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Bud

Disappointment in PriceSmart

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I am loosing confidence in PriceSmart with regard to stocking policies. Some for instances here.

  • They used to carry both a meat and vegetarian versions of frozen lasagna. I recall the brand name had something like Michael in it. We haven’t seen supplies of either variety in more than two years, even though asking store management about it.
  • We haven’t been able to find facial tissues (Kleenex) for months.
  • We haven’t been able to find dishwasher soap, either liquid or pods or powder, for some time. Also can find none at Romero, Rey, Super Xtra, Super Baru, or the smaller M/S stores.

And yes, we know not that many locals have dish washing machines, but some do. What do they use for soap? And no, the shortage of facial tissue is not because of coronavirus because the shortage predates coronavirus.

We finally ended up ordering supplies of Kleenex and Cascade pods from online stores in the US.

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I was surprised to find Cascade dishwasher liquid at Ivan's grocery store. Also, I wish Price Smart would start selling the big blocks of pepper jack cheese again. it's been about 8 years now. I also miss the lasagna which was called Michaelangelo 🤢

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I am questioning myself as to whether I should renew my "membership".  I can get pretty much everything they stock elsewhere for comparable prices and I don't have to wait in a long line. (I was going to say wait 30 minutes but by that time I would have abandonded the cart and walked out).

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A local bar owner closed his bar. When ask why he responded;

"I could not keep beer in the cooler."

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Gago in Alto Boquete has become a partial substitute for Price Smart for me. Their fresh vegetables are priced equivalent or even lower than Price Smart and I've even found decent boxes of red wine cheaper than the Clos 3-pack. Also, City Mall next door to Price Smart has cleaning products priced well below Price Smart. I'm talking about bleach, laundry detergent, lquid for cleaning floors, etc. Right now, if it wasn't for dog food, I wouldn't be going to Price Smart.

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Posted (edited)

Cero Punta.   $5.00 a large bag of fresh packed veggies.  We bought several there yesterday and packed bags up for neighbors.  We will not go into a store right now...not for awhile.   Caution, there is one lane traffic about where Arte Cruz has his wood carving shop.  They are bulldozing a mountain off beside the road there.  To avoid that you have to take the old narrow winding road to Volcan not the one that goes through Cuesta de Piedra. 

Edited by Brundageba

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Interesting comments here. Thank you.

Yesterday afternoon (due to an unplanned but necessary trip to David), Marcelyn and I found the Cascade (granted it is the powder version) and facial tissues (actually Kleenex brand) at Super 99 in David. That is a store that we do not frequent, but were pleasantly surprised to find these products.

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PriceSmart has to deal with many bureaucratic procedures to import food stuffs and other products into Panama.

I used to live and work in Saudi Arabia, and it was a similar issue.  When something as simple as Peanut butter or tuna got stocked in the stores, the word would go out that those items were in, people would stock up on those items immediately, and then anyone who didn't get the items would wait sometimes for another 9 months until the next shipment came in and went thru the same importation bureaucratic process.

That's how it is when living abroad.

These are the threads from recent emails from PriceSmart regarding the lasagna.

March 5:   the Buyer is working on a replacement from Nestle Stouffers...but we're currently unable to provide a timeline.
 

March 6:  I received, today, from Nestle.

- Lasagna – we have expedited this product, I have BuyDoc, Photos, and partially completed Technical Data Sheet – we are waiting for Certificate of Origin to proceed issuing the FTA, this takes the most time internally

Not sure which market SassyBlake is in but if it is Central America it will be a while before we get registrations. At least 6 months from the time we get all documents.

March 15:  About the lasagna - only 1 SKU is in the works due to limited space.

note from SassyBlake:  I'm assuming that the one SKU means the lasagna will be either meat of vegetarian, but not both varieties; at this time.  They want to meet the requests, so if there is a demand and the item is a good seller, they'll do what they can to keep us stocked. 

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Received today from Price Smart - Machine translated - apparently applies to all of their locations:

Dear partner,

To ensure your health and safety and that of our employees, please take the following measures into account:

From our side:

 

    We are continually instructing our employees to ensure compliance with regulatory health and safety procedures.
    We are doing extensive cleanings of all surfaces and spaces, and will supply hand sanitizer throughout the club.
    We may limit the quantity of certain products that are low in inventory in purchases.
    We will continue to restock our merchandise as soon as possible, which may mean changes in brand and product sizes compared to what we normally provide in clubs.
    We are limiting the number of members who can access the club simultaneously, to avoid crowds.
    Given the exceptional nature of the situation, the Optics, Tires and Food Area services will remain closed.


We appreciate your collaboration:


    We recommend keeping a minimum distance of 1 meter with other members while you are in the club.
    If possible, only one member per family should enter the club so that other members can make their purchase.
    As much as possible, avoid bringing children to the club.
    Avoid making cash payments; prioritize card payment to avoid contact.
    In some clubs we are modifying the hours of attention to the members to have an extended shopping schedule. In other clubs we have had to reduce hours to comply with the regulation.
    Visit PriceSmart.com or our social media for recent information on our services and hours.

To ensure a better shopping experience, follow the recommendations of our club employees.

WE APPRECIATE COOPERATION AS WE STRIVE TO MEET YOUR NEEDS IN A SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE MANNER.

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In addition to the above posting by @Sassy Blake, which was good information along with the other comments, I need to add that there has been some private communications initiated by Sassy to me. We are fortunate to have community members like Sassy who work to make things better for all of us.

I now better understand some of the issues and constraints that PriceSmart deals with. Those issues probably face other businesses as well.

Thank you, Sassy.

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Necessary business trip to David today (Friday) so decided to purchase a few things for us at PriceSmart plus shopped for two other families living in Boquete who don’t have transportation.

Only Panamanians in PriceSmart (Bud & I were the only gringos that I saw). Everyone friendly (yes, I know a few Panamanians can be “crusty”, but most are polite and helpful).  Everyone paid attention to keep your distance tape on the floor. Staff counted number of people in the store and wore mask and gloves.

Door monitor was wearing mask and gloves; dispersing (required for entry) hand cleaner from a huge bottle, and alerting every shopper “no cash...credit card only for payment”. Of course some potential buyers left immediately.

Overall it was a pleasant experience.

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Shopping and Reducing Virus Exposure:  We are reducing the things we really need down to basics so as to limit our time inside any grocery store.  If we have to go to Boquete we consolidate everything we do , with a list and a plan so we never linger long anywhere.  Clorox wipes for handles on doors and alcohol solution frequently. We make trips to  Cero Punta vegetables ( $5.00 bags of mixed veggies. )  Less human exposure and surface contact.  Its not really that inconvenient.  

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15 hours ago, Marcelyn said:

Necessary business trip to David today (Friday) so decided to purchase a few things for us at PriceSmart plus shopped for two other families living in Boquete who don’t have transportation.

Only Panamanians in PriceSmart (Bud & I were the only gringos that I saw). Everyone friendly (yes, I know a few Panamanians can be “crusty”, but most are polite and helpful).  Everyone paid attention to keep your distance tape on the floor. Staff counted number of people in the store and wore mask and gloves.

Door monitor was wearing mask and gloves; dispersing (required for entry) hand cleaner from a huge bottle, and alerting every shopper “no cash...credit card only for payment”. Of course some potential buyers left immediately.

Overall it was a pleasant experience.

One aspect of this pandemic is bothering me. We had to use a hand sanitizer at the entrance to PriceSmart. I don’t have a problem with doing that. We have hand sanitizers at home and use them frequently. Marcelyn even carries one in her purse, which we use prior to eating out (she offers it to others if we have dining guests). As an aside, I also frequently scrub both hands with hot soapy water while we are home. The soap is a liquid anti-bacterial variety.

What bothers me is that hand sanitizers are anti-bacterial agents, and yet Covid-19 is viral in nature. Seems to be a disconnect there. What am I missing?

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13 hours ago, Bud said:

What bothers me is that hand sanitizers are anti-bacterial agents, and yet Covid-19 is viral in nature. Seems to be a disconnect there. What am I missing?

Alcohol is a disinfectant.  A sanitizer...a hand sanitizer.  Works for virus as well.  I think the use of "Antibacterial' is just a commercial presentation of a sanitizing product..

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