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0875 Shopping at the Supermarket

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 875: Shopping at the Supermarket.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 875. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. On there, you can find our ESL Podcast store with additional courses in business and daily English.

This episode is a dialogue between someone who works at a grocery store, a store where you buy food, and a customer. Let’s get started.

[start of dialog]

Stocker: Can I help you find something?

Meg: Yes, I’m looking for coffee.

Stocker: That’s on aisle 3. Let me show you where it is.

Meg: Thanks. Hmm, I don’t see the Jitters brand that I normally buy.

Stocker: It looks like we’re out of stock. We should get another shipment next week.

Meg: Okay, I’ll check back. I’m also looking for the Fructose brand soda, but I didn’t see it in the soda aisle.

Stocker: I’m afraid that’s been discontinued. Their parent company no longer makes soda.

Meg: Really? I love Fructose soda. How about the Mushy brand bread? I didn’t see it when I checked the bread aisle.

Stocker: We no longer stock the Mushy brand. There were so quality control issues at the company, so we’ve pulled all of their products from the shelves. Can I help you find anything else?

Meg: No, I guess I’ll just have to try some new brands. Oh, yes, do you carry Worm organic apples?

Stocker: We normally do, but they’re out of season right now. We won’t have any until early summer.

Meg: All of this shopping and I have nothing to show for it. I guess I’m going home empty-handed.

Stocker: We do have chocolate cakes and cookies on sale.

Meg: I’m there!

[end of dialog]

The person who begins our dialogue is an employee of the grocery store, of the supermarket. He's what we would call a “stocker” (stocker). A “stocker” is a person who puts the products, who puts the food items, on the shelves. He or she is the person who takes them out of a box and puts them up in a place where you can see them, take them, and then buy them.

The stocker says to one of the customers, named Meg, “Can I help you find something?” Meg says, “Yes I'm looking for coffee.” The stocker says, “That’s on aisle 3. Let me show you where it is.” “Aisle” (aisle) refers to a passage, a place where you can walk in between two other things. In this case, in a grocery store, in a supermarket, you have long shelves and the shelves are arranged so that you can walk in between them in order to find what you need and take it off the shelf. That space where you walk, that area where you walk, is called an “aisle.” Many supermarkets number the aisles so that if you are looking for something – as Meg was looking for coffee – the person can just tell you where to go. “It's on aisle 3.” “It's on aisle 4.” Then you know exactly where you need to go.

Meg says, “Thanks. I don't see the Jitters brand I normally buy.” Meg is looking for a particular kind of coffee, a specific “brand” (brand). “Brand” is the name that the company gives their product. You could have Diet Coke. That would be a brand. Or, we have something here in the US called “Coke Zero.” That's the brand, or “Coca-Cola” itself could be considered a brand. Meg is looking for a particular kind of coffee and she doesn't see it there. The stocker says, “It looks like we’re out of stock.” “To be out of stock” means not to have available for sale something that you normally sell. Normally, they sell this kind of coffee, but everyone came in and bought it, and now they don't have any more. They're out of stock. “Stock,” I should say, refers to the things that the store sells. The opposite of out of stock is “in stock.” “Do you have this in stock?” That means “Do you have that item available for sale?”

The coffee Meg wants is out of stock. The stocker tells her though that they should get another shipment next week. A “shipment” (shipment) is when you get a large group of something delivered to your house or more typically, to your business – in this case, to the supermarket. Maybe every day they'll get a new shipment of vegetables, boxes of vegetables that will come in and they will sell. That's a shipment.

Meg says, “Okay, I'll check back.” “To check back” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to come back at a later time to see if you have it. “I'll check back next week” means I will come back next week and see if you have it. Meg says, “I'm also looking for the Fructose brand soda but I don't see it in the soda aisle.” The stocker says, “I'm afraid” – I'm sorry to tell you – “that's been discontinued.” “To discontinue” something is to no longer make it available, perhaps because it isn't very popular. Or maybe it was just too expensive for the store to buy and sell – “to discontinue,” to stop making something available.

The stocker says the “parent company” of the brand that Meg wants “no longer makes soda.” A “parent company” is a large company that owns usually smaller divisions or smaller sections of their company that make different kinds of products. The parent company is the company that is in charge of all the other small companies, or in this case, divisions of that company. Meg says, “Really? I love Fructose soda.” She's disappointed. Then she asks, “How about the Mushy Bran bread?” “How about” means “Do you have,” in this case, “the Mushy brand bread.” These are not, I should say, real brands that you will find in an American supermarket.

Meg says, “I didn't see the Mushy brand bread when I checked the bread aisle.” The stocker says, “We no longer stock the Mushy brand.” Here, notice “stock” is used as a verb, meaning to make available, to carry, to keep something available to sell. The stocker is saying the supermarket no longer stocks this brand. It is no longer available.

The company is still making that bread but this supermarket no longer stocks it. He says, “There were some quality control issues at the company so we pulled all of our products from the shelves.”

“Quality control” refers to the process, the steps that a company has to make sure that what they make is good quality, is what it is supposed to be. The stocker says this company had some quality control issues. He really means “problems.” So, the supermarket pulled their products. “To pull” here means to stop selling something to your customers, to no longer make it available for sale. That's what the stocker means here when he says that “We've pulled all their products.” He says, “We’ve pulled all their products from the shelves.”

“Shelves” is the plural of “shelf” (shelf). A “shelf,” as I mentioned earlier, is a place where the food is put so that you can see it, and take it, and buy it. That's a shelf. It's a place where you place things, you put things either for someone to buy or simply to keep them there. Shelves usually have three or four different sections in a grocery store and each section has a space in between it so that you can put the products there.

The stocker says, “Can I help you find anything else?” Meg says, “No. I guess I'll just have to try some new brands. Oh yes, do you carry Worm organic apples?” “To carry” here means to sell in your store, to have in stock or to normally have in stock. Something that you normally sell is something that you carry. Meg is asking if the supermarket carries a certain kind of organic apple. “Organic” (organic) refers to food that is grown without any artificial or extra chemicals. Organic food is very popular now in certain parts of the United States and other countries, of course.

The stockers says, “We normally do” – we normally do have these kinds of apples in stock – “but they're out of season right now.” “To be out of season” means that this particular food is not being grown or is not available in a certain area. If you only want to buy food that is grown from your local area, from your area where you live, there'll be parts of the year when certain kinds of food is not available because it's not being grown in that area at that time.

In Minnesota, for example, where it’s very cold, you can't get any fresh vegetables during the wintertime because they're not able to grow the food at that time. Of course, you can get vegetables. You can get them from other parts of the country or other parts of the world and that's exactly what we do, but if you only want to buy them from a certain area, it's likely that that area, at some point during the year, will not have that food available and therefore it will be “out of season.”

The stocker says, “We won't have any of these apples until early summer.” Meg says, “All of this shopping and I have nothing to show for it.” The expression “to have nothing to show for it” means “I've done a lot of work but I don't have any results. I don't have what I wanted to have.” Meg says, “I guess I'm going home empty-handed.” “To be empty (empty) - handed (handed)” means you don't have anything. Literally, you don't have anything in your hands. Your hands are empty. “To go home empty-handed” means to go home without have purchased or bought anything.

The stocker says, “We do have chocolate cakes and cookies on sale.” The stocker is telling Meg that even though they don't have these other kinds of food, they still have cakes and cookies. Meg gets excited and says, “I'm there.” “I'm there” is a phrase that we use informally to show that you plan on doing something and that you are very excited about it. Someone may say, “Oh, the new Star Wars movie is coming out next year.” And you say, “Oh, I’m there,” meaning I am definitely going to be there.

I probably will not be there, but that's how we would use that particular expression.

Now let’s listen to the dialog this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialog]

Stocker: Can I help you find something?

Meg: Yes, I’m looking for coffee.

Stocker: That’s on aisle 3. Let me show you where it is.

Meg: Thanks. Hmm, I don’t see the Jitters brand that I normally buy.

Stocker: It looks like we’re out of stock. We should get another shipment next week.

Meg: Okay, I’ll check back. I’m also looking for the Fructose brand soda, but I didn’t see it in the soda aisle.

Stocker: I’m afraid that’s been discontinued. Their parent company no longer makes soda.

Meg: Really? I love Fructose soda. How about the Mushy brand bread? I didn’t see it when I checked the bread aisle.

Stocker: We no longer stock the Mushy brand. There were so quality control issues at the company, so we’ve pulled all of their products from the shelves. Can I help you find anything else?

Meg: No, I guess I’ll just have to try some new brands. Oh, yes, do you carry Worm organic apples?

Stocker: We normally do, but they’re out of season right now. We won’t have any until early summer.

Meg: All of this shopping and I have nothing to show for it. I guess I’m going home empty-handed.

Stocker: We do have chocolate cakes and cookies on sale.

Meg: I’m there!

[end of dialog]

Good scripts are never out of season here at ESL Podcast. We always have them in stock because they're grown by the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
stocker – a person whose job is to put products on the shelves and on display where shoppers can reach them, especially in a grocery store or a discount store

* The store usually has one or two stockers working during the day, but more stockers work at night when there are fewer shoppers.

aisle – one of several passages, almost like hallways, between the items that are for sale, usually wide enough for two shopping carts

* Peanut butter and jams are in aisle 7.

brand – the name given to a particular product (or related products) sold by a specific company

* Some people pay more to buy their favorite brand, but Jennifer just buys whichever brand is least expensive.

out of stock – not available for sale because all the items have been sold

* In the days before the storm, so many people bought emergency supplies like bottled water and flashlights that most of the stores were out of stock

shipment – a large number of products that are transported together and sent or received at the same time

* We should get a new shipment of books on Thursday.

to check back – to return at a future time to ask the same question again or to see whether something that one is waiting for has happened yet

* Your order hasn’t arrived yet, but please check back tomorrow.

discontinued – no longer available, especially because something is no longer being produced or manufactured

* When Sheila heard that her favorite lipstick was being discontinued, she bought as many tubes of it as she could find.

parent company – a company that owns and operates one or more smaller companies

* Job applicants have to indicate whether any of the relatives work for this company or its parent company.

to stock – to keep something in one’s inventory and make it available for sale to customers

* Grocery stores have to stock a lot of turkey and jars of gravy in November, because those are popular foods for Thanksgiving.

quality control – the process of making sure the products being manufactured meet certain standards for performance and appearance

* This radio doesn’t work at all. Isn’t anyone responsible for quality control at the factory?

to pull – to decide to stop selling something and remove it from the store so that it is no longer displayed to customers

* When scientists found dangerous bacteria in ground beef, thousands of stores across the country pulled hamburger from their meat cases.

shelf – one of many flat surfaces that are attached to a wall or a wooden or metal frame to store and/or display objects

* In grocery stores, the most expensive items are usually at eye level, and less expensive items are found on bottom shelves.

to carry – to have something in stock (inventory) and make it available for sale to customers

* Very few stores in the United States carry rabbit meat.

organic – referring to food that is grown or produced without any artificial chemicals

* Is organic food any healthier than food grown with pesticides?

out of season – not grown in the local area at the current time of year (for example, used to describe a winter vegetable during the summer months)

* Peaches are Edgar’s favorite fruit, but they’re out of season during most of the year.

to have nothing to show for it – to not receive any of the intended results from one’s actions or efforts; to be unsuccessful; to be unable to show one’s progress

* With four little kids in the house, sometimes we clean all day and have nothing to show for it!

empty-handed – without anything; without getting what one had expected

* We can’t go to their house empty-handed. We have to buy a gift for the hostess.

I’m there – a phrase used to show that one plans to do something and is enthusiastic and excited to participate

* A: We’re having a party at our house next Saturday. Do you want to come?

B: I’m there!

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these products will the store continue to sell?
a) Jitters coffee.
b) Fructose soda.
c) Mushy bread.

2. What does Meg mean when she says, “I guess I’m going home empty-handed”?
a) She won’t buy anything.
b) She won’t have any money left.
c) She won’t be able to drive home.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to check back

The phrase “to check back,” in this podcast, means to return at a future time to ask the same question again or to see whether something that one is waiting for has happened yet: “I haven’t had time to write your letter of recommendation yet, but check back tomorrow.” The phrase “to check in” means to let someone know that one has arrived: “Please check in with the receptionist when you arrive for your appointment.” The phrase “to check out” means to borrow a book or other materials from the library: “You can check out these books for three weeks.” The phrase “to check out” can also mean to look at something interesting: “Check out that painting! Isn’t it beautiful?” Finally, the phrase “to check off” means to cross something off of a list because one has completed it: “Peter was able to check off a lot of chores today.”

to stock

In this podcast, the verb “to stock” means to keep something in one’s inventory and make it available for sale to customers: “The toy store stocks a lot of trains, cars, and balls, but very few dolls.” The verb “to stock” also means to fill something, especially a refrigerator: “If you want to be healthier, try to stock your fridge with lots of fruits and vegetables.” The phrase “to stock up” means to buy a lot of something and store it for future use: “Helena stocks up on deodorant and toothpaste whenever it goes on sale.” Finally, the phrase “to take stock of (something)” means to assess or evaluate something, often to decide what one wants to do next: “Let’s take stock of our progress so far and then determine our next steps.”

Culture Note
Supermarket Loyalty Programs

Many “supermarkets” (large grocery store) have “loyalty programs,” or programs that encourage customers to shop many times at the same store. They have these programs because they want to “keep the customer’s business” (not have the customer shop at other stores).

Shoppers can sign up for most loyalty programs for free. They receive a small card or a “keychain tag” (a small piece of plastic that attaches to the ring that holds one’s keys) with a small “barcode” (UPC label; a group of black lines that are read electronically). When shoppers “check out” (pay for purchases), they receive “discounts” (lower-than-usual) prices on certain items. In exchange, the store receives detailed information about customers’ “shopping habits” (where and when one shops, and what one buys).

Some loyalty programs are “going a step further” (making something more elaborate) by offering “customized” (personalized; changed to meet the needs of one person) discounts to individual customers. For example, customers might receive discounts on new products that are similar to products they have purchased in the past.

Other loyalty programs use a “point-based system,” possibly offering the customer one point for every $1 spent in the store. Once the customer “accumulates” (gathers) enough points, they can be exchanged for certain rewards or a special discount on a future shopping trip. Sometimes the points can be exchanged for discounts on gasoline. And some points-based loyalty programs are “tied to” (connected to) “frequent flyer programs,” so that shoppers can earn miles toward their next trip by “purchasing” (buying) groceries at a particular store.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - a