Waldbaum’s parents company, A&P, has launched an integrated marketing campaign featuring President and CEO Sam Martin as its spokesperson, although that’s not at all apparent in Howard Beach where conditions at both stores remain in what many refer to as deplorable and disgusting. Ironically, the campaign “highlights the company’s vision to be the best neighborhood food and drug store by offering high-quality, localized products, enhanced services and greater value.”
But a call to The Forum office on Tuesday afternoon is more of an indicator of what’s going on in the Howard Beach world of Waldbaum’s. This time a resident of Lindenwood, who wishes to be identified only by her first name, Joan, called the newspaper to say she had found yogurt in the case while shopping the night before, on June 11, that had an expiration date of May 20.
The woman said this was not the first time she had encountered the situation and went on to express her extreme disgust. “This happens all the time. You know it’s a real shame. People can get very sick from this.” She went on to say that as a senior citizen she and many of her friends feel “victimized” in a sense because they are limited in how far they can travel to get their everyday supplies.
“They [Waldbaum’s] just don’t care about us. This is no way to treat your customers.” A trip to the store led to a full investigation of the specific containers that Joan mentioned, which was the America’s Choice brand. But upon inspection of dozens of containers, there were none on the shelf dated before June 14.
However, a further prodding of the shelves provided proof of other merchandise that was even further outdated. Against the back of the shelf, an expired four-pack of Dannon Light and Fit blueberry yogurt was at the bottom of a pile — it’s expiration date was March 25.
This is the eighth time that The Forum has been able to pay random visits to the store and within five minutes locate a product that may prove sickening to a consumer unlucky enough to ingest it.
Still there has been no response by corporate office representatives to inform the community of any types of changes that were promised by the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.
Meanwhile employee sources, who fear losing their job if they are identified, say they have heard rumors of impending staffing changes at the managerial level, however The Forum was unable to verify that information.
Note from the Publisher:
Again, a reminder that The Forum has been reporting to you on this issue for many months and we have consistently given you the proof positive that many conditions in the store do not meet with the standards that its customers deserve. I would also like to add that in all my years as publisher of this newspaper, I have never been so inundated by responses and comments from my readers.
Wherever I go people say, “Thank you so much for the great job you’re doing with Waldbaum’s” — I have to say I appreciate all the supportive words but I am terribly disappointed by the blatant disregard that we have received from the store and company officials.
We have suggested that you shop elsewhere until corporate gets the point, but we do realize that it may be much more difficult to leave the area for some people, whether because of transportation or schedules being busy.
It is immediately obvious that many of the conditions in the store exist at the management level. Failure to keep on top of staff to clean the store properly and not providing enough help to the porters and personnel that are charged with the actual clean-up are faults at the daily management level of the store. While corporate may not be sending in builders and designers to revamp the store, all the tools to clean it up and rotate and maintain the stock are at hand.
Certainly finding a product at the back of a shelf that is months old suggests that it was shuffled around and not properly monitored for rotation. These are all things that could have been remedied immediately if they were focused on properly.
It is the duty of managers to make sure that the staff is carrying out the correct procedures for the rotation of stock, cleaning the store, replenishing the shelves, cleaning the floors, and managing the produce and the meat. These duties do not depend on anything further that has to be supplied by corporate.
This newspaper hardly wants to be responsible for an individual or group of individuals losing their job. However, in the case that people don’t do their jobs the way they must be done, then they alone are the ones responsible for that loss.
The Forum remains dedicated to this cause because we see it as a very influential factor in the quality of our lives. Why do we have to spend $4 plus for a gallon of gas to travel more than 15 minutes to reach acceptable shopping?
It is outrageous that Waldbaum’s has done nothing to speak of to show they are good partners in the community.
We urge you to contact corporate and demand what is due this community.
Remind them that they requested the printing of their official statement for plans concerning the store in this newspaper—which we did. Remind them how they promised to not only clean it up but to make it the best shopping experience customers could ask for.
Please contact corporate by phone at (201) 573-9700 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please let them know that you intend to find shopping alternatives if they are not going to give consumers the respect they deserve.
By Patricia Adams