You see, the turkeys were supposed to cost just 59 cents per pound. That’s what it said in the Sunday Giant Thanksgiving newspaper flyer. But when we got to the store, the assistant manager informed us that promo price was only good for the purchase of the first turkey. Any additional turkey after that was the standard $1.50 per pound.
I looked back at the 12 cases of frozen turkeys behind me and started to do some math in my head.
Between the employees here at Callahan & Associates and the employees at the Roof Center of Alexandria, we had collected more than $1,000. My friend Susan had gone through the supermarket flyer and calculated that we could buy complete Thanksgiving dinners — including bird, mashed potatoes, stuffing, veggies, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pie filling — for 48 families here in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. We had filled up four shopping carts and commandeered a trolley of frozen turkeys from the meat department. It was in the midst of this effort that Callahan CEO Sean Hession spotted the fine print about the turkey price. Sean and Susan were huddled with the assistant manager, explaining our efforts to help some folks a little less fortunate during this holiday season. While I was calculating the impact of turkey inflation on our plan, Imogene, the store manager at the Giant Supermarket on Glebe Road in Arlington, VA, spotted our scrum and jumped in.
Susan had barely finished explaining what were up to before Imogene said, “We can make this work.” She told the assistant manager to clear a register lane for us and asked an employee from the meat department to transport the turkeys. Sean, Susan, and I grabbed our carts and followed her to the front of the store.
The fine print on the turkey offer read as follows: One turkey at 59 cents per pound with a $25 purchase. Imogene gathered her team and set forth the game plan: $25 worth of groceries from our carts, then one turkey at the cheaper price. Print the receipt. Repeat. Go.
I had seen this kind of shopping maelstrom before on one of those “Extreme Couponing” shows, but I had never seen it in person. On television, the cashiers are usually rolling their eyes and the store manager seems put out at someone gaming the system. In our case, it was the exact opposite.
The grocery industry is pretty intense. Competition is fierce. Margins are thin. But Imogene looked past all of that when she saw our full carts and good intentions. She came up with a solution that adhered to the rules. She mobilized a team to help us process our order in a quick and efficient manner. She sent employees back to find banana boxes — big sturdy boxes with handles — to hold our wares. Finally, when we had emptied our carts and still had almost 20 turkeys yet to buy, she found a creative couponing way to sell them to us at the lower price.
Imogene leapfrogged the hurdles, cut loopholes in the red tape, and helped provide Thanksgiving cheer to 48 households. She listened to our situation and offered a solution. She proved that, sometimes, a little extra effort and care makes the difference between good and great. Imogene is not just a great store manager, she is a great human being.
Now … how do I fit 48 frozen turkeys into a Prius?