Time to go back to the employee break room, we’re in new hire training!

It was brought to my attention recently that my new hire training video articles “really get ’em going.”  More specifically, I found out that the training video for Wendy’s “Hot Drinks” has been a huge hit on Pop Culture Retrorama.  I wrote that almost five months ago, and knowing this I felt it was high time to return to the “break room” and cover a topic I not only love, but one that holds a certain amount of nostalgia with a certain audience.

Instead of fast food training, we’re going back to the grocery store.  Unfortunately, we’re not going back to Jewel to learn “Customers First,” but we are going to The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company to learn their training methods.  However, you probably know them by their more famous name – A&P.

But first, a history lesson!

A&P

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A&P – Maplewood, NJ (Image: Acme Style Blog)

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company was a grocery store chain in the United States and Canada.  Headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, the chain boasted an impressive 15,709 stores in 1930, but by in 2015, there were less than 300 stores in the United States and Canada.  Ironically enough, the chain had seen slumps throughout its life after hitting its peak. I’m serious.  I was reading about this company, and apparently, it had begun seeing problems as early as the…1950s.  Yes, that’s right – the 1950s.  It hung in there for many years, but those problems started 60 years ago!  Call it the competition, but it took them about 30 years to be competitive again.

I had no idea!

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Growing up in New Jersey, A&P (as well as rivals Pathmark and Grand Union) was a familiar face.  I know I’ve been in those stores, but I’m unsure if I’ve ever been in A&P.  When I was a teenager (and again two years ago), I read the John Updike short story about a young man working in A&P, and his observations while ringing up groceries.  It is a funny short story of a nineteen-year-old coming of age – and to an epiphany – all while working his grocery store job in 1960s America.

We move forward from stories of coming of age while bagging groceries, to 1992 America, where grocery store loss prevention is key!  You’re in new hire training, and you’re about to complete the next phase of your training…or you’re a loss prevention employee.  Either way, your goal is to…

Prevent That Shrink!

Oh, wait that…

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The sweet late 1980s-early 1990s game show music made me think different.

Anyway…

This training video was made for A&P in 1992, and employ their “Think to Prevent Shrink.”  Does it have the the punch of Jewel’s beloved Joan and Steve, and their “don’t do this!” examples?

 

I doubt there is anyone quite like them, but we shall see!

The video focuses on preventing “Shrink,” what shrink is, and examples of shrink!

So, what is…

Shrink!

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Shrink is damaged items, improper receiving, careless processing, careless stocking (putting new items in front of previously stocked items), improper product handling, careless ringing, shoplifting (and failure to report it!), internal theft.  The profit of merchandise sold is less than a penny on the dollar (less than 1%), so extra sales are needed to make up for the loss of goods due to shrink.

Says our host.

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Not sure if he actually worked for A&P or did corporate training videos, but he’s here to warn us about SHRINK! and how it impacts A&P’s operations.

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The video covers the different sections of A&P – grocery, deli/meat/seafood, produce, and front end.  The common thread is sanitation and housekeeping, but each section has its very specific requirements:

In grocery, opening packaging carefully, not leaving the price gun out, placing price tags correctly, putting misplaced items back in the correct spot, following load stacking limits in cases, putting items out in general, being alert for improperly-working refrigeration, and maintaining the back room and receiving area are discussed.

In the deli, meat, produce, and seafood areas, good housekeeping and proper sanitation is important, alert if there refrigeration is not working correctly, turn salads frequently, and seafoods should be kept moist.

On the front end, all items need to be scanned properly (don’t guess if it doesn’t scan!), bag groceries properly, check for items under the cart, and under circulars placed in the cart seat.  Proper currency and check handling is also discussed in shrink prevention.

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Like Jewel’s “Customers First” video, this training video shows examples of what not to do.  The examples aren’t nearly funny like Jewel’s training video was, but it is still informative. It is 20 minutes, but it is an informative 20 minutes on how, you – yes you! – can prevent shrink!

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According to the video’s poster, Styertowne (on a picture on Flickr), the A&P in this video (which the poster obtained at a A&P Headquarter Auction) was Store #072 on North Main Street in Killingly (Windham County), Connecticut.  This location closed in 2006, and was demolished in 2012 to make way for Kohl’s.  The Kohl’s is still there today.

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A&P in Killingly, CT (2009) Image: Flickr (Styertowne)

As for A&P, after emerging from bankruptcy in 2012, the chain was forced back into Chapter 11 in 2015 after unsuccessfully securing a buyer.  The company saw decline as early as the 1950s, but by the 1980s, had turned its fortunes around.  However, competition from larger chains, as well as the buying of rival Pathmark in 2007, was the beginning of the end for the chain.

The competition in the 1950s couldn’t take down A&P, but 2015 bankruptcy and acquiring a dying grocery chain could.

I’m sure not following the instructions on this video wasn’t the reason A&P went downhill.

 

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