Friday, March 23, 2012

Gimme a Sqiggly

My apologies to the Wal-Mart haters, out there, for I'm about to say something shocking.

I like Wal-Mart.

Oh, I know, that's a highly controversial thing to say, and even more shocking since I was once a Wal-Mart hater too. And it was a foul hate, a hate that I felt with every cell in my body. There was a long period in my life when I'd go several years between Wal-Mart visits, with each visit only renewing the skin-crawling horror that I must have repressed from the time before.

I recall one visit where I was shopping for a particular big-ticket item that for some reason only Wal-Mart seemed to carry. I chose to drive to an upscale neighborhood many many miles away, in the hope that their Wal-Mart would not be complete trash. But it still was, and I ended up running out of the store without even bothering with that big-ticket purchase.

Years went by. We moved to Oregon. Mike tried to convince me that Oregon Wal-Marts were better than California Wal-Marts, but I wouldn't hear it, and whenever he chose to shop there I made him go alone.
Then we moved to the mountain house, where the closest Target was an hour's drive away. But there was a smallish Wal-Mart 20 miles away. When we needed to make a department store purchase that for whatever reason couldn't be fulfilled on, it really made the most sense just to go to the little Wal-Mart. Up until that point I had not been inside Wal-Mart in over a decade.

The little Wal-Mart was not too bad in terms of cleanliness and employee friendliness.  I was astounded by the low prices. True, they didn't have exactly everything I was looking for (in terms of quality), but the things that did meet my qualifications were priced very low and were much more convenient to obtain at Wal-Mart than anywhere else.  When we had baby Libby, we supplemented her gift wardrobe with some very cute and very inexpensive baby clothes from Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart has its own designs that are all simple and all coordinate with each other, like Geranimals (and they also carry Geranimals).

After moving away from rurality and back to civilization, I was glad to be shopping at Target again.  Until Libby needed more clothes.  The selection of baby clothes at Target is lousy.  I was really surprised that Wal-Mart could outrank Target in any department, so I assumed that this was just an "off" season for Target and the selection would improve later.  But I was wrong.  The brands that Target carries all produce very loud, ruffly, licensed, cheap-looking clothes.  I had to go to children's specialty stores and I felt like the clothes were pretty expensive considering they weren't handmade.  I didn't go to Wal-Mart because there isn't one around my house and I didn't really think to go looking for one, so I kind of forgot about Wal-Mart.

After we'd been here for a year, I mentioned to Mike that I'd be buying Libby some new clothes, and since I would NOT be buying them at Target, that the bill might be kind of high.  He suggested that I try Wal-Mart first.  He looked up the location of one that is a couple of towns away.  So I went there and they had the cutest clothes at the lowest prices and now Libby has a new wardrobe that is cuter than anything at any of the other stores I've seen.

Is that enough to make me love Wal-Mart?  Almost.  But there's more to the story.  Mike decided to take us back to Wal-Mart the next day so he could get some sunglasses that he has only been able to find at that store, nowhere else.  This particular location is a Super Wal-Mart with a grocery store, so we went over to pick up a few groceries, when we turned a corner and saw a wide well-lit aisle with huge signs saying "Are you Prepared?  Do you have a Plan?"  And we stopped in our tracks and with the bright lights shining down there might as well have been angels singing at that moment.  I was in disbelief and had to blink my eyes a few times...a whole huge aisle of #10 cans of pantry food, including the holy grail of pantry preppers: canned butter and canned cheese.  Oh, those internet food catalog companies must be so mad.  But I don't care.  I love Wal-Mart.

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