As technology progresses and people think up even more creative solutions to common problems, it’s fun watching the mainstays of modern life try to keep up – including the humble grocery store. And while your local mom and pop store might not be able to do much to adapt to the 21st century, there are a handful of stores out there that are definitely forward thinking enough to be living in the future.
20. These blue bags for cold items
Once you’ve spent ages buying groceries, the last thing you want to do is come home and start organizing everything. This grocery store, however, has the solution: colored bags to separate out your frozen goods. Then you can not only put them away quicker, but first, before they start defrosting. Genius.
19. These air-conditioned pet stalls
In an ideal world, you’d be able to go to the grocery store without your dog in tow. But sometimes, you just can’t avoid it. Fortunately, this particular store in Denmark has large, air-conditioned stalls to keep your dog comfortable while you shop, away from other customers and loose groceries.
18. This toilet paper tester
Don’t know which type of toilet paper is right for you (and your behind)? Well, rather than wasting money on too thick – or thin – paper, this Dutch store allows you to take each ply for a test drive. Just don’t ask what the person who can try all six has been eating…
17. This wine-chilling service
Have you ever headed out to a party and picked up a bottle of wine on the way, only to have to present it to your hosts at room temperature? Nobody wants that, which is why this fast chiller is so genius. Indeed, it only takes a few minutes to make you look like you were actually prepared.
16. This after-hours meat vending machine
Let’s face it: for the carnivores among us, meat cravings can strike at any time of day. So if you’re pining for a midnight meat feast, this vending machine must be an absolute godsend. After all, waiting until the market actually opens is so 20th century.
15. These carts with magnifying lenses
Sometimes, manufacturers print their ingredients lists in fonts only visible to ants. So you never really know which mystery meat comprises your tin of hot dogs. Unless, that is, you’re shopping at this grocery store, which has built-in magnifying lenses on its shopping carts. Finally, a win for the consumer over corporations.
14. This aisle map
Rather than wandering around aimlessly for hours in search of that one item left on your shopping list, this map points you in exactly the right direction. Frankly, this seems like the brainchild of a server tired of forever telling people where to find things, but whatever the truth of that, we’re not complaining.
13. This smart cart
If plain, printed maps are too retro for you, though, there’s always the smart cart option. Yes, this shopping cart has a built-in tablet, so you can search for exactly the item you need. And not only will it give you the correct aisle, but even the shelf to look for.
12. These containers of Lucky Charms marshmallows
This Kentucky-based grocery store has clearly walked the path to enlightenment. After all, it knows exactly what its shoppers are after when they buy boxes of Lucky Charms. Yes, it’s not the bland hoops, but the marshmallows that really delight our taste buds in the morning. This just cuts straight to the good stuff.
11. These pick-your-own mushrooms
Living in the future doesn’t always mean everything has to be so high-tech. In fact, this awesome grocery store has gone completely the other way by bringing nature inside. Yes, rather than relying on mushrooms picked and packed by faceless employees, you can be sure of their source by picking them yourself.
10. These bacon samples
Is there any better way to guarantee customers in your store than by giving out free bacon? If there is, we don’t want to hear about it. Mainly because we’re too busy eating all this free bacon. Really, we’ve no idea why you’d need to sample bacon – who hasn’t tried it? – but we’re not complaining at all.
9. This dance tutorial
Not only does this ingenious tutorial give you something to do while waiting in the queue for your prescription, it also ensures people give each other privacy by waiting a reasonable distance away. Really, we don’t know how nobody thought of it earlier. And we bet you’re trying it right now…
8. These digital price tags
Prices you can adjust on the fly? No need for wasting paper on forever changing printed price tickets? This really must be the future. To be honest, this seems like such an obvious idea that we’re surprised it isn’t more widespread, at least in larger, chain grocery stores.
7. This free fruit for kids
If there’s one way to encourage kids to eat healthier – and parents to feed their children healthy food – it’s by making it free. And with a banana to keep them occupied while you shop, the kids will be less likely to grasp for every brightly colored item they see. Really, it’s an ingenious idea.
6. These tags for broken carts
Everyone who’s ever been to a grocery store knows the pain of accidentally choosing a cart with a busted wheel. And while this solution may not be able to help you in the moment, it can prevent it happening to someone else – or you, in the future.
5. These discounted, misshapen vegetables
Just because vegetables may be bent a little out of shape doesn’t mean they’re inedible. But still, we always tend to go for the best-looking veg when grocery shopping. By discounting those more unsightly vegetables then, this grocery store is ensuring that nothing goes to waste.
4. This rack for changing your mind
Occasionally, you’ll pop something in your shopping cart only to realize that you don’t want it after all. Rather than shoving it on some random shelf, however, this grocery store gives you a specific location to toss those unwanted items. No doubt it makes the employees’ lives far, far easier.
3. This trash display
Just so you know exactly what should be placed in the trash, this grocery store has a helpful display. Really, we’re not entirely sure people need reminding what constitutes trash, but we’ve been known to overestimate humanity once or twice before. This grocery store is clearly taking no risks.
2. These repackaged eggs
Are eggs the most fragile thing on sale in a grocery store? Quite possibly, which is why it’s no surprise that some of them get broken from time to time. Rather than throw out the entire carton though, this store simply repackages the unbroken eggs, and sells them at a discount.
1. These cocktails-to-go
When you’re on the move – say, on the way to a party or a club – then mixing spirits can be a hassle. Unless, that is, they come prepackaged with soda. Yes, it’s the solution you never knew you needed, but undoubtedly now wish you had access to. If only all grocery stores were this inventive.