Friday, December 26, 2008

Why I am doomed to a life of Wal-Mart shopping

I am wondering if the reason I have been in such a funk this Christmas, and why the overwhelming feeling I've gotten from other bloggers recently is one of funkiness, might be because of the economy. I mean, I'd actually say that this year has been a BETTER one (financially anyway) than last year for the Texan Mama Family. Texan Papa got a better job with higher pay and good job security, we paid off our van, and we got a huge tax return. Our garage sales even rocked! But, even though we did fine this year, the news is all around us: "Forclosures at an all-time high!", "Americans unable to provide for their families", "Unemployment rate continues to climb", "Food pantries running out of food" etc. I almost feel like it would be a crime to suggest that our family is doing okay. Sure, our retirement accounts are in the crapper, but we aren't planning to cash those in for at least another 25 years, so hopefully the market will have bounced back by then.

So, all this crappy economy news just leads me to one obvious conclusion: Wal-Mart is, and always will be, the King of the Mountain. Not that I love them, but if ya can't beat 'em, ya gotta join 'em.

See, Wal-Mart advertises "Low Prices. Always." Yes, 'tis true. The prices are low. No matter that the quality sucks, but that's neither here nor there. At their prices, you can afford to buy a pair of shoes and let them fall apart in 2 months time, because then you can buy another pair and another pair. And hey! They are brand new again. And again. And again.

And, the price-matching. OH the price-matching. I have been known to bring in my ads from 2 neighborhood grocery stores, Target, Home Depot, and Jo-Ann Fabrics, and get all the items in one stop. All that, and I can also pick up a 5-pound tube of ground beef, an American flag, and some baby socks. (This was an actual shopping trip about 3 weeks ago). As much as I truly want to patronize all the mom-and-pop operations out there, I have to do what's best for my sanity. And what's best for my sanity is to not test my children with "Please, kids? Can we go to just 3 more stores? I promise, only a few items at each store!" With 4 children, going to multiple stores, with multiple check-out lanes, and multiple candy/toy selections in each check-out lane, well - you do the math. Sticking to just ONE store significantly lowers my budget for items in the category of "Please stop asking me questions for 25 seconds oh here put this in your mouth"

Also, I am ashamed to admit that I feel comfortable in Wal-Mart. Why, you ask? Well, upon leaving Nowheresville, IL and moving to Texas, I found that the layout of my old and new Wal-Mart were exactly the same. When finding my way around my new neighborhood, I recognized no familiar grocery stores, no familiar beauty shops, no familiar hardware stores. But Wal-Mart? As I breezed up and down the aisles with inventory pallets haphazardly strewn in the way of my cart, I often forgot I was in Texas altogether! It was like being back home in IL.

And, I have gotten the same feeling at just about every Wal-Mart I have ever visited. If I bought some Cover Girl mascara that just didn't turn out as I liked, I can return it at Wal-Mart in TX or in IL or in Alaska or in Hawaii. Heck, I bet I could have used that mascara for 3 months before I decided I didn't like it, and they'd STILL take it back. Without the receipt. And probably even give me cash back for it. Seriously - have you ever been in line at Customer Service behind some dolt returning a stereo without the box or any packaging materials, and it totally looks stolen, and Wal-Mart STILL will take the return? I have. To say their return policy is "liberal" is being generous. Which, of course, is good for me - the consumer. (NOTE: I am not saying I return stolen merchandise. Used? sure. I prefer the term "consumer-tested" or even "sampled")

And, finally, to tie up this post in a nice little bow, the main reason I will forever be a customer of Wal-Mart, whether I like it or not, is because now more than ever I am assured that Wal-Mart will never never never never never EVER go out of business. They just might be the only store that is growing in this sinking economy. Now comes the portion of my post where I get to rant about a terrible injustice done to me:

Back in October, I bought a pair of jeans from Steve & Barry's. Do you have a Steve & Barry's around you? If not, I am NOT going to provide a link to those bastards. Anyway, they have cute clothes at very cheap prices, but they are going out of business nationwide (insert evil cackle here. Sheesh, you'd think I had something to do with it!) Anyway, jeans. Size 14. Well, maybe they are a size 14 if size 14 really means size 10. Anyway, of course when I bought them I was in typical shopping mode (aka no time to try-on in the store so I will try-on at home) and asked the clerk, "What is the return policy here?" She said, "90 days, with your receipt." I said, "90 days?" she said, "90 days." So, we were clear. 90 days. Fast forward 62 days, to December 10th. I go to return the size 14/10 jeans, and the clerk says, "Sorry. Our store is closing. No more returns for any reason." I argued, "But it was EXACTLY YOU who told me '90 days'. I bought these jeans when you were NOT going out of business. You told me '90 days'! It has only been 62 days. I want my stupid $9.95 plus tax back. Or store credit." She wouldn't budge, so I asked for a manager. He wouldn't budge either. I told him, "Look, I'll exchange it for something else. Something that DOES fit me." He said, almost half-laughing, "Why would we take the jeans back now? We're closing. We want to get rid of our merchandise." He couldn't be convinced. So, I pulled out the big guns. I said, "Are you sure this is the way it's going to be?" He looked at me as if to say are you serious? I don't know what I was more pissed off about - the fact that he wouldn't take my jeans back or the fact that he wasn't scared by my scathing threat. Of course, I got the phone number for the Corporate office (useless!) and sent them an e-mail (auto reply - "thanks for your interest in our company!") and said that I'd be telling the whole sordid story on my blog that is read by MANY MANY people.

So, people, DO NOT SHOP AT STEVE AND BARRY'S! I don't care how cute the clothes are. I don't care if you're getting a good deal. I don't care if you think their stupid t-shirts have the grooviest little quips about Tootsie Rolls or Sun my Buns or whatever. If you patronize Steve and Barry's, you will be considered an enemy of this blog! (okay, well, I guess what I don't know won't hurt me, but if you go there please just don't tell me.)

Okay, so to sum up: I have a love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart. I love them, but I hate that I love them. I want to vow that I will never shop there again, but I know I will slink through those massive doors yet again. I've tried to break my ties with them. But that stupid yellow bouncy smiley face keeps bringin' me back home again.

By the way, you MUST read this post by Souther' Mother - why I hate Walmart. It is so funny that I almost peed my pants, then ran out to Wal-Mart to buy more. Plus some Chicken in a Biskit crackers. Yum.


Courtney said...

Hey! Merry Awesome Christmas to you too! ( A day late.) I have never heard of Steve&Barry's before, but they sound awful! See I like Walmart because they have an AWESOME return policy. BUT the one here in very south GA is GHETTO. lol.

Loralee Choate said...

Yup. It's a bah humbug year for a lot of people. I'm better off in many, many ways than other years, but it's just a blah time. Go figure, huh?

I wonder what is going to happen to SJP's line, "Bitten" if Steve&Barry's is biting the dust?

Anna See said...

I just got back from Walmart 5 min ago. I feel the same way you do, although I have no idea what a tube of beef is.

I managed to spend 150 fairly quickly and out Walmart doesn't even have groceries. Steve and Barry's-- consider them boycotted by me! I do not want to be dead to Texas Mama.

Jennifer said...

Try HEB. The big stores If you have one) rock!

sassy stephanie said...

Tisk tisk. Shouldn't that be a TEXAS flag with your 5lb tube of beef?

Karly said...

I'm sorry, but you do not SERIOUSLY buy your beef in a tube, do you? Please say no. PLEASE SAY NO.

Also, this has been our best year by far as well. And I feel guilty as hell saying that, too. It's weird, huh?

And, one more thing, we've probably discussed this before, but where at in IL are you from? I'm in Pekin. Just curious if you were close. :)

Text Imps said...

I was wondering the same thing as Karly. Where in IL?

Jen said...

you know, its the good old stuff that really lasts, not the fancy pants stuff. Give me Wal-mart/Target/Meijer any day.

Janie said...

Came by via....oh, heck, somebody's blog. I read way too many!

Enjoyed the visit, I'll be back.

and I HATE Walmart (but I was there today!)

Jamie said...

I too am doomed to a life of Walmart shopping...but I really don't mind too much actually. I can get pretty much everything I need all in one stop (thank God for Super Walmarts) and still have money left in my checking account. Heck I work at Target and can hardly afford to buy much of anything from there.

I'm here via SITS. I love your blog! I'm going to follow you and add you to my list of blogs I check out.