Key Food’s New Self-Service in the East Village

East Village's Key Food

The Self-Service Cash Register at Key Food

It is the dawning of a new age in the East Village. Self-service has come to the Key Food located at the corner of Avenue A and 4th Street. Last weekend, EVP tested the brave new world of self-service and again yesterday with mixed results.

No doubt the fact there was no line – both times – for the do-it-yourself aisle was tantalizing with its four machines ready to expedite your food payment process.

Overseeing the operation is one of the recognizable, former cashiers who will sympathetically help you with the user interface of the new machines, get you out of a tight jam when the machine starts saying that you haven’t paid for something that you’ve put in the bag (But, we’re trying to pay for it!), and overcome the coupon “moment” when it’s time to pay. We haven’t used coupons yet, but the machine keeps thinking we want to.

The big issue here is the bagging. We are still working on our bagging skills and find that it gets a bit confusing when needing more than one bag. Considered by some an EVP motor control issue, we’re determined to overcome this challenge and be better baggers.

Overall, for small hauls, the new self-service is a sweet deal and gets you in and out of Key much more quickly than the queues for the cashier during prime time (which seems like most of the time at Key Food). For anything more than a bag or two worth of booty, though, we think the cashiers are best and not only due to our limited bagging skills, but there also is little room, such as a table, to place your bagged items other than the ground – an unappealing and unsanitary alternative.

Should cashiers worry about their jobs?

Now that self-service has arrived, it’s possible that it could impact jobs available at Key Food. The new self-service takes the place of up to three, former cashier aisles and is “manned” by only one Key Food employee.

Many local females, in particular, have used Key Food as an important source of employment for years. The disastrous murder earlier this year impacted people who have been nothing but helpful – ok, at times, surly but we could care less. Being a cashier can’t be fun. Seeing a new self-service aisle can’t make for a strong feeling of job security, either.

It would seem for shopping carts that are filled to the brim, the work of the cashier will still be needed. When you have that much stuff in the cart, you want someone else managing checkout especially if you have children around. But, there are definitely a few less jobs at Key Food and we can see another self-serve aisle in the future.

Automation and technology create efficiency but they take jobs, too.


July 15th, 2008

Entry Filed under: East Village, New York City


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