Setting Thesaurus Entry: Grocery Store


Isles of shelving, bright florescent lighting, end displays of popular products (soup cans, chips, BBQ sauce, cereal, etc), sale signs, banners with store mottoes ("Freshness guaranteed" or "Shop and Save!" etc), isle signs stating product location, rows and rows of household products (toilet tissue, cleaners, dish washing liquid, bleach, laundry soap, etc), canned food (soup, tuna, beans, tomatoes, etc), boxes and bagged goods (Kraft dinner, rice mixes, chips, sugar, flour, cereal, etc), check stand bags, check out, grocery belt, cash registers, managers walking around, sample stations, cashiers ringing in purchases, bag boys hauling or bagging groceries, a steam cleaning rental stand, newspapers ad books near checkout, display of impulse items: gum, candy, chocolate bars, batteries, mints, etc), lots of big glass windows along the front of the store, customer service booth, Bank machine, lotto center, rows of coin-fed grocery carts, stacks of shopping baskets, flower department: ready made bouquets, houseplants and tropicals, foil balloons, potting soil, fertilizers for house plants, dried arrangements, silk arrangements, decorative pots Bakery department: showcases of cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, bins of bulk bagels and buns, shelves with bread, buns, pita breads, flat breads, hot dog and hamburger buns, dough machines, bakery ovens, gleaming stainless steel counters Deli department: glass showcases of all different types of ham, salami, baloney, chicken, turkey, etc, fresh made sandwiches, salads, deli meat and cheese trays, specialty olive bar, whole chickens roasting in ovens, stainless steel counters, scale, meat slicers, plastic bags, price tags Meat department: long open coolers with meat sections for beef, chicken, pork and sometimes seafood Frozen Food Department: Closed door cases filled with frozen pizzas, ice cream, convenience foods (french fries, froze dinners, chicken wings, pie crusts, juice cans, etc) Produce Department: slanted displays of apples, oranges, melons, tomatoes, peppers (green, yellow, red) squashes, carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, etc, bins of potatoes, sprayers for lettuce, rolls of plastic produce bags, twist ties, price and weight signs on stands, scales, boxes of bulk seasonal fruit (plums, peaches, mangoes, apples, oranges, etc) Bulk department: small square bins of dried fruits, nuts, grains, dried beans and peas, candies, baking supplies (chocolate chips, sugar, baking powder, etc)


Background music on speakers (usually an easy listening radio station), rattle of bags, cashiers calling for price checks, the bleep of items being scanned at checkouts, squeaky cart wheels, the whoosh of air conditioning and electronic doors opening and closing, Tearing a bag off the roll for produce or bulk foods, phones ringing, the thump of setting cans, boxes of pop and other heavy items on the conveyor belt, the rip of coupons being torn out of the flyer at the checkout, kids whining, begging, crying when shopping trips go on too long, people talking on cel phones as they shop


Fresh baked bread goods (yeasty & buttery or spices: cinnamon, ginger, savories, etc), roasting chickens (spices and char), a sweet aroma coming off fresh ripe fruit, air conditioning, sample stations serving up toasted/fried appetizer type foods or sausage, detergent and cleaners on the household isle, a papery smell from all the cardboard boxes, a metallic smell from the cold metal & frost in the frozen department, spices from the spice section, cleaning products, rot from fruit or veggies that have gone bad but haven't been disposed of by staff yet


samples from sample booths (sausage, cinnamon buns or other sweets, appetizer foods in pastries, drink samples), opening a bag of chips or crackers to snack on as you shop or at the cash out, gum, mints, candies, coffee brought to the store


The cold metal carts, squeezing a loaf of bread, the papery smoothness of a potato or pear, checking for brown spots or bruises, bringing a pineapple up to the nose to smell, squeezing fruit, icy cold against the palms and fingers as you grab a bag of frozen corn, cold breath on the face as you open a frozen food case, rubbing at a tickling in the nose from too many scents in the fabric softener/room freshener isle, plunking cans into the cart, pushing a heavy cart, shoving the cart to maneuver corners, Stuffing a frilly vegetable into a bag (carrot tops, cilantro, parsley or lettuce), wet hands from recently sprayed produce, pulling at stacked meat trays to get them to unstick from each other to find a good cut or amount, turning boxes around on the shelf to read the ingredients, punching in numbers for your debit pin, placing a hand on a cool display case, sorting through mushrooms, apples, grape bags, etc. Crinkling cellophane bags as you search bagged salads for rot

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Hell in the grocery store world is the candy isle. It doesn't matter what time it is, opening or closing, invariably I will wheel my overflowing cart through the colorful containers of licorice and jelly beans, gritting my teeth as I listen to the hysterical wailing of a toddler bent on having that big bag of gummy bears. It's almost enough to put me off sugar, and definitely enough to put me off ever having kids.

Example 2:

Most people hate grocery day, but not me. For a good hour and a half I get to leave the kids with their dad and prowl the isles in search of bargains and new products to make my life easier. I never rush the experience--the soft, soothing oldies station is a balm to my ears with its lack of Barney sing-songs and Doddle Bops tracks and my brief exchange with the cashier might be the only adult conversation I get the whole week.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

After I finish loading the last stack of frozen Weight Watcher meals onto the conveyor belt, the colorful display of chocolate bars beside the checkout draws my eye like a hundred banners saying, Go ahead! Cheat! Cheat!

Example 2: (Metaphor)

A good inch of frost coated the container, making it impossible to tell if it was an ice cream tub, or saber-tooth skull predating the Ice Age.

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Marian said...

I like the description "a frilly vegetable". Now each time I go to the grocery store I'm going to see green frills. :)

I don't buy the bagged salads, so it didn't occur to me that people had to check those for rot. You learn something new...

Mary Witzl said...

Wish I'd had dinner before I started reading this! Lovely descriptions, especially when we got to the smells section...

Angela said...

Thanks, guys. This one was pretty easy for me--I worked in a grocery store as a teen.



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