummy-Up: No relation to 'Cowboy-Up' or 'Man-Up'; in grocery, 'dummy-up' is a smoke-and-mirrors technique used to take a small amount of product and create a display that looks like a large amount of product. The Grocer employs this method frequently in the produce department when, for example, he builds a display of apples around a dummy'd-up center.
So, what does all this mean?

Well, if one day you come by the market and see The Grocer pushing the u-boat stacked high with shippers of in-and-outs and slow-turning disco'd goods and he rounds the corner and catches on the coffin case and knocks over the dummy'd-up display of apples that in turn collapses the waterfall of oranges...he will certainly find himself dealing with an overabundance of shrink and a plethora of bits and pieces of who-knows-what destined for the boneyard.

Believe me when I say...stranger things have happened.

Happy Weekend!
-The Grocer's Wife