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Please, allow me to stock those shelves

Somewhere, someone is keeping track of my purchases at the grocery store, determining what new products I’ve taken a liking to and sending out memorandums instructing the grocery store to stop stocking those items.

I noticed that was happening several years ago after I discovered an apricot marinade made in Oregon or Washington state. It was great on pork chops and in other dishes. Of course, as soon as I became a regular consumer of it, that marinade disappeared from the shelf.

Earlier this year, I came across a sugar-free, cherry-pomegranate drink I found refreshing and inexpensive. After determining the first 32-ounce bottle was worth buying again, I should have returned to the grocery store as soon as possible and bought every bottle on the shelf.

Of course, that cherry-pomegranate drink is no longer on the shelf.

About the same time that I discovered the cherry-pomegranate drink, I discovered a brand of sugar-free lemon cookies. I bought a box. I ate every cookie in the box, over a period of days.

Of course, those cookies no longer call the grocery store home, actually, temporary home.

When I ask why certain items are no longer on the shelves, I usually hear this: “We were just trying them to see how they would sell.”

Well, if a specific item is on the shelf for less than two weeks, I’d say people like it and sales were good. That being the case, why not order a few more cases of the item and make the customers — or just me — happy?

Just a reminder to grocery stores: some of us try to be careful of what we eat and drink. Why take away those sugar-free, fat-free, reduced-sugar and reduced-fat items after we’ve become accustomed to buying them? There’s a specific brand of reduced-sugar lemonade (with a great taste) I used to find in the refrigerated section. Alas, it’s no longer there. Yet, its full-sugared sibling never disappears from the shelf. That’s just not right.

Grocers, warn me if an item on your shelves this month will never return to those shelves. That way, if I like an item, I can stock up before you let your stock run out. Just put up signs — at the proper locations — that read: Not being restocked.

So, if you see me in a checkout lane with a buggy filled with 37 bottles of marinade and 17 boxes of sugar-free, fat-free cookies, you’ll know what I’m doing. I’m sending a message for the grocer to restock those items, if only for me.

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Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. If area grocery stores stop stocking Duke’s mayonnaise, his ’mater sandwiches will never be the same.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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