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.