I shop at Waitrose because ____________

Perhaps it was inevitable that almost everyone would take the piss.

It’s what we do isn’t it?  Twitter is a little bit like a comedy club with everyone vying to be the funniest standup.  Who actually believes that Orlando was asked to put the Papaya down?  It sounds like a carefully crafted line to me, as do most of the other responses, which made me laugh.  Did anyone at all give a serious reply?

I do actually shop at Waitrose sometimes.  There’s no getting away from the fact that Waitrose is nicer than the other supermarkets, as supermarkets go.  The aisles are wider, the lighting slightly less gloomily industrial, the products generally arranged attractively.  Taking prices out of the equation, actually taking everything out of the equation, I’d choose it over Tescos any day.  But then I’d also choose shopping at our local market over any supermarket, and that’s definitely not a cheap choice.

So why didn’t I say any of those things in response to their tweet?  Because I didn’t want to be laughed at.  Waitrose is very safe, very middle England, very middle class, and for some reason that’s not a good thing.  Despite the beautiful glossy adverts, it’s a bit Hyacinth Bouquet.

It’s not the done thing to talk about money in this country.  Especially having it.  There’s a sort of inverse snobbery; It’s OK to talk about being strapped for cash and shopping at Lidl, but not quite as OK to talk about having enough to be profligate.  And during a recession, shopping at Waitrose counts as profligacy.

It’s not the done thing to be flashy either, to show off what you’ve got, not that Waitrose could ever be described as flashy, but I guess it could be described as aspirational.  I hate that word, I think it has negative connotations, as if wanting more or better is a bad thing.  And I know that stuff doesn’t make you happy, but let’s leave that aside for now and admit that all humans want more.

I think it’s a class thing.  I know we’re not supposed to take any notice of these things any more, but they’re still there, somewhere.  An old, deep seated suspicion of anyone who wants to move outside the strict band proscribed by centuries of village life.  The world is entirely different now to the days when you could or couldn’t read, had your own strip of land or didn’t.  But there’s something that lingers in our DNA, that makes us aware of it like an itch on our skin.  If you get more, then show it off, you’re a traitor.  If you always had more, and you lord it over us, then we hate you.  If you never had enough, you’re one of us.  We all want to be one of us, whether we are or not.

So we poke fun at things that don’t fit into the one of us image.  We feel uncomfortable identifying with something that markets itself as aspirational.  Maybe that makes us kind people, who are deeply aware of the feelings of others.  Or maybe we’re just scared of being laughed at.

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16 comments
  1. I think you’re spot on, which is a shame. I like Waitrose for many reasons, not least because I enjoy their food options. The answer I gave though was that their better lighting means my soon with Asperger’s Syndrome doesn’t get just as worked up which makes for a calmer shopping experience.

    It’s a shame that people felt the need to mock though. I agree that it definitely says more about us than Waitrose.

    • Victoria said:

      That’s a very good reason! I knew their lighting was nicer.

  2. Donnaclark4 said:

    I so agree. I also think there is age in there somewhere. We were skint at 30 having bought a flat at interest rates of 8% and having our first child I stopped work. I wouldn’t have dreamed of shopping at waitrose. Now that baby is 14 I have been back at work several years things are different. My colleagues who are around 30 and still at the skint stage make fun of my “middle class problems” not realising they are better dressed and better fed than I was at the same age. It will be them shopping in Waitrose one day!

    • Victoria said:

      So we’re middle class and middle aged!

  3. Waitrose is WICKED!! I shop there because I have a partnership card and I get points. When the money off vouchers arrive I get to buy nice stuff like a decent bottle of Sancerre….because I’m blimmin’ worth it! I like shopping in Waitrose for all the reasons you do plus it’s not a scrum and the staff are lovely. I use their online shop because they’re reliable and if it does go wrong (rare) a quick email/phone call sorts it. The prices are so similar to the other supermarkets that it’s not worth the bother and their Essential range is good. Their policies on recycling and packaging work for me.
    As for aspirational – what the FUDGESTICK is wrong with that?? I’ve lived on this earth too TOO long (half a century!) to suffer poor service and eat sub standard. Life is too short and too fleeting to worry about whether others think I’m posh or above my station because of where I buy my food? Please.
    Whilst I can, I will.
    Do your thang, girl.
    Love you long time. K x

    • Victoria said:

      Love you too!

  4. I shop at Waitrose because… compared to all the other supermarkets their meat and other fresh produce is far superior. I’m sick of buying substandard rubbish at Tesco. They have great customer service and the checkout staff are always pleasant. The whole experience is better – never have to fight to park, the stores are spacious so you can get around without having to ram people with your trolley and I rarely queue at the checkout. It’s a calmer experience and makes an unpleasant task more palatable, especially with the children in tow.

    And I mainly shop at Waitrose because…it’s my closest supermarket! So there.

    • Victoria said:

      It’s my closest supermarket too, thought I generally get online deliveries. I like the fact that the staff own it too.

  5. I love the place but also loved this tweet as, of course, there are bound to be some funny answers out there. The funniest I read was ‘because where else would you hear a dad shouting “Put the papaya down Orlando!”
    Waitrose has good food, the staff are excellent and they do it right, in my book. Of course I do also shop in other supermarkets as I have no real loyalty to one over another but what Waitrose do right, others should copy.

    • Victoria said:

      I loved the tweet too, but everyone’s response to it really got me thinking about why we are so defensive about these things.

  6. Lindy said:

    I shop wherever I can get a bit of a bargain w/out going out of my way. I firstly shop at my local independent shops (greengrocer, fishmonger and butcher), then I shop at QualitySave (also on my high street), then I head to Morrisons. I also shop at Waitrose but only for special occasion things. I refuse to spend £2 for 350g of green beans when I can get 500g for £1 at Morrisons. We’re not skint but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to fritter away my ££ for wider isles and smaller queues. I’ll save my pennies for something special. If that makes me a poor excuse for a middle class family then so be it! No judgement here just can’t figure out why people worry so much about where other people shop. I am beyond pleased that people can shop at Waitrose. I’m also beyond pleased that there are other options out there if you want to save a penny or two.

    • Victoria said:

      I tend to do what you do, I don’t only shop there, I shop all over the place. I guess the reason I blogged about it was I couldn’t work out why it was such an issue either, and it got me thinking.

  7. Waitrose is Middle England. Would you believe that there isn’t a Waitrose in the Middle England stronghold of Royal Tunbridge Wells? Occasionally I hear rumours that Waitrose is coming to town, but Morrisons is the latest supermarket to move in. Shopping in Waitrose is just so damned civilised.

  8. Helloitsgemma said:

    I bloody love Waitrose. Richard Hawley shops in my local one. I cant afford it regularly. I’m more a sainsburys regular. Someone gave me a Netto bag They thought they were being funny and I was (in their view) too snobby to use it. I don’t go in Netto because a lot of the food doesn’t appeal. That’s all. I used the bag. It’s only a bloody bag. They are only bloody supermarkets. Not sure why people get so hung up on it. But they do. Am ruling now.

    • Helloitsgemma said:

      That should be rambling not ruling. Obvs.

      • Victoria said:

        Your rambly bit was my point really, they’re only bloody supermarkets, but people DO get really hung up about them. It’s weird and a bit bonkers.

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