For anyone tempted to try the new “10Box” food store, my review is: “Don’t.”
I’m going to get some flak for this satirical review, so cut me some slack. You’ll have to decide just how much levity and tongue-in-cheek I’m applying to my words.
Springdale recently lost its PriceCutter grocery store, after we collectively realized the place had lost its soul several years ago. Over a year ago, I wrote a story about entering PriceCutter as dusk neared, in search of a pecan pie. In all honesty and without satire, I still remember the strange angst and melancholy that visit bestowed upon me.
10Box took the zombieland of PriceCutter and managed to make something equally weird. Don’t be mistaken, though, Harp’s Foods owns this new incarnation. I think it will do quite well, but for none of the reasons that the management believes to be the case. There are certain aspects of retail grocery which Harp’s excels at, especially when using stores such as the one on Gutensohn Street in Springdale as the comparison. None of the things I love about Harp’s Food Stores seem to be involved with this new business model, however. It is the NASCAR of gourmet foods.
If you have ever wondered what suffering from agoraphobia feels like, combined with the glee of being trampled by crazed shoppers training for pre-Xmas layaway triathlons, this emporium is for you. I went in the early afternoon during a weekday, not expecting to be hurled into the midst of the equivalent of a crumpled map, written in Korean and interpreted by a yodeler. If you want the full experience, I would recommend that you visit on a Saturday, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. It helps if you come when you haven’t slept or grabbed your first cup of coffee yet. If you have a concealed-carry permit, believe me, you will want to leave any weapons at home.
Shopping at 10Box was like waiting my turn at an intersection, except all the other drivers are told to ignore all normal social norms as they careen around the interior of the store. (And they get bonus points for filling their carts via the most erratic shopping routes possible once they are inside the store.)
Before I forget, all the workers wear purple shirts. You’ll never guess which color I had on after work today? Yes, that’s right. I’m accustomed to fielding questions from shoppers at other stores, especially Wal-Mart, but several of the patrons almost hurled themselves at me, begging me for any general information they could gather regarding an alleged 85-lb. roll of turkey sausage. I shared a couple of laughs with people, as they realized I didn’t work there. I still offered to help them find whatever item they were searching for, though. I’m not a total barbarian.
The gimmick with 10Box, other than the fact that you feel like you might actually stumble upon Rick and Michonne from “The Walking Dead” just around any aisle, is that the items in the store are already priced at cost, with a 10% unilateral charge added to all items at the register. This system is pure genius. As you all know, it is surprising how many people can’t do fractions easily. At some point, some people simply start weeping at the idea of math and being hurling every possible selection in their cart – all to avoid the admission that they don’t know if the box of shrimp they’ve collected costs more than the national debt of Peru.
10Box gets points for décor – or lack thereof. As already mentioned, they’ll get the “Walking Dead” crowd, in the literal sense and entertainment sense. When they say they don’t waste money on presentation or optics, they aren’t kidding: you can almost feel the breeze of the flea market as you peruse the aisles.
For the fans of the TV show “The Middle,” 10Box is the model I now have in mind when I picture the Heck family careening through the canned goods and produce at the mythical “Frugal Hoosier” grocery chain, where nothing gets thrown away, except your expectations.
Don’t take my word for all of this, though. I can’t be trusted as a reliable source. Please go visit 10Box yourself. Take all your kids, as many as you can find, and drive over for a visit.