Up Against the Wal-Mart
I would normally go to Target, which may not be a whole lot better than Wal-Mart, but I can shop there without feeling quite so bad about myself. The Target, unfortunately, is 15 miles away. The new Wal-Mart is 3 miles away. Gas is $3.83/gallon at the moment and we were at that point in the gas budget where 24 extra miles would make a huge difference.
|It looks a bit like a zombie invasion.|
So in spite of my social anxiety kicking into high gear as soon as I turned into the parking lot, I gathered my courage and my children and made my way through the mess of huge pick-up trucks and SUVs angling for the good spots.
First impression upon walking into the store: it is GINORMOUS! In my opinion, Wal-Marts are too big anyway, but this one is quite a bit bigger than the other stores in this area. According to the friendly and flirty young man who helped us locate the Pokemon cards, “this store is way more huger than all them other stores in the Upstate”.
I remember when Wal-Mart was a much smaller store, with aisles you could barely fit your cart down and God help you if someone was coming the opposite direction, because someone was going to have to back up. I remember when there was no food for sale at Wal-Mart, in those long past days before the Supercenter reigned King. Somehow the smaller stores seemed more personal, less greedy and commercial.
I understand the concept of the “One Stop Shop”, and call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like it. I would much prefer to buy my groceries at a grocery store, then swing by the auto parts store for windshield wiper fluid, run into the pet store for Greenies, then hit the Best Buy to peruse the iPods and the televisions (another concept that has gotten too big for its britches, in my humble opinion). If I need gas, I will find a gas station on the way home.
Sure, I could run to Wal-Mart and spend 5 hours there buying everything on my list, and then some, but by doing so, I don’t feel as though I’m supporting my community and the multitude of stores within it. I feel like I am doing exactly what “they” want me to do, walking zombie-like around 184,000 square feet of bright lights, rollback signs and the dregs of society (and I can say that, because I have family, both past and present, who work there).
You see, the size of the store is the trap. You make a list of the five things that you must buy today: bread, milk, Pokemon cards, windshield wiper fluid and toilet paper. You walk with purpose into Wal-Mart, expecting that “this won’t take long”. Hours later, you emerge, dazed and a little shell-shocked, to find yourself pushing a full cart of buy-1-get-1-free foodstuffs, DVDs, school supplies, toys and clearance holiday items that were a really great deal, though you probably won’t be able to find them in 11.5 months when you need them.
It isn’t until you are home, and all of your purchases have been put away neatly, to be forgotten because they weren’t really necessary in the first place, that you realize you forgot to buy toilet paper. Eesh.
I digress. I’ve been one of those crazy buy-everything-in-sight-because-its-a-good-deal people. I feel their pain, and it’s just one of the many reasons why I avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. I gave in on one of my personal don’ts, and I’m glad I did, for the sake of the child who HAD to have those Pokemon cards RIGHT NOW so that she could trade with so-and-so for his metallic Zebstrika card.
I mean, I get that, it was obviously important.
But I’m just saying, next time we’ll wait until payday and go to Target. Target has less-slutty little girls’ clothing, prettier jewelry and awesome sheet sets. At least at Target, I feel like I’m with a better class of people-buying-too-much-stuff.