It Saves to Be Nice Part 4: How to Save Money by Helping Businesses Keep Operating Costs Down

Fruits photo by Petr Kratochvil

One day after grocery shopping, when I was returning my shopping cart to the collection area at the front of the parking lot, an older gentleman who was parked next to me happened to be doing the same thing. As we returned our carts together, he made a comment about how we were being good citizens and it occurred to me then that we were being more than good citizens but also good customers, and more importantly, smart customers.

By returning our shopping carts to the collection area, we can help the store save money because their employees won’t have to spend hours chasing down shopping carts around the large parking lot. By reducing the need for employees to do this, they can better spend their time inside cleaning the store, organizing merchandise and helping customers  — all things that can only contribute to a pleasanter shopping experience for us customers because:

  • Store cleanliness = healthier, more comfortable shopping
  • Store organization = we can quickly/easily find what we need
  • Efficient customer service = we save time and are happy

But returning carts isn’t the only way to help the store, and therefore you, save money.

Help Businesses Keep Costs Down to Save You Money

Business don’t enjoy raising prices because they know it makes customers unhappy and they can potentially lose business to competitors. But they also cannot operate if they lose money. These days, businesses are raising prices left and right; almost every time I go to the supermarket, it seems the prices are a little higher than before.

So, in order to slow down or prevent ever-rising prices, we as consumers should do all we can to help businesses keep costs down to avoid the need for them to raise prices.

Grocery Stores

  1. Browse refrigerated items with the doors closed and only open the doors if/when you need to read the back of packages or to take what you need.
  2. Take only as many produce bags and ties as needed for the amount of produce you’re buying. I sometimes don’t take twist ties and just tie knots on the bags if I can.
  3. Return items to the shelf where you got them if you change your mind.
  4. Put refrigerated items back in a refrigerator if you change your mind so they don’t spoil and have to be thrown out.
  5. Take care with produce. Take fruits and vegetables out of piles carefully so you don’t spill or bruise surrounding items.
  6. Don’t set shopping baskets on top of produce. (I’ve actually seen someone do this on a pile of apples which horrified me because, not only did it bruise the apples, but the basket had previously been set on the floor.)


Take only what you need. This goes for:

  1. Paper goods – napkins, utensils, cups, lids, straws, etc.
  2. Condiments – ketchup, salt, pepper, sauces, etc.
  3. Soft drink refills


  1. Handle merchandise with respect so you don’t damage it and make it unsaleable. Treat items as you would if it were yours and set or hang things back where you took them.
  2. Pick it up merchandise fallen on the floor and set it some place where it can’t be kicked, trodden and damaged.
  3. Stand away from doorways to talk to someone or to look for or put things in your purse so you don’t let air-conditioned air out.

Doing theses things only take a few seconds, but can make a significant difference in a business’s operating costs if every consumer took the time and consideration. Not only should we be rewarded with better service (remember, employees are human and will treat you better if you’re respectful), but hopefully less or slower inflation of prices.

Previous “It Saves to Be Nice” articles:

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6 thoughts on “It Saves to Be Nice Part 4: How to Save Money by Helping Businesses Keep Operating Costs Down”

  1. Great points, Penelope – not only are these things good manners, they’re also smart for all the reasons you’ve stated.

    I’m forever telling my children to use resources wisely. Most of what you’ve said falls into that category.
    PS: Forgot to add great post!

  2. yeah for sure! gotta return those carts back to their lovely spots 🙂 not only does it help the store, and thus customers, but it’s POLITE. we gotta hold on to that stuff like good little boy scouts.

  3. I’m with you on this one. We’re all in this together. Everyone is always talking about values and religion an such, but it seems that when it comes to money – anything goes! Time to improve on that.

  4. This post reminds me of Aldi. Although I’m not an Aldi shopper, I like their business model…especially how they “rent” their shopping carts. Customers are forced to return them or lose their deposit. Fewer stray carts in the parking lot = safer parking lot, and no cart gatherers.

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