Winning the Grocery Game

March 5, 2010

I can’t remember the last time I talked with another vegan about this and they didn’t admit to playing the grocery game.  It’s one of those instinctive things that we just do, maybe as humans, maybe just as vegans, but hey, it’s a fun way to pass the time.

What’s the grocery game?  Simple: when you’re waiting in line at the cashier, look at the purchases of the person in front of you.  If everything on the belt is vegan, it’s a win!

For me, it doesn’t really matter if they’re just buying a bottle of soda; I like to win so I make the rules easy.  Some people have higher standards, so they’ll work out elaborate bonus point scoring systems incorporating raw foods, unprocessed items, etc.  You probably have your own guidelines, and today’s post isn’t about how to play the grocery game, it’s how to really win.

“Winning” the grocery game is a missed opportunity

Nobody likes to talk about this, but there aren’t a lot of vegans out there.  I hear from lots of you (via replies to the newsletter, mostly) that you don’t even know a single other vegan in your city or town.  And yet, I’m sure some of you have “won” the grocery game and then went on with your lives wondering why you can’t meet more vegans.

It’d be awesome if we could turn those chance victories into lasting friendships, wouldn’t it?

There are lots of reasons why this doesn’t happen.  Starting a conversation with a stranger is outside of a lot of our comfort zones.  We worry that it can come off a bit stalker-y.  The other person might not even be vegan.  The other person might be insane.  Maybe it’d make veganism look bad. And so on.

For those reasons, this isn’t a post about how to talk to strangers (in all honesty, pickup guides are probably the best resource for that – as I’ve said before, I recommend The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists (affiliate link); it’s not a how-to guide but it’s an entertaining story and I got a lot of outreach ideas from it, believe it or not.)

Instead, I’m recommending that you be open to being approached when you’re shopping. Remember, the person behind you might be playing the grocery game too!  Here are a few ways to create opportunities:

If you’re with someone else, mention veganism in your conversation while you’re waiting.  Position yourself as best as you can (I know, it’s a narrow aisle, but be aware of your surroundings) so the person behind you can interrupt your conversation.  Try talking specifically about a particular product, and how you’re wondering what it’ll be like, or how you like to serve it.

If you’re by yourself, please don’t talk to yourself in lieu of option one 🙂  Instead, try standing sideways, facing the belt, so your back isn’t to the person behind or in front of you.  Relax.  Smile a little.  Now’s not the time to check your email or read one of the magazines or any of those things that means someone will have to interrupt you to start a conversation.

If you decide you want to start the conversation, try asking about a product the other person is buying.  It’s easy, relevant, and gives the other person a chance to decide if they want to talk to you.  If they’re a grocery game player too, they’ll be able to scan your purchases at this point and then you’ll have done them a favour of creating the opening.

This is the kind of thing that might come up in your lives once or twice in a year, or maybe a decade, but it’d be a shame to miss out on.  It’s a simple thing to be aware of, so next time you’re shopping and you’re playing the grocery game, remember that the people around you might be doing the same thing.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

angela_thrust March 5, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Talking with the cashier sometimes works too. I remember one time she asked me “whats this?” because there was no code, I said “kale”, she said “OK” and then found the code, then she paused and asked “what do you do with it?”. Well, I'm sure a huge smile came over my face and it was hard to keep from rambling on and on about how easy it is to cook, and how its full of calcium other great stuff… but it also brought the person behind me in line into the conversation and we talked a little bit more about “greens”.

I also strike up conversation when people are standing infront of the tofu/ mock meats and seem unsure about what to buy… sometimes when I reach for my product, I'll say “isn't it great there are so many choices now?”, which has opened up dialogue with people who are new to tofu and are lost and confused with what to do with it exactly…. or someone saying “fuck yeah, tofurkey is awesome.”

jasondoucette March 5, 2010 at 11:04 pm

I need to shop with you more often 🙂

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