Hot start to season, except Wal-Mart – Holiday Season ’06

The only thing worse than not knowing your customers is not knowing who you want your customers to be. This quote, from an MSNBC article (link below) says a lot:

Wal-Mart has struggled for months to appeal to both higher-income shoppers and low-price fans.

Walmart cannot have it both ways. Sure – there is a middle ground, but Walmart doesn’t appear as if that’s what they are targeting.

There are no K-Mart stores in South Texas anymore. They couldn’t compete because they had a mixed target – they tried to lure the low-income shoppers and the middle to upper-middle class customer at the same time. To keep things appealing to the middle class, prices rose too high for low income.

So it would be easy to blame Walmart’s woes on a temporary misunderstanding of their target audience. It would be easy, but it would be wrong. There are several reasons I don’t shop at Walmart:

    • They have a horrible track record for how they treat employees.
    • They have one helpful and friendly person working in each store – too bad they are the person that greets you and hands you a cart, and not the only person in the store (that nobody can find) that has the keys to the Video Game case – or the person that can help you find an appliance, or pair of shoes.
    • The stores are lunatic-large. I don’t have all day to walk across your mega-store to find the six things I need. I won’t even get into the six bus-transfer tickets it took for me to get from the parking lot to the front door of the store.
    • They destroy far too many trees in their quest for the maximum amount of earth-covering asphalt.
    • If you don’t see a boxed item of what you want on a shelf, then forget it. The Walmart warehouses must be death chambers for employees – I have never had one of them go look for something that I wanted and have them return. Ever. They evaporate. I’m tempted to spend an afternoon in a store sending as many employees to the warehouse looking for things as I can, until eventually there are no employees left in the retail side of the store. I’ll open one cash register (Walmart customers won’t even suspect anything because this is commonplace) and just take cash for two hours. I doubt any employees would emerge from the warehouse (unless I timed it for the end of their shifts).
    • There is nothing they can do to make me feel like I am doing business with a local business – bar selling franchises, I suppose. They are the new Microsoft, or the old AT&T – the company people are loving to hate.

I’m sure I’m being overly harsh to Walmart. I don’t like Super-Target stores much better. But I can’t forget how these chain stores got popular in the first place – they saved time (buy a variety of goods in one place) and money. They were convenient.

But walking through a 130,000 square foot store isn’t convenient, and it makes the few dollars you might save seem insignificant. Add to that the fact you have to walk two blocks to and from the car, and I just figure I’ll stick to small strip centers, mom-n-pop stores, and almost anyplace else I can just pull up right in front of the door.

Source: Hot start to season, except Wal-Mart – Holiday Season ’06 –


  1. Well, with non-stop commercials telling us we have to buy crap for people we may or may not really care for – yes, we are brainwashed. And Paul – 3500 points. 2000 for the beer reference and another 1500 for being awake so early on a Sunday morning!

  2. I have yet another tip: Once you have this list of things to buy (and where), go to your garage, list in hand, have a good look around, then look at your list again and ask yourself how much of the listed junk you actually really need.
    Remove all items for which you don’t have a compelling reason to buy it (nor place for in your garage).
    Then go back into the house, have a beer (Rob! Points!), and ponder WHY on earth we feel so compelled to buy eachother gifts for Xmas. We don’t do it for Easter! Could it be that we have been brainwashed into this?

  3. I have to agree about these large chain stores not great for the World we live in. I prefer to shop online and I have written some thoughts I would like to share about the holiday shopping rush.

    Here are some Christmas Shopping Tips I have thought about and put together…
    It doesn’t need to really be the time of year that shoppers dread and retailers relish. If you’re like many people, just the idea of planning and shopping and decorating for Christmas puts you into a panic. It’s true; the holidays cause a lot of stress for countless people. Fear not, I have some tips that will help ease your holiday shopping burden and get your holiday time online easier and faster so you can deal with other important issues over the Christmas/holiday season.

    First thing is that you should write things down, make lists and think about what presents you need and who you need gifts for. Spend a little time sitting down with a pad and pen or in front of your computer and write down who you’re buying gifts for, any ideas for gifts that you have.
    Plan how you will go about your shopping and where you plan to shop. If you’re planning on doing a major shopping trip, decide on your primary shopping destination and then consider the places you’ll be passing on your way. For instance, if you’ll be going to be shopping at the mall, there might be several specialty shops on the way to the mall where you can stop in and pick up gifts, wine, stocking stuffers, or gift certificates for those hard-to-shop-for people.

    If you plan to shop online then first thing to do is know exactly what type of gift you need and then go to several leading coupons and bargain websites to see if the items you want have coupons, rebates or free shipping available at suitable stores. Some coupon sites I use regularly for this are: – plenty of rebates available for a number of promotions, one of my favourites, everything from flowers to food available. – great variety of stores, they offer bargains for companies like Newegg, Sony, Reebok plus many for smaller less known stores. – friendly site where some exclusive bargains can be found for, and others.

    An important thing to do is to make a rough outline of your budget. Decide before you head out how much money you want to spend on each family member, friend or person on your list, as well as for food and drink. Prioritize the most important people in your life as 1, 2, 3 etc. This is just a guideline of course, but the better prepared you are then the less likely you will be to overspend.

    The main things to remember is to plan out your shopping and to avoid crowds then get in as early as possible and preferably online for your shopping. Don’t forget to check out what’s available after Christmas too as most online stores heavily discount most of their pre Christmas stock at bargain sales in to the new year.

    Good luck!


  4. I can’t agree enough with each of these bullet points. I was recently in a Wal-Mart and told the checkout person that I hated to shop there but I did shop there because of people like her. She is there every week, I would see her every week and without that job, with her education, I just don’t know what she would do in that horrid little town where I used to live.

    But in the larger metropolitan area where I live now, I have greater choices as do the residents in terms of where they can work. I choose not to shop at Wal-Mart here in metropolitan Washington D.C.

    Ha, then I look at this MSNBC article and they picture folks RIGHT HERE in Fairfax county at Wal-Mart. Unbelievable.