I almost miss Walmart

I never thought I’d miss Walmart much less admit to it if I did. That’s why the descriptor “almost” is up there. There are no superstores (Walmart or Target) of any kind around San Diego; legend has it that a specific city ordinance was passed to prevent stores over a specific square footage from selling groceries thus blocking the two major chains. The nearest one is 11 miles from my house and not worth the drive considering there’s 5+ CVS and 3-4 grocery chains within 2 miles of me.

I guess I took the supercenter stores for granted; yes it’s very convenient to get everything at one stop, but when that’s your only real selling point (your cost is lower because of economy of scale- you’re not doing us any favors here) maybe it’s time to get a new marketing strategy. Doing a Google map search for Walmart shows 3-4 north of me and 5 or 6 south- the southern ones not starting for 20+ miles. While that’s not anything out of the ordinary, what struck me was that the reviews Google presented alongside each store location. Almost every one of the reads the same, the voice of practical housewives saying how easy and convenient Walmart is. Something smells a bit fishy.

So for the past few days while I wait for my stuff to arrive, I’ve started exploring the neighborhood and shops around me trying to find replacements for things I typically abused Walmart for. While I ended up having to visit 3-4 stores to get what I needed on the whole I found store staff to be both more knowledgeable and friendlier and I actually enjoyed the entire process more. I don’t know if that same enjoyment will stick around when I’m working and pressed for time.

The only exception to this so far is grocery stores; I’ve tried 3 different chains now and had varying levels of success looking for specific brands I wanted. The exception to that was a chain called Smart and Final. It wasn’t a big warehouse store, in fact it looked like a regular grocery store. They had everything I wanted but it was more like a scavenger hunt. Shaving cream? Across the isle from coffee. Baby diapers? Right next to the chili. Razors? Not sold there!

So while the pros and cons pretty much even out, avoiding Walmart stores has one extra thing going for it: you pretty much get to avoid people like these.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Mark says:

    I believe the West version of warehouse evil is named Costco. You’ve also got IKEA for cheap furniture, some of it is really well made for the price, some pieces rival a couple of two-by-fours.

    I respect any city that refuses to have a large warehouse within X miles. Small mom-and-pop shops were the best back in the 80s. You had real people – owners themselves – running the place. Not someone who hates their job because they get a low wage and no benefits, from each of their three part time jobs specifically designed to “lower costs” to the store.

  2. Mark says:

    I believe the West version of warehouse evil is named Costco. You’ve also got IKEA for cheap furniture, some of it is really well made for the price, some pieces rival a couple of two-by-fours.

    I respect any city that refuses to have a large warehouse within X miles. Small mom-and-pop shops were the best back in the 80s. You had real people – owners themselves – running the place. Not someone who hates their job because they get a low wage and no benefits, from each of their three part time jobs specifically designed to “lower costs” to the store.

  3. Mike says:

    Yup there’s Costcos around in San Diego, just none up this way as far as I know.

    I wasn’t really a consumer back in the 80s much, so I can’t comment on mom and pop places back then 🙂

  4. Mike says: Author

    Yup there’s Costcos around in San Diego, just none up this way as far as I know.

    I wasn’t really a consumer back in the 80s much, so I can’t comment on mom and pop places back then 🙂

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