Over the last few months, I’ve found myself going to Wal-Mart more and more for a variety of different items. This post may sound like a ringing endorsement of Wal-Mart over other stores in the market and while I do think that Wal-Mart beats much of the competition, understand that I shop at a wide variety of stores. So let’s get to the point…
My local Wal-Mart has a small grocery section where I can buy extremely inexpensive canned and boxed goods as well as some cold items like cheese for sandwiches and grated cheese for pasta. Despite the lower prices, the quality is as good as much of the other food stock available out there – in fact, I’d put Wal-Mart’s canned corn up against any of the major canned brands. It’s really good!
Then Wal-Mart has the clothing section. Losing 85 pounds over the last few months has allowed me to shift away from only being able to shop at the Casual Male XL stores and back into mainstream stores like Old Navy, GAP, and the outlet stores. But Wal-Mart beats all of these places in terms of pricing. I can spend $35 – $50 buying a pair of jeans at Old Navy or I can spend $15 to get a similar pair of jeans at Wal-Mart. Again, the quality is not in question (although the belt loops on every single one of my Old Navy jeans have snapped at one point or another). Wal-Mart sells a few brands of jeans including the Wrangler brand, which has undergone a transformation since the last time I wore their jeans more than a decade ago.
I purchased a new leather belt at Wal-Mart the other day. It cost me about $14. The same belt at an online retailer cost between $30 and $44 without including shipping. How can you not buy the damn belt at Wal-Mart for those prices?!
My local Wal-Mart has a large seasonal/holiday section and a decent sized household/homewares area, too. In the last year I’ve purchased pillowcases, cleaning detergent, luxury washcloths, a pedometer, DVDs, books, magazines, a bar stool, and even a car battery from Wal-Mart. Those who know me know that I’ve always been a critical shopper and that I go to great lengths to be sure that I’m getting the best quality item at the best possible price. Every single item that I named above (and countless others) are all for sale at Wal-Mart at prices that beat the competition.
Yes, I know that some people have a problem with the corporate structure at Wal-Mart and they claim that it destroys local businesses while others have a problem with their non-union workforce. I understand those concerns and, in some areas, I may agree with the issues raised by malcontents. On the other hand, Wal-Mart has been a corporate leader in the environmentally-friendly movement to the surprise of many. Plus, they bring jobs to populations (geographic and physical) that may not otherwise be employed. This is to be commended.
All of this being said, there are times when I walk into the Wal-Mart, retrieve certain items for purchase, and see that there are 2 cashiers on duty each with 15 people in line. At that point, I always put down my items and leave the store. Good prices on good quality items does not give a store the right to make their customers wait in obscenely long and unnecessary lines. Big box places like Wal-Mart and Home Depot have grown too dependent on the self-checkout lines, which I’ve blogged about in this space before.
To reiterate my first point above, I hate to sound like a cheerleader for any major corporation, but I’m a fan of shopping at Wal-Mart…for now. I feel obliged to add “for now” to that sentence because I used to be a fan of shopping at Circuit City until their prices skyrocketed. Same goes for Toys R Us and GAP. But for now, I find myself shopping at Wal-Mart for more and more items.