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Do YOU shop more when you are AFRAID? Giant Grocery Stores Team Up With Homeland Security

By flacafina - Posted on 27 December 2010

This past Friday, December 24, 2010, at 8:30am, early enough to miss the merry mayhem and holiday havoc of the last minute gift buying of the wild-eyed and worried-about-my-credit-card-balance-but-gonna-buy-anyway, I went to my neighborhood grocery store in Falls Church, VA to pick up supplies for our peace community’s fundraiser for Iraqi refugees.

Zipping toward the Latino foods to find the coveted corn tortillas, comino and enchilada sauce, with my shopping list in one hand and the basket handle in the other, I tried to forget the glomming-onto-your brain refrain “Santa Claus is coming to town, Santa Claus is coming to town,…” that boomed at you as soon as you hit the automatic doors.

Suddenly something registered out of place. I had just passed the produce, was eying the vine-ripened tomatoes and shiny green avocados on special when I stopped in my tracks. Like a cottontail rabbit hypnotized in the headlights’ glare of a fast approaching vehicle down a country road, I stood still, frozen in my spot not willing to budge for fear the predator would pounce any second. My heart rate shot up. “What the hell was that?” I said to no one in particular.

Recovering from my astonishment and harnessing my anger, I said aloud, “It cannot be!” I had just heard the words “Homeland Security” over the PA system. “Oh my god!” I thought. “I am grocery shopping. I am just grocery shopping!”

I checked my surroundings. Yes, I was still in Giant albeit very near the ethnic foods aisle. Did that matter? I looked around for reaction from others at the top and bottom of the aisle I was near. There were none. Everyone seemed oblivious to the announcement I just heard, frantic only to find cranberries, eggnog and Christmas wrapping paper.

I looked up, searching the ceiling for the nearest security camera and rebuked someone, anyone watching, “For god sakes, can’t I even buy my groceries without worrying about Big Brother watching?” I vowed to file a complaint as soon as the holiday weekend was over for I knew that Giant’s corporate offices would not reopen until Monday at earliest and more realistically I might have to wait until after the New Year to find someone willing to talk to me.

In the interim, I decided to ask a few questions. The next day I called two Giant stores in Arlington, VA and confirmed that some such announcement plays in those stores as well. One store manager had heard something of that nature several times that day but could not say for sure what it was for. The other believed it was a public service announcement for people soon to travel on an airplane. I asked him “Why is Giant playing these psa’s? We just want to buy groceries.” He seemed as perplexed as I, “I’m sorry ma’am but I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Corporate about this. We, at the local level don’t have control over what announcements you hear.”

Today, December 27, 2010 I spoke to a Mr. Miller in Giant’s Maryland corporate office. According to the recording I first got, the public affairs office was headed by a Ruth Anthony who would be out of the office until after January 3rd but if with the media to speak with a Mr. Miller.

Mr. Jamie Miller did take my call. I introduced myself as an independent journalist with and that I was writing a piece about the Homeland Security announcements in grocery stores. I asked him, “Why do your customers hear Homeland Security announcements while grocery shopping?” He was courteous enough while attempting to cover his own astonishment but it was obvious that he too, was unaware just as were the store managers of this new policy. He recovered quickly, though and asked, “Which media outlet did you say you were with?” I told him again, “I write for DC Indymedia and am a blogger with” His repost, “Please send me your questions via email and I will try to get you some answers.” I told him my story would go to print this week and that I hoped to hear back from Giant soon. Below is the text of my email inquiry:

Good morning Mr. Miller,

Thank you for taking my call and your willingness to follow up on my request for more information regarding Homeland Security announcements in your stores. A colleague of mine mentioned that she had heard announcements from the Department of Homeland Security while shopping. To follow this up, I went to the Giant store nearest me on Christmas Eve and heard one as well but with all the business of holiday shoppers I did not understand the announcement except for the words Homeland Security.

As an independent journalist and blogger, I would like to write a piece about these measures. Please be so kind as to ask Corporate these questions:
• What is the exact text of the announcement I heard in the Falls Church store?
• Are the announcements the same in all your stores?
• Are the announcements played in all grocery store chains?
• How frequent do the announcements play?
• Why is Giant allowing these announcements?
• Was Giant complying with some new regulation?
• Does Homeland Security have access to your video cameras as well?
• How long will these go on?
• Is this a new corporate policy?
• Does Corporate think your customers appreciate them?
• Have you received any pushback, complaints or positive responses as a result?
• What happens if a customer reports something? What steps does your staff take?
• Has your staff been trained on this?
• Does your staff agree with this policy?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to these responses as I will be posting a blog and sending out a press advisory as well.

Hopefully we will receive answers to these questions. In the meantime, have you lost your appetite, yet?

Wonder if this is related to Napolitano's "If you see something, say something" campaign.

any store that cows to homeland security is off my shopping list we might not be able to stop the nazies but we can boycot them and they will notice quick. best bet to fight back is dont give them your money. go to your mom and pop store it will help local buisness stay alive that will be the best you can do for your comunity. look for made in america and buy that befor you buy imports that will bring the high price down because the sellers wont have to hold them longer befor a sale happens. when you buy in gross you save when you can sell quik you are more willing to buy in gross and that reduces your price and you can pass it on to the consummers and that will get you closer to chinas prices you are paying at walmart and that would make walmart have to raise their prices to make up for not selling as fast. thats how to stimulate usa buisnesses so they can hire more to keep up on demand. gross national product is what we are missing here. we need new money comming in not circulating old money that is already here and thats the only why to get more money, money dont grow on its own you need to make something to sell, proffets from the sale is growth end nafta put america back to work. start manufactureing and sell that makes more money and jobs and it goes on and on

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