Monday, September 20, 2010

A Whole New Walmart

Walmart store 4488 has a new, improved look. They are calling it a mini-super because it has a substantial grocery section (including fresh produce), but it doesn't quite cover everything. I must admit, I am not a huge fan of Walmart. It's not that I carry a personal vice against the largest majority private employer in the United States. I simply prefer Target as my box store. But, truth be told, I was actually excited when the announcement was made that the mass merchandiser would be moving into my neighborhood. I am all for micro-businesses, definitely preferring organic, locally grown, responsibly managed outfitters who care about all the "right" things. But let's face it, a mom of seven needs a little Walmart once in a while. So, when the home we purchased happened to be 1 mile from the store I was looking at the proximity as a good thing.

That proximity is proving to be useless.

First it was the several months of inconvenience related to the total store makeover. Now, let me clarify my annoyance before you think I am a complainer simply because I had to learn to go to a different part of the store to get that quick gallon of milk. Yes, I had to go to a different part of the store to get my milk. In fact, I had to ask directions every trip I took because the milk, diapers, baby food, pasta and vacuum cleaner bags were always in a different place. Always. Then, there was the frustration associated with Walmart's need to downsize stock in order to make moving merchandise easier. Need oven cleaner? Oops, sorry. We sold out, and aren't ordering any more until the store is completed. And don't try to find nonfat milk, either. That's gone, too.

I worked to roll with the punches. After all, I was being promised that the end would be a newer, better shopping experience. I grew up in retail. My family owned their own business for over 50 years. I can appreciate the need to occasionally make some mess in order to ultimately provide a better product. Unfortunately, my mom doesn't own Walmart.

Well, the newer, better shopping experience began about a month ago. I even picked up a flyer Walmart made especially for the occasion. It contained a map, and a few explanations for some of the changes.

What a piece of propaganda.

Here are a few excerpts from the pamphlet:

Where convenience is everything.
     We've always brought you the lowest possible prices. Now we've added more of the products you buy most often - all in one location. Why? So you can save even more time and money.

I realized upon my first newer, better shopping experience that the "products you buy most often" are not the products that I buy most often. Rows upon rows of frozen convenience items, chips and soda were added but try and find a can of chili beans and you are outta luck. In fact, I had no idea there were so many prepackaged, sodium laden, frozen food choices. 

Simplified Shopping
     Less clutter and clearer aisles make it easier to find just what you're looking for.

At first glance this sentence makes it appear as though Walmart did a total reorganization from their previous store model. In actuality, they simply moved the pallets and cleared the final debris from their months long remodeling project. Then there is the irony that the new store lacks clear signage to guide you in your quest for their "easier to find" products. I recently went looking for coffee for my hubby and finally found it down the "Cookie" aisle next to the small "Tea" subsection. Nothing noted coffee anywhere. I didn't realize coffee was such a speciality item, and not in need of its own sign because of the small number of people purchasing it. After all, don't you see everyone going into Walmart to buy 5 gallon drums of ground tea? I need to note, for my hubby's benefit, that he was not asking me to purchase him one of those 5 gallon drums of ground coffee. He can't stand pre-ground coffee. He was getting ready for a business trip, and needed a few of those Starbucks Via packages.

Lastly, we have my favorite:

Smart Choices
     We've simplified our assortment to help make your shopping easier. All so you can save money and live better.

This is where the rubber hits the road. Remember in the beginning when I acknowledged that a mother of seven occasionally needs a little Walmart? Things like diapers, lotion, and eye drops are nice to grab a mere 3 minutes away from home. And I must admit, my choices have definitely been simplified. There isn't much guess work to be had between no baby food and... no baby food. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration. But seriously, it's WALMART for crying out loud. Isn't that where you should expect to find a plethora of baby food choices, diaper sizes and styles, cleaning supplies, and all manner of health and beauty selections? I have one, maybe two options to chose from in order to allow mass amounts of square footage to be devoted to Pancho's Pizza Packages in cheese, pepperoni, sausage, combo, vegetarian, and seven other extra high cholesterol varieties.

It's time for me to go back to Target.


  1. Anonymous8:27 PM

    ah...A woman after my own heart...I don't have a Target within 50 miles of my home...but I have 2 Walmarts...I dread having to go.

  2. Anonymous9:50 PM

    This same thing happened at our Walmart, and now all the packaging at eye level is white. You know, the Great Value brand. Good luck finding anything else. Sorry for your bad experience. ~Anita Mackey