I ran across a post over at Single Guy Money called What I Hate About Wal-Mart, and it inspired me to write a post, but not the one I thought I was going to write when I wrote the first part of this first sentence.
I don’t really have a problem with Wal-Mart. I do agree with Single Guy Money that they sometimes have long lines, rude employees and bad drivers in the parking lot. And sometimes their shoppers seem to be making poor financial choices.
I think, though, that all of those things can be found in most stores. I’ve been in very high end boutiques that employed rude employees. I’ve seen customers complain about long lines at a single register, which was backed up because the woman purchasing about $3000 worth of items had to try seven (seven!) credit cards before she found one that wasn’t maxed out (methinks it’s possible she makes some poor financial choices!). And it’s been my experience that some people who shop at high end stores think the rest of traffic should part to let them pass when they deign to bless us with their presence.
Still, I am one of the few people I know who actually enjoys shopping at Wal-Mart. I always buy toiletries there, as the prices are consistently at least 25% less than the grocery or drug store. Their equate brand toiletry and pharmacy products are terrific, and I was sorely disappointed when they stopped making an equate version of Husband’s Right Guard Sport deodorant.
When it enters my mind that I need to go to the dollar store for something, I’ll look for it at Wal-Mart first and often find it for 88 cents (think party favors, straws, kitchen gadgets). Spray paint and other craft items are less than I can buy them at Michael’s, even with a 40% off coupon.
Their children’s clothes are inexpensive and pretty well made. They now carry the Garanimals line (didn’t Sears used to?), and they wear very well. My son can’t wear Target’s shorts, but Wal-Mart’s fit him well. My sister-in-law just bought a bunch of very adorable outfits for our cousin’s 1-year-old twin girls without taxing her budget.
Their food prices aren’t always the lowest you can find. I will buy cereal there, but their soda is overpriced. I won’t go near their meats or most of their produce.
But they also had brand name cake mixes yesterday for 82 cents apiece, which makes two of theirs fifteen cents cheaper than the one-item price in the Buy One Get One deal I got the other day at Publix. Their frosting was $1 cheaper than Publix, too.
As far as the atmosphere, well, I don’t shop there on the weekends. I’m not one who minds busy stores, though. The aisles are on the small side, but still much better than our local K-Mart, where the checkout aisles are about an inch wider than the carts, and I’m not exaggerating. I see surly employees and surly shoppers, but I’ve also struck up conversations with other Moms in the baby department, and gotten good assistance from harried but helpful electronics and fabric department employees – the only two departments where I’ve ever needed assistance. The Wal-Mart I shop at is pretty clean, so I don’t have to contend with a dirty store.
I understand and respect people’s objections to Wal-Mart’s business and employment practices. As far as I’m concerned vendors wouldn’t do business with Wal-Mart if they weren’t making money, and if Wal-Mart can get it for a better price so I can pay less, well, fine with me.
I can’t speak to how Wal-Mart treats all their employees, but I do know that they hire many disabled people, including my bi-polar Mom. They bent over backwards to help her get through their online employee training (I would almost rather eat poop than try to teach my mother anything computer related), and treated her with dignity and respect during her tenure there.
When I was reading Single Guy Money’s post I was thinking, “You think Wal-Mart is bad? You should see my K-Mart!”, and so when I started writing this post it was going to be called What I Hate About K-Mart, but as I started writing it became this. I’m not trying to talk anyone into liking Wal-Mart if they don’t, after all I don’t even disagree with many of the reasons not to like it.
I do think, though, that it’s politically correct these days to not like Wal-Mart, and I’m just letting those closet Wal-Mart likers know that they aren’t alone.