I hate shopping. That’s actually a bold-face lie that needs clarification. I hate shopping with my kids and I hate shopping at Wal-Mart.
There is a Wal-Mart ten minutes away from my house and a Target twenty minutes away from my house in the opposite direction. Typically the ten minute difference is worth the trip to Target. If you’re a shopper who pays attention, you know there is a difference when shopping in those monstrous box stores.
There are days when I want to shop for my paper towels with a greasy pony tail and still be voted best dressed on the Wal-Mart red carpet.
I could outline all of the ways Target is awesome and Wal-Mart isn’t in an entire novel, but I’ll try to keep it brief.
Wal-Marts’ shelves are stocked like drunks broke in after hours and pranked everyone by moving all of the merchandise and putting the wrong price stickers on everything.
The Wal of Marts believes in blocking every aisle in the store with giant stacks of random shit you do not need. They haven’t figured out the sneakier methods of sale seduction like Target has. Target has masterminded ad campaigns to get you to buy things you don’t need when you’re not even in their store and bolstered that with simple product placement once you walk in the door.
Shopping at Wal-Mart feels dirtier. Like it’s the back-road, seedy strip joint of competitively priced department stores. I expect I’m being swindled when I step through the sliding doors into a dimly lit, disorganized shopping prison. If I take my kids there I can count on losing an entire day to tantrums for toys and leaving with a headache the size of the hole in my wallet.
I walk into Target and hit a united front of adorable handbags and sunglasses, it’s such a score for a mom to breeze by with a shopping cart full of screaming kids and do a one-handed bird of prey style swoop-in for a new pair of sunglasses, glance at the shoes and then hit a rack of yoga pants, all before I get to the cheap and good quality Up and Up diapers. That store knows their demographic, they know how I shop, they cater to it and I love them for it.
I walk into a Wal-Mart and slowly trudge behind thirty other people all bottle necking at the sliding doors because there’s a random bin of .99 cent movies happening in the flow of traffic. Then my kid screams at me because there’s a god damn Elmo movie in the bottom of that bin and he wants to look for it. Off to a great start, thanks Wal-Mart.
Moms pay attention to the price of the milk and the orange juice when they shop, because the kids we feed consume so much of it, and we watch our refrigerators empty every three days in quiet contempt, frustrated that we cannot spend a hundred bucks on sexy leather boots, or save up for the newer fridge with an ice maker because the kids drank all of the milk in one day, again.
The milk and the orange juice at Wal-Mart aren’t cheaper. There, I said it. I blew the lid off of the whole thing. Up here in New England our dairy and juice cost the same at a regular grocery store, or (gasp) at Target. Sure, you can convince yourself that the meat and produce at Wal-Mart is worth the deal. But I’m going to go all Tom Brokaw on this business and expose the truth; all of that produce and meat is going to go bad in record time. I have thrown away bananas that went from green to over-ripe in the twenty-four hour period that they sat on my counter. I bought a chicken once, and the next day it turned into a green and slimy sea-monster that smelled like a crime scene. And here I thought that GMO’s were supposed to make our food last longer? So exactly how long is that food sitting in a truck for before it hits those shelves? I’m going to leave it at that before I puke in my mouth at the thought of green, slimy chicken.
So why would I even bother going to a store that I loathe?
Because sometimes that extra ten minutes in the car with my kids is a safety hazard for other drivers, and my kids.
Because this time I had to take my grandmother to the Wal-Mart pharmacy so she could pick up her meds.
And sometimes, there’s no other way around it.
I brought my kids to Wal-Mart today and they drove me insane.
The checkout line was as backed up as a truck stop bathroom, true to Wal-Mart form and it took half an hour to cash out, my cashier left the desk to help another cashier, because apparently Wal-Mart also doesn’t know how to hire front end supervising staff to assist their cashiers. It was hot in front of those registers, (it’s hard to keep the machines cool while syphoning millions of dollars) and we had a charming view into the in-house super cuts salon while we waited.
Then, a couple in their matching hover-rounds rolled up in line next to us, smelling like my green, slimy Wal-Mart chicken and my preschooler could not stifle his curiosity.
“Hey mommy, what’s that disgusting smell?!” Was exactly what he yelled to me.
I managed not to die of humiliation and he managed not to puke by dramatically holding his nose closed and refusing to breathe.
I had a fun time explaining to my three year old in whispers the importance of bath time, and how sometimes people smell bad but we have to be polite and not talk about it.
The good news is Wal-Mart taught my three year old to appreciate the grooming rituals I force on him.
And that never happens at Target.
Either way, every time I leave my house it seems to cost me a Hundred and Fifty cold ones.