To the caring employees at Vons in Chatsworth, Calif. — thank you!

Falling bullets/Flickr
Falling bullets/Flickr

Mimi Rosenblatt lives in Los Angeles. She’s unemployed and disabled, having suffered from lung cancer that metastasized to her brain. Even a seemingly simple task like grocery shopping can be a challenge for her.

“I often stand there, looking for something,” she says.

Rosenblatt contacted me recently to let me know about the extraordinarily helpful workers at Vons, a local grocery store chain.

“An employee is always there, not only to tell me where the item is, but to actually take me there,” she says.

“By the time I’ve finished shopping, I’m so exhausted and can barely stand on my feet,” she adds. “Someone not only helps getting my groceries out of the cart but they help me pack up my trunk. When I try to tip them, they tell me it is against policy.”

As I listened to Rosenblatt, I could hear a familiar story. My grandmother, who will turn 95 in August, lives only a short drive from this grocery store. Shopping isn’t easy for her, either. Sometimes she forgets where things are. Sometimes she needs a hand getting out to the car.

It’s altogether possible that the good people who work at this Vons have given her a hand. Maybe they’ve helped someone else’s mother, grandmother, grandfather or brother.

In a me-first society where compassion is often in such short supply, I think that kindness deserves to be recognized. And what I like about Rosenblatt’s story is that her disability wasn’t obvious; she doesn’t wear a shirt that says “I had brain cancer.”

That doesn’t stop the Vons employees from coming to her aid.

For the last three weeks, we’ve been celebrating travel industry employees who went above and beyond the call of duty in a major way, holding a plane, taking a customer’s side in a dispute or helping a disabled passenger board.

But maybe it’s time to salute the everyday heroes like the folks at Vons in Chatsworth, who saw Rosenblatt and stopped what they were doing long enough to point her to the right shelf or to help her to her car without holding their hand out for a tip. Quietly, and in their own way, they’ve gone the extra mile for a customer.

“Thanks to Vons and its amazing employees and managers,” says Rosenblatt.

I’m happy to tip my hat to the folks at Vons for what they’ve done.

If you’ve experienced excellent customer service recently, please let me know about it. We’re recognizing companies who go above and beyond the call of duty in a new weekly feature.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • TonyA_says

    What a beautiful story. Thanks.

  • llandyw

    Check with shoppers at Publix (HQ in FL). They are very helpful there, sometimes it’s a bit much, but I’m sure others appreciate it. I’m just one of those people who like doing things myself, and feel often like I’m taking people away from helping those who need it. The one that Nikki and I go to know who we are by sight, some know the kind of stuff we normally purchase. Not only that, but they have no qualms about hiring disabled persons, both physically and developmentally.

  • Kimber

    Very nice. I frequent the smaller, independent grocery store in my town even though they have higher prices and a smaller selection because of service like this. They will even let older customers call in their list for an employee to gather and deliver. You don’t see that much anymore.

  • Guy M. Guyadeen

    For this reason my family shops at Vons even though none is disabled, however, every so often one of us needs an item that’s not located where we’d expect it to be. Always, there’s a Vons employee close at hand to help out.

  • KaraJones

    Thanks for the nice story. Is it something about the warm weather locations? I also found the employees at Publix in Florida to be extremely helpful and friendly. I never experience that in New York City at Gristedes or D’Agostinos, where they’d just as soon stick out their leg and trip you in the aisle.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    I often travel to Asia and it’s usually the polar opposite. Either staff are so obsequious that they trail you from like 2 feet around the store or they totally ignore you. This is a great story!

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    THANK YOU for publishing this story. Not only does it make me feel good, but it also educates the public that disabilities may not be visible.

  • Joe Farrell

    There is a Vons 3000 feet from my house – thats how they do business everywhere. They may not really know where things are in the store or even if that particular store stocks the item you are looking for – because they are trained to ask the questions and expect a ‘fine’ or ‘no’ answer to 99% of the offers for help, but it is how they are trained! And if you need the help – they’ll find someone who can. Definitely a refreshing business experience. . .

  • betsy514

    Can I just say that I love this new feature? I’ve always been a fan of posting the good as well as the bad customer service experiences so I love that you are celebrating these little acts of kindness

  • Christopher Elliott

    Thank you. I’m going to try to keep this feature going as long as I can. I totally agree with you: Good service deserves to be recognized.

  • Christopher Elliott

    I’m a huge fan of Publix. I love shopping there.

  • brianguy

    most employees at most Vons/Pavilions are very good. can’t say they’re all that way, not by a long shot. but they try… particularly at Pavilions. most of my best experiences have been late in the evening when they’re not as fully staffed but not as busy. I’ve had other times trying to get help and couldn’t, waiting by the customer service desk for anyone at all who knew anyything at all. another time I checked out and then remembered I needed to break a $10 bill for something. I had to go to 3 checkouts and was on the verge begging after nearly 10 minutes and already finishing paying for my groceries. customer service wouldn’t, and one checker flatly refused, said “I already closed my drawer, you’ll have to wait”. little did she know I already had, and gave up on her and waited for another checker to do it. but they’re definitely good at the “do you need help out?” or “have a nice day mr. xxxxx.”

  • Emanuel Levy

    Von’s is not the only supermarket that does this. My mother uses a courtesy scoter in the stores and a walker outside it. When she goes to Shop-Rite an employee will bring the shopping cart out to her car and put the groceries in it for her. They also don’t accept tips because of store policy.

    I feel providing individual service like this and in the story above brings customers back to that store rather than using a shop art home service.