Do-it-yourself grocery shopping | AspenTimes.com

Do-it-yourself grocery shopping

Naomi Havlen

Helen Schermerhorn of Woody Creek scans her groceries Thursday using one of the new machines at City Market in Aspen. (Michael Brands)

For those who lament having their fruits and vegetables manhandled by strangers in the grocery store checkout line, self-checkout stations have arrived at Aspen’s City Market.Of course, for others, the checkout machines lack personality.”I like a personal touch – I’ve tried these downvalley, but they didn’t work for me,” said Aspen resident Sam Green, who got a human checker to scan his two cartons of raspberries on Thursday afternoon.

The four “U-Scan” machines arrived at City Market in Aspen on Wednesday, and were put to work on Thursday for the first time. They’re the first such stations in Aspen, although City Market stores in El Jebel, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs all offer self-checkout stations.According to Aspen store assistant manager Kevin Braklow, two regular checkout stations were pulled out of the store to make room for the four self-service machines.On Thursday afternoon, customer reviews of self-scanning were mixed.”I think one day it will be convenient, but it’s not there yet,” said Aspen resident Lisa Houston. “And there’s a big learning curve for me, and for the checkers, too.”

One store checker will always oversee operation of the four machines.”I’ve been shopping here for 40 years, back when it was Alpine Market, and I think at Christmastime these will help with the rush in the store,” resident Pat Newkam said. “People from other cities will probably have already seen these and know how to use them. The thing that drives me nuts are [punching in] the codes for fruits and vegetables. You have to look for the sticker [on the product], and then the print is tiny.”Trail Daugherty, director of consumer affairs in the Denver corporate office for City Market stores said Aspen is the 24th out of all 38 stores to get the U-Scan system. He said 31 percent of customers use the service.”It’s really another choice for consumers in addition to those who’d like someone to check them out,” he said. “It’s an efficient option that seems to really help in rush periods to move people through because you can have four people check out at the same time with one clerk assisting.”

Daugherty said the machines will not eliminate employees – workers will just be redirected to other work in the store.”I think they’re great, and it’s about time they got them,” said Jim Getty, who was visiting Aspen from Richmond, Va., where he’s used them for “years and years.”Jack Dinerstein, a part-time Aspen resident who checked himself out two bouquets of flowers, said he hates to wait, so he’s happy about the self-service machines. “I’m in City Market every other day for something, so I’ll use it.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com