Pamela Riemenschneider, Aisle Wandering
Pamela Riemenschneider, Aisle Wandering

AUSTIN, Texas — I squealed out loud when I was perusing my Sunday paper’s ads this week.

I usually take a look at the Walgreens and CVS fliers, thinking one day I’ll actually try being one of those coupon geniuses who gets shampoo for free.

But this time, I saw produce.

And as far as I knew, Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreen Co. hadn’t brought produce to the Austin market yet.

I’d been pondering a trip out West to see some of their San Francisco stores featuring modest selections of produce, but hadn’t gotten it in my schedule yet.

But here they were, fresh apples on ad at Walgreens. A small part of me wondered why there wasn’t more marketing hoopla surrounding this introduction.

The next day, I drove around and hit up a couple of stores. Nope. No produce.

I was a little more determined on my second outing, eventually finding the apples in question at the fifth store I tried, in North Austin, Texas.

What a letdown.

Produce left bereft in the drugstoreI nearly missed them, and probably had missed them at another store I visited. I found a stand-up display of coconut water with five 2-pound bags of beat-up apples on top, selling for $1.99.

At least they were fuji and not red delicious.

Letdown

This is more like what I expected to find at Dollar General Market — a feeble attempt at putting some fresh on the shelves.

Where Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General surprised me, Walgreens sorely disappointed.

By the way, the cooler at all five stores I visited was well-stocked with milk, butter, margarine, eggs, bacon and yogurt, but there looked to be plenty of room to squeeze in some easy solutions like pre-made salads, sliced apples or any other type of fresh produce snacks that don’t require a whole lot of maintenance.

There were more than enough employees on duty at these stores. I nearly bumped into staffers standing in the aisles at almost every location I visited.

If you’re going to put fresh on the shelves, just go for it. Don’t do it halfway.

To console myself, I hit up the newest location of Whole Foods Market Inc., which opened May 16 in the West Austin suburb of Bee Cave.

You’d think the hometown of Whole Foods would be lousy with the stores, but the company hasn’t added a new location, other than newly built relocations of the two existing stores, since the 1980s.

Check out my blog for a photo tour from a very busy, post-grand-opening lunch hour visit here.

pamelar@thepacker.com

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