The priorities of the Harris Teeter in Carrboro are a little out of whack.
The store keeps its condoms behind the customer service desk, so customers have to ask an employee for assistance to purchase them.
There’s something terribly wrong with that.
I’d heard rumors that condoms are where they are because they’re a “high-theft item.”
So when I decided to look into the issue further, I thought it might be a fruitless search. It’s tough to argue with corporate measures combating petty larceny.
But Scott Riley, store director of the Carrboro location, soon helped me realize that sticky fingers aren’t the problem.
“They’re not a high-theft item,” he said. “There’s tons of high-theft items in a supermarket.”
I was racked with suspense.
“There’s not enough room for them on the floor,” Riley said, adding that Harris Teeter’s corporate offices in Charlotte determine the store’s layout.
That first part sounded a little off to me, too.
It’s not right that people should feel like they must ask for permission to buy a product that helps protect them from unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancies.
Embarrassed kids with raging hormones won’t risk seeing parents or teachers while they’re buying condoms. Having space constraints is no excuse. And I don’t buy that it’s the real one.
However, Riley said Harris Teeter does offer travel-size packages of condoms on the floor.
I went to aisle eight to see for myself. It took me almost five minutes to find them.
On the very top shelf, above the maxi pads and bordered by feminine cooling wipes and deodorant spray, laying flat and almost invisible on the shelf, was one package of two Trojan 2Go Ultra Thin Condoms.
When it’s 2 a.m., and people have to choose between scrounging through shelves and not using condoms at all, they might not make the right choice.
But despite the meager stock, I thought perhaps it was a glimmer of corporate responsibility shining through. My hopes were dashed by a surprisingly candid moment of honesty.
“The only reason they’re out there is because we offer a travel section,” Riley said.
Jennifer Thompson, director of communication at Harris Teeter’s corporate office in Charlotte, confirmed that the store doesn’t have space to put all the varieties of condoms on the floor.
“A schematic plan is developed by Harris Teeter corporate office, but the store has the ability to adjust the plan to better serve their customer base,” Thompson stated in an e-mail.
I’m no expert on commercial layout, but I suggest that Harris Teeter revisit its schematic plan as soon as possible.
Because on the same aisle as the modest selection of condoms, there’s quite a bit of room.
There is about a 5 feet by 5 feet section of shoe insoles, toe spacers and callus cushions.
There is an even bigger section of socks and nylon knee-highs.
There is “Boil Ease” for “fast relief from the pain of boils.”
As sympathetic as I am toward those plagued with the evils of sore feet, infected hair follicles and runs in their stockings, I’m more concerned about those with unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
And Harris Teeter should be, too.
Abbey Caldwell is a senior journalism and international studies major from Charlotte. Contact Abbey at firstname.lastname@example.org