France: Francs Before Fondles

French shoppers are inveterate food feelers—they pinch tomatoes, squeeze head lettuce, pull artichoke leaves, even give cheese a little poke before stashing it in their shopping sacks. Michel Turquet, 46, a former supermarket manager with a technocratic bent, hopes to change all that. If he gets his way, francs will come before fondles.

Turquet owns Super-Marché de Poche, Paris' first computerized grocery store, which in the space-starved city sells 1,700 articles in its 240-sq.-ft. display area. A customer is given a plastic envelope and directed to the shelf space, which bears one sample of each product, plus a pile of...

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