Thursday, April 17, 2008

How Long Can I go without shopping at Wal-Mart?

I loathe Wal-Mart. I loathe just about everything about it. I don't like that you go there with a list of 3 things & come out with 20 or more. I don't like that they take over a town & just about every small town store that serviced people before goes out of business around them. I don't like that, like in the commercials, there is never anyone to help you and if you do by chance find someone, they don't know how to help you. The people, the parking, I could go on and on and on. My most recent experience went something like this.....

Since my mom doesn't live with us anymore, I have to get creative about when I can go shopping in a hurry on my own. So, Mark had gotten home later than usual from work, I scarfed down dinner & blew him a kiss as I dumped the kids in his lap and set out to buy formula and milk, which we desperately needed at this point. The babies had drank their last bottles and I had about 2 hours before things were going to get hairy.

So, after much debate, I choose to go to Wal-Mart because they stay open late and GameStop was right beside them and I needed to go there too. So, I go into Wal-Mart, grab a cart, dodge all the people standing in the express lane which is right by the door as you're trying to come into the store. I'm on a mission. Formula. Way in the back. This is the other thing I hate, having to walk so far for the one thing that I need to get. Lucky me, milk and eggs (which we also need) are way in the back too. I zoom my cart to the rear of the store and my mouth drops as I view 4 entirely EMPTY shelves of formula.

Not a can in sight. No where. WHAT?!?!?!? How can this be?!?!?! What has happened?!?!?!?! Where is all the BABY FORMULA? My next thought, what are other people doing, don't other people need formula? Why aren't there more people just standing around looking bewildered at this problem?

My next thought: Find a Friendly Wal-Mart Associate. Oh there she is, nice looking girl, on her way to the stockroom right beside the baby area.

"Miss, do you happen to know why you don't have any baby formula at all? None? Where has it all gone?" - I say very sweetly but with a touch of despair.

"I don't know! Come back at midnight, that's when they stock stuff," she says, blasting through that image I had of a nice, friendly, helpful Wal-Mart associate like they are on TV. Come back at midnight? Is she kidding me? Really? Did I just hear her say that and with that tone? And then she doesn' t even give me a second look and storms into the stockroom.

Okay, so maybe she had a bad day at work. Maybe, secretly, she hates Wal-Mart too and hates working there but it's the only job she can find and they're always open so she's guaranteed hours. I'm trying to be open minded. So, I choose to be mad at Wal-Mart, not the girl in particular, becuase maybe working there has hardened her, made her like that, what do I know?

So, I take the milk, eggs and baby cereal I already put in my cart and quicly put them all back and storm out of the store, muttering under my breath the entire time. I'm not going to buy stuff from a store that urks me so and I'm certainly not going to stand in line with everyone else only to get half of what I needed in the first place!! After my quick stop into GameStop, I'm down about an hour now & only have an hour left at 9:00 at night to find another store that's open.

See, we live in Vine Grove, a very small town, close to Radcliff, which isn't much bigger. We don't have a Kroger or a Safeway or an Albertson's that I know would be open later at night too. I just pray the Food Lion that is close to our house stays open after 9:00 and I pray the epidemic hasn't hit them and they too have no formula.

I see a cart boy outside, I pull up in a hurry and sweetly, once again, I always try to be kind to strangers, as a general rule..........."How late do you stay open?"

"11:00 pm, ma'am."

"That's FANTASTIC! Thank you."

"Well, you're quite welcome."

I'm already thrilled about how this is going. So, I go inside, grab a cart which is very old style, but I love it. The cart is high. I don't have to reach over to put things in or take things out, they're right at my height. I go to find milk, eggs, baby cereal. I'm leaving the formula for last out of fear. I walk down the aisle, I'm looking, I'm looking. NO FORMULA! What?!?!? Is this just a really, really, really bad dream? And as I'm standing there wondering what in the world I'm going to do next, a manager, A MANAGER with a nametag & a SMILE walks by & says ever so sweetly (my kind of man), "How can I help you young lady?"

Young lady! Did he really just say that? Young lady! WOW! This could turn out okay after all....

"I am desperate for baby formula. Do you happen to have some somewhere else in your store?"

"Why, of course! We keep it all up front & when you go to the register, just let the cashier know what kind you need and how much and she'll bring it right out to you."

"What? Are you kidding me? I just tell you what I need and you just bring it to me?" I'm thrilled about this because it's always quite a chore buying 20+ cans of formula, counting them out, putting them into the cart, taking them out at the register, you know the drill.

"Why thank you sir. You have saved the day!"

"You're very welcome. Please come back again soon."

"You better believe I will!" I shout as I race for the cash register. This is going too well, I want to get out of the store while it's still good and I can go home happy!!

I check out and as they are ringing up the formula, the register starts spitting out all these coupons. See, I get a lot of formula at one time so for every (x) number of cans, it not only gave me a $3.00 coupon to use on ANYTHING in the store on my next visit, but it also spit out a $3.00 off coupon for formula on my next visit and when all was said and done, I ended up with over $20.00 to use in the store and 6 coupons for $3.00 off formula when I buy it again.

So, I'm feeling friendly and happy and I share my story with the cashier about what happened at Wal-Mart and come to find out she has lived in Vine Grove all her life and in the past 5 years, she has not shopped at Wal-Mart one time and she says she has been living just wonderfully without it.

Can I do that? Can I really take on such a challenge? I think I can!!! It will require me to get creative. It will require me to do without. It will probably save me money. It will save me gas. Because when I thought about it, I have stores close to me that have the same things Wal-Mart has for just a few cents more, but I didn't have to drive far to get them so I'm probably coming out even. They still take my coupons. They are nicer to me and they are small town folk. I don't have to walk very far to get what I need and I, 9 times out of ten, got only what I needed on my list instead of 20 things I didn't really need. So, I've saved myself even more dough and even more clutter in my house. This could be quite the learning experience. So, let's just see how long I can go without shopping at Wal-Mart.


Chandi said...

I share your distaste for Walmart. I get exasperated shopping there. In fact, I don't anymore either. It is so much easier and faster for me to just go to Smiths or Lee's. Not to mention stress-free. My number one thing is the parking lot. I seriously hate the parking lots. Plus, you are right. It takes you an hour in Walmart what it would take you 20 minutes somewhere else. I do think there are some very valuable things about Walmart and the reasoning behind some of what they do makes sense to me. Still, I don't shop there.

Sybil said...

I am not a Walmart fan either, even though most of my money seems to go there!

mom/caryn said...

It's the dang parking lots! Crud, if you live within a three block radius, you'd be better off walking from home than looking for a place to park your car in their lot. I don't have a very high tolerance level for driving up and down over-crowded aisles with cars parked all willi every direction. Especailly in ice and snow!

They do have a liberal return policy, and they've done some really cool things for me in the past...

BUT... on the whole, I don't enjoy shopping there, either. And I agree... finding a sales associate who knows anything other than what day to pick up their paycheck is a crap shoot. Even finding one who'll look you in the eye and smile is getting harder. But, then... I've noticed the frozen face syndrome seems to have hit service people just about everywhere.

Glad to hear you have a good mom and pop store with some home grown people offering up some old fashioned courtesy, friendliness and quality service. That's worth paying a couple extra bucks for in my mind!

Hornes said...

Steve went to Food Lion when we needed something in a pinch and also had very good, friendly service!!

Anonymous said...

This was a fun story to read of yours! I seem to shop at Walmart a lot, because I can usually find what I need there. But the Walmart near me is dirty and gross...and I NEVER ask for help. I know what you mean by people not knowing anything. The place that really drives me crazy is Hobby Lobby. What are clueless people doing working at a craft store?!