Natural Foods (aka "Nutrition")

This department has natural, organic, and odd items. Most customers considered it a way to avoid a trip to Whole Foods. In this department, most items sold slowly at what looked like high profit, often at a loss (markdowns) if refrigerated, or not at all. I even had to mark down Frozen items regularly. You could work a whole U-boat of backstock with hardly anything going to the shelf. The low volume kept other departments from taking it seriously. Despite that, there could be a lot of work to do for the few people in the department. It also brought in customers willing to pay top dollar for highest quality and service. That's main value I saw in it.

Nutrition started hurting most during integration. They moved lots of natural products into the regular isles. Since other people stocked them, they moved many labor hours from Nutrition to those departments. Those departments already had staff cuts that prevented them from stocking all they had. They decided they'd just stock the faster-moving items management held them accountable for. Nutrition clerks would have to stock everything allocated to Nutrition and the other departments. For some reason, management kept acting like the other departments were stocking and conditioning the ex-Nutrition products. Then, Kroger reducing prices with more sales made the stuff start really selling. People had to sprint to keep up with it.

The next move was destruction by side jobs. We had the top of the hour scan requiring us to spend five minutes of every hour re-arranging stuff on the shelves. We did that instead of stocking. Every time product sold, we had to condition more. Re-arranging storage put our milk behind and often under other departments' stuff. We were required to drag several U-boats and a pallet through a crowded hallway getting everything worked in an hour or so to make required time. We "failed" every day. We also had to scan Lows and Holes after each shift, which took me an hour. They kept insisting we only had a few isles with plenty of staff in a department where I scanned 999 lows and holes in one day. Even low volume, that's a lot of losses.

For unrelated reasons, Nutrition was discontinued, fully integrated into the store, and we were moved into new departments. My store manager moved me into Pickup. He figured someone who worked on lots of technology outside Kroger might find how we did things interesting over there. He was right.