By Nikki Silverstein
Hero: Sometimes we struggle to determine whether a story belongs in the Hero or Zero section. This shopping expedition clearly belongs in both. Terry, a Mill Valley resident, took her elderly neighbor to buy a table-top Christmas tree just a week before the big holiday. First stop was the Mill Valley Safeway, where Terry asked a manager if she could leave her credit card and take one of their small trees to the parking lot to show her neighbor, who was waiting in the car. “No need to leave the card,” he said. As she exited the store, he called out, “On second thought, please keep the tree. And Merry Christmas!” Now there’s a man who understands the spirit of the holiday. A true mensch, indeed.
Zero: But wait, we have the flip side. Since the tree wasn’t quite the size the neighbor had in mind, they next went to the Mill Valley Whole Foods, on Blithedale, where they found the perfect-sized tree. A sign nearby announced the price as $30. When Terry asked a clerk if the price was correct, he confirmed that it was. Taken a bit aback, given the small stature of the sapling and the steep sticker, Terry decided against making the purchase and politely declined, after which the clerk added, “Last week, they were $25.” Humbug. Same trees, higher price as the holiday draws near—somewhat reminiscent of the price-gouging for which the grocery chain is renowned. Whole Foods, you are Mill Valley’s scourge and Scrooge.
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