Monday, 4 July 2011

Malmesbury business does it again!

The Agrimark in Malmesburg is gigantic. It has an enormous retail section and, up a ramp, an equally huge warehouse which stocks… well, I’ll come to that.

Agrimark’s website boasts that it ‘aims to meet all agricultural requirements’, and also ‘provide in [sic] the needs of the outdoor and DIY enthusiast’.

Which I find a tad untruthful, as I’ve seldom been to Agrimark with my list of DIY requirements and left with any of them clutched in my hot little hand.

But, given the dearth of hardware outlets in this part of the world, I persevere in visiting Agrimark in the hope that one day I will leave with what I’ve come for.

Last week my list included:
• 2 L-shaped brackets from which to hang potplants
• an ordinary latch for a cupboard
• a tarpaulin
• a 135x150cm piece of lightweight material with which to cover my pool-pump housing

These four requirements, I’m sure you will agree, are precisely the kinds of things a shop 'providing in the needs of the outdoor and DIY enthusiast' should stock.

But no.

The brackets

I found some L-shaped brackets which were both ugly and expensive; then, after some rooting around, I found one L-shaped bracket that wasn’t too terribly ugly and wouldn’t break the bank. But I needed two.

After some wandering around looking alert and curious, I located an Agri assistant (the shop floor is so huge that these people seem to merge with the merchandise and have to be physically hunted down in order to get some service). I explained that I needed another of the not-too-ghastly and not-too-expensive L-shaped bracket I’d located under a pile of ghastly and expensive ones, and he agreed to go and see if one was in stock.

Allowing an Agri sales assistant to trot off to check the inventory is a somewhat worrisome exercise, because there is no guarantee you’ll ever see him again. In this case, however, he did return, but only to tell me that the cheaper, more attractive version was no longer stocked as ‘it doesn’t sell well’.

Even given that Malmesbury is the town that taste forgot, I found this hard to believe. First, why would anyone choose an expensive, nasty bracket over a cheaper, more attractive one? And, two, surely if stock of the cheaper, more attractive bracket is low, while that of the ugly, expensive one is plentiful, doesn’t that tell its own story?

But we’re dealing with Malmesbury here, so I put a little ‘x’ against ‘2 L-shaped brackets’ on my list.

The cupboard latch

I finally located the stock of cupboard latches but, bizarrely (or perhaps not – this is, after all, Malmesbury), there were about 50 right-hand bits (the piece that goes on one of the doors – let’s call it component A) and zero left-hand bits (the piece that goes on the other door and fits into the first bit, if you see what I mean – let’s call this one component B).

After another search, I tracked down another Agri assistant and pointed out this anomaly to him. He said (I’m not making this up), ‘Oh, yes, well, we assume that people looking for component A already have component B.’

I laughed. I honestly thought he was joking. But he didn’t laugh and I realised that he wasn’t. So I said, ‘That’s ridiculous. What about people who are looking for component A and component B – in other words, a complete latch system?’

He looked at me as if I’d just suggested he eat his own head.

‘And anyway,’ I continued (I am such a sucker for punishment), ‘wouldn’t you say that if your stock of component B is zero, and your stock of component A is plentiful, doesn’t that tell its own… Oh, forget it.’

I put a little ‘x’ against ‘cupboard latch’ on my list.

The tarpaulin

Since I already had an Agri sales assistant at hand, I launched straight into my next request. ‘Do you have tarpaulins?’ I asked.

‘What?’ he asked.

‘A tarpaulin. A groundsheet. Um… a big piece of plastic or canvas or some other study waterproof material,’ I said, somewhat desperately.

‘Ah,’ he said. ‘That’s upstairs in the warehouse.’

So I trundled up the ramp to the warehouse, where I found four Agri assistants sitting around having a chat. I had precisely the same conversation as above with one of them, who responded, ‘Ah. That’s downstairs in the retail section.’

So I put a little ‘x’ against ‘tarpaulin’ on my list.

The 150x135cm lightweight cover

This one was going to be a breeze – while I was up in the warehouse section, I spied, nailed to a wall, six samples in six different colours of light plastic that was exactly what I needed for my pool-pump housing. And not only that, but a big sign above them read, ‘Cut to any size and shape.’ My joy knew no bounds.

‘I’ll have a piece of that one,’ I said, pointing to the light-green sample, ‘cut to 150x135cm.’

‘We don’t stock it,’ the assistant said, examining his nails. ‘We have to order it special.’

By this time, I was doing something I often do in Malmesbury – while tamping down incipient hysteria, I was also furtively looking around for the hidden camera and fully expecting someone to jump out and scream, ‘You’ve been punk’d!’

Needless to say, that didn’t happen, and I had to put a little ‘x’ against ‘lightweight material’ on my list.

I did manage to let off a bit of steam. As I was leaving the store, I walked past a supposed dog-food display that contained (you’ve guessed it) no dog food. A sign above it read, ‘Are you wondering why there’s no dog food in this display?’ (The answer, in small print below, was, ‘It’s because we’re upgrading our product blah-de-blah…’)

It was too much for me. Like a madwoman, I shouted to the shop at large, ‘No, I’m not wondering why there’s no dog food in this display, because this store doesn’t stock anything that anyone needs, ever!’

Then I drove home and lay down for an hour with a wet flannel over my eyes.

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1 comment:

Claudine said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! The one in Hermanus is exactly the same.