Diary of a Discount Shopper | It’s an Olive Bar, Not an All You Can Eat Buffet


The following is a true story, based upon real life events and REAL people pigs.

I’m not a fan of the word cheap (and I might have told you that a time or two).  When I think of ‘cheap’, my mind is filled with images of someone who bends every rule, takes advantage of every gray area, and sometimes out and out steals to save money. 

I prefer sensible, smart, savvy, etc- which implies that a shopper makes conscious decisions on the best way to spend his/her money.

Enter the olive bar.  An olive bar is sort of like a salad bar, but with antipasto items.  You pay by the weight (around $10/lb) for an assortment of these items.

At our new HyVee store, the olive bar is adjacent to the deli.  While standing in line for Black Forest ham yesterday, I witnessed something revolting.

I looked over and saw a lady sticking her dirty toothpick in the olives and going to town like she had just finished a 30 day fast.  She was chowing down so fast, olive juice was running down her chin.

I quickly glanced away.  Then I thought to myself “Why should I look away? She’s the idiot stealing olives.”  After doing a quick mental sweep of the area, I saw no toothpicks- so it definitely was not a sample area.  I had no choice now- I had to do what any person with a conscience would do.  That’s right- I gave her the stink-eye.  HARD.  I’m talking eat a hole through your olive stuffed body and melt the artisan cheese behind you stink-eye.  I followed up the stink eye with a “you’re pathetic” look for good measure.

She dropped the toothpick and ran over to her shopping companions.  I could hear her telling them that some crazy lady was giving her the stink-eye because she was sampling the olives.  My back started to burn, because of the glares sent directly at my backside.  For a  split second, I was worried about confrontation.  Then I realized that there would be no confrontation as they were definitely in the wrong.  I looked up to see them fleeing for the exits.  I’m assuming at $10 per lb and the amount of olives this chick put away, this could be a capital offense. 

By this time, my deli order was finished and I went to walk away.. just as another lady slinked up with a dirty toothpick… well crud, here we go again. 

I was planning on buying some- but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Who knows whose dirty hands and toothpicks have been in there..  I can drool for free- I don’t want to pay $10/lb for someone else’s.

The moral of this story:

Eating items in store not labeled ‘sample’ is stealing- and contamination.  If in doubt, ask yourself: “Would I carry this outside and eat it in the car?”  If the answer is no, put it down.

I didn’t see these shoppers swiping a piece of pizza or sticking a straw in the vat of Egg Drop soup. 

The Smart Shopper’s way to sample the olives?  Save on the rest of your purchases so you can afford them!

What do you think?  Should items be free for the taking as long as you eat them in-store?  Does it all go back to the ‘grape sampling’ issue that Marge Simpson once encountered?

Check out the other posts in the Diary of a Discount Shopper Series


  1. says

    Okay, I have to giggle at the Simpsons reference… but I think that sampling a non-sample and then not even buying it is totally stealing! They have problems with that at our Central Market because there are so many things in bulk bins and fresh displays like that. There are signs on every single shelf that say ‘Please ask an associate if you would like a sample.” I doubt anyone has done what that lady did without knowing it was flat-out wrong though! There’s a reason it costs so much…


    Alicia Reply:

    I fully agree- have the decency to buy a few! You don’t see me munching the Honeycrisp apples (no matter how badly I want to).


  2. Ann says

    I am soooo grossed out and yet laughing hysterically all at the same time. I have a hard time bringing myself to eat off buffets because of your aforementioned behaviors from others. From a sensible, savvy saver to another, I’m thinking I’ll make my own antipesto bar/salad bar/buffet.


    Alicia Reply:

    Someone once made a statement about a buffet that I cannot get out of my mind and have had an extremely difficult time eating at one since. I’ll spare y’all the details.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>