28 August 2009

Wal-Mart adventures

I don't shop at Wal-Mart. I really like the idea of supporting smaller chains or, best of all, mom&pop type establishments. Also there is no Wal-Mart that is convenient to my house. I've only been in a Wal-Mart once, and that was within the past 6 months. I guess I lost my Wal-Mart virginity then.

I am currently vacationing in Williamsburg, VA, and the place we are staying (Great Wolf Lodge) is almost directly next to a Wal-Mart. The convenience is overwhelming. We arrived yesterday, and TheHusband wanted to buy a pair of water shoes, because his feet get sore running around after ThePinkThing. So he went into the little shop here at the hotel. It is actually inside the water park. Did it have any water shoes for men? Nope, none.

At that point, he drove over to Wal-Mart figuring that they have everything there; they'd certainly have men's water shoes, and likely they'd be cheaper. He found a Wal-Mart employee and asked where he could find water shoes. He was told "the shoe aisle." So he went to the shoe aisle. No water shoes. He tried the "Seasonal" aisle, where (shockingly) there were no water shoes. He finally found another (slack-jawed) employee and asked her where he could find water shoes. She looked at him disdainfully and said "the shoe aisle." He told her that there weren't any. Apparently, she rolled her eyes and took him over to some water shoes. But they were women's shoes. Not helpful. Then she walked him over to the men's shoe aisle, where there were... no water shoes. She thought about it and then said "they're out of season." Out of season? In August? In a Wal-Mart literally next to a Great Wolf Lodge? At that point, having had this great big light bulb blink on above her head and having passed on that information, she simply walked away from TH and started talking to a coworker. No apologies, no good-bye. Just simply done with him.

TH ended up trying on the largest women's pair available, but it was like one of Cinderella's stepsisters trying to squeeze her foot into the glass slipper. Unsuccessful. So TH is (somewhat grumpily) running around after TPT in bare feet.

My BFF went to Wal-Mart this morning to pick up some food (she has 4 kids to keep happy). While asking a Wal-Mart employee something, a young woman came up to them. This woman asked where she would find cinnamon sticks. The employee's suggestion was the craft aisle (!), clearly having no idea what a cinnamon stick was. When Claudia (my BFF) suggested that the spices aisle would be a better choice, that was greeted with favor. The employee curiously asked the other customer what she wanted cinnamon sticks for. Answer: "I like to smoke them." (!)

I went over to Wal-Mart also this morning. I needed a few school supplies that were sold out at two stores in Bethesda (crayons and binder dividers). Here is a reasonable outline of that conversation:

Neurondoc: Hi. Can you help me find some school supplies?
Wal-Mart employee: School supplies?
ND: Yes, school supplies.
WME: School supplies?
ND: Yes. You know stuff for kids going back to school.
WME: Oh. (pause) We don't carry school supplies.
ND: What? You don't have crayons and notebooks and paper?
WME: Oh that. They just moved that stuff, and I don't know where it is. You could try the stationery aisle (pointing to the farthest back corner of the store).
ND: Okay.
WME (to another nearby WME): Do we have school supplies?
WME2: Yes. They just moved them.
ND (aaaaaaaahhhhhhh): Thanks for your help.
WME3 (seeing me standing there indecisively): Can I help you find something?
ND (dubious): Do you know where the school supplies are?
WME3: I think so. Over here.
ND (after following WME3 to a nearby aisle, NOT at farthest back corner, mind you): Hmmm. These are office desk supplies. I need some crayons and binder dividers.
WME3: Binder dividers?
ND: Yes, the pages you stick in a 3 ring binder to separate sections of paper.
WME3: Binder dividers? (asks another nearby WME)
WME4: Oh, they're right over here. (walks over one more aisle and points)
ND (truly thankful): That's exactly what I want. Thanks.

I needed the help of 4 people to find school supplies, which as it turned out were in 2 aisles at the front of the store, being as this is the week before most local kids return to school. Sheesh.


Nathan said...

School supplies?

You mean like anti-bacterial wipes and Haz-Mat suits, right?

Tania said...

My friend Wendy shops there once a month, picks up a few things that she likes that only Wal*Mart carries.

I get a full hour of ranting after every excursion as she details the horror of the store, the help, and the customers. Next time we're supposed to go to the Chili's across the parking lot, she's going to drink before going in, and I'll be driving her home.

Anonymous said...

Wait wait wait...! You found an employee? In WalMart? That you were certain was a WalMart employee? To ask actual questions of?

*really awed look*


WendyB_09 said...

I'm still amazed you found an employee that spoke English!

Actually, having spent nearly half my life in retail, I can relate this with some level of expertise: 1> summer season was over by the 4th of July,
2> in most areas now, Back to School is completely done by Labor Day, and
3> next week most big-box retailers will put out Halloween AND at the very least, Christmas trees!! Both within about 24 hours of each other.

Caveat on the Back to School seasonal is it flexes in areas where school doesn't start until after Labor Day, like normal schools should. Then it will disappear completely the week after Labor Day. By the time you get to the store after the first partial week of school...oh, never mind, the employees don't even know where the stuff is!


ntsc said...

So far have totally avoided Wal-Mart. It is a union thing.

I do use Home Depot and Lowes and really like Costco, but try and use smaller stores to the extent possible. I've a fair idea of what both my local hardware store and my local lumber yard stock if it something they are unlikely to have or be able to get when I need it.

Anonymous said...

Cinnamon sticks are a common craft supply. In fact, in a regular Wal-Mart (or other general-merchandise store) they're more likely to be found in the craft section than in the (fairly basic) seasonings section.

I'm guessing the woman meant she was heating them to scent her home, rather than smoking them like cigarettes. It's pretty common.

This chain varies according to local management, like other stores. My local Wal-Mart has friendly, helpful staff who know where the merchandise is. In my area it's the Wal-Marts which are pleasant and well-run, and their main competitor (I'm sure you know the chain) which has scruffy stores and uniformly rude employees.

If you have friendly non-chain merchants at home, who will actually sell you the products you need, you're fortunate. Not all of us have that option.

neurondoc said...

Anonymous -- I had no idea that cinnamon sticks were commonly in the crafts section. As for heating them to scent the howm -- that didn't occur to me or my friend.