Going, going, gone!

Last week Stop & Shop announced that it was pulling out of New Hampshire and closing its six stores in the Granite State. The chain claimed the stores had been losing money for sometime and it wished to invest in its stronger operating areas in the Northeast.

Although the stores aren’t slated to close until September 21, Stop & Shop is already holding a going-out-of-business sale with many items reduced by 50%. The result, according to newspaper reports and WMUR ABC Channel 9 in Manchester has been pandemonium.

Reporter Melinda Davenport spent last Friday in a jammed packed Stop & Shop parking lot, and from how she describes it, the scene was like the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, the day before a blizzard warning and senior citizen bus day all rolled into one.

“People are telling me it is the most chaos they’ve ever seen in a grocery store,” she told her viewers.

She reported that it took shoppers 10 minutes of circling around the parking lot just to find a spot, but that was nothing compared to what waited inside. For starters, there were no shopping carts because of the crowds. Some shoppers were “selling” theirs for $10 after they loaded their groceries into their car.

After all that wait, at least one shopper stormed out of the store empty handed after telling about jammed packed aisles and bare shelves. “All the good stuff is already gone,” she said. Her sentiments were validated by cell phone images of shelves picked totally clean except for a few boxes of Kleenex brand tissue and private label Nature’s Promise organic potato chips. It was actual proof that even at half off people do not want to eat that organic stuff.

Shoppers then had to wait in line for literally hours to check out and at least two shoppers broke out into fisticuffs over one cutting in line. To top it all off, one cashier just up and quit in frustration while the news crew was there.

Apparently Stop & Shop was more popular in New Hampshire than the chain had thought. All they had to do was run some better sales.

Perhaps they could have made their stores turn a profit by using a little ol’ Yankee ingenuity. Why not have a “one day sale” every few months where everything is reduced by 10%? That would draw in throngs of shoppers. Heck, it seems to work for Macy’s.

Or better yet, have a one day sale where the more you spend, the more you save. Say, save 5% off of orders under $50, 7% off of orders of $75, and 10% off of $100 or more.

That would encourage shoppers to stock up. These sales could be timed to run right before major food holidays, like Thanksgiving. It could even be limited to Thanksgiving staples, like turkeys, yams, turnips, stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, crescent rolls and those dusty jars of mincemeat that nobody ever buys.

I bet Stop & Shop could even make back some of that margin loss by having shoppers “reserve” a shopping cart for $1.00 so they wouldn’t have to scour the parking lot looking for one. After all, apparently there are idiots willing to spend $10 to rent one from a total stranger.

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