Relay: Dear Stop And Shop

Good luck; we're rooting for you!
In with the new: A worker hung the new Stop and Shop sign on the former Waldbaum's store on Oct. 9. Carissa Katz

The closing of Waldbaum’s was a long time coming. The company had been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for a while, and the growing neglect that comes with that may account for why so many of us out here were left wondering why Waldbaum’s hated us so much.

We have high hopes for Stop and Shop, which is taking over the East Hampton Waldbaum’s and several others on Long Island. With its East Hampton opening slated for tomorrow, I hope it’s not too late to offer some advice about what I hope can be done better.

Waldbaum’s had a lot of problems. The parking lot hadn’t been repaved in what seemed like decades, unless you count the black paint job it got a year or so ago, so it made sense that the carts felt like they’d all been run over by a truck. Did corporate ship all the bad ones east or were they just beat to death by that parking lot? Only a handful had four wheels that touched the ground. If I’m going to spend $200 a week in a grocery store, I appreciate a cart that drives straight. It was when wrestling my cart around a turn that I felt most hated.

Most of the aisles, already too narrow for two carts to pass in opposite directions, were made even narrower by a variety of displays, making cart navigation even harder. There was hardly any room to line up or bag groceries at the checkout aisles, resulting in a maddening scrum of carts on even a moderately busy day. The roof leaked, the freezers and refrigerators broke down often, the store seemed stuck in the 1990s at best, but still I shopped there, and as much as the hate was sort of mutual, I felt a little sad when it finally closed.

I’ll miss some of the employees, most of whom I knew by face but not name, and some of the distributors, who were so accommodating about bringing out a favorite product that had disappeared from the shelves. It wasn’t their fault. I’ll miss the store-brand dryroasted unsalted jumbo cashews and the Greenway organic yellow corn chips. But there is a lot I won’t miss and I’m hoping Stop and Shop will try a little harder. I know we can’t expect everything in a week. This is a longterm project.

Dear Stop and Shop:

I hope you have destroyed all the shelves at the former East Hampton Waldbaum’s because they were too deep. We need wider aisles. Two carts should be able to pass each other in an aisle without knocking down a toilet paper display.

I hope you have sent all the carts to the junkyard and will reopen with new ones, not damaged castoffs from the Hampton Bays or Riverhead stores. If we don’t have to think about how hard it will be to push a full cart, we might buy more groceries.

Please repave the parking lot, if not immediately, then very soon. A wellpaved parking lot makes an excellent first impression. Plus, the new carts will last longer. Also, please tell your employees not to fill the parking lot with their own cars. It’s hard enough to get a space in the lot.

You’ll also need to repair the roof. It leaks. And maybe put in a new bathroom so mothers with children who just can’t wait won’t have to warn them not to touch anything.

Please, please, please provide more space to line up for checkout and for bagging.

Please clean the deli department.

Please consider a natural and organic foods section, and possibly a self-checkout area that functions more smoothly.

Good luck. We’re rooting for you!

Carissa Katz is The Star’s managing editor.