Yup, I used to love it. I remember when they opened a Super Wal-Mart about 20 miles away from where I grew up. It was the new cool place to go. After all, they were open 24 hours. That was when I was just starting to do my own grocery shopping and buy my own stuff. I would always get nervous at the checkout trying to organize my coupons and find my debit card, and I remember more than once having to put something back because I had miscalculated and gone over my meager budget. For all those reasons and more, my favorite time to shop was the middle of the night. I would go to bed early and get up at 3 or 4 to go. Besides, you couldn’t beat the traffic.
I remember getting e-mails way back then encouraging me to “boycott” Wal-mart because of their crappy treatment of workers. I even read a great book in which the author experimentally tries to live on the wages she makes working for Wal-mart. That was awhile ago but I remember liking the book and would recommend it if you’re interested in such topics. I’m still not sure that I have a big problems with their policies and such. The Wal-mart in my town employs a lot of people and sad as it is to say, I guess they all think it is better than unemployment.
When I moved out here I would go to Wal-mart for our groceries and such. My husbands’ 92 year old grandpa was forever trying to get me to stop buying there and start supporting the little man. My own family (rather my Mom’s family) owns a small grocery store and I know the fear they have about losing business to the big guys. I could relate, I just couldn’t get over the low prices and convenience. The other place in town was small and, I’d always heard, expensive.
Then things changed. First, Wal-mart started to become a big pain in the you-know-what. They never had enough cashiers. I remember Brian waiting in line for over 15 minutes to buy batteries that had taken him 2 minutes to find. Next, they started a major remodeling project which meant it took 15 minutes to find things + 15 minutes to check out. We decided we were done with the place. I soon started working at the other end of town which means the smaller store is right next door. And you know what? They aren’t so expensive after all. I almost always buy on sale and stock up. Our grocery bill had gone way down anyway now that I grow and preserve a lot of our own food. My husband was really pushing me to buy local and when I found this great blog community, that sealed the deal.
It’s a pretty big sin around here to buy any sugar except Pioneer or Big Chief. They are made right here is Michigan from sugar beets that grow in our backyard. A lot of our extra income comes from hauling beets and helping out the farmers who grow them. I’m pretty sure Wal-mart’s sugar comes from sugar cane in South America. Nice.
My boss loves Wal-mart. I harass her about it all the time, mostly in a teasing kind of way. I realize that if I’m crabby and demanding people will just get mad, they won’t necessarily take me to be a good influence. I had to speak up though when she mentioned that Wal-mart had pumpkins for sale. “You’re not seriously going to buy pumpkins from Wal-mart are you?” I said. “Well, where else would I buy them?” she said. “How about a local farmer who grows them?” I suggested. She pointed out that the mini pumpkins she bought there came from Indiana and that they were probably farmers too.
It is amazing to me how so many business owners here completely miss the point that buying local supports our local economy, in turn keeping everyone’s doors open. I am learning so much about how to be patient and gently share this with the people around me. It is so nice to check in here and not have to feel like a crazy hippie for liking fresh produce & recycling.
Speaking of hippies, that’s what I’m going to be for Halloween! More on that later…