Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Trip to Wally World

When I began teaching five years ago at my present elementary school, there was a huge flap about growth in the neighborhood. Seems developers wanted to turn a former mall into an Upscale W*lm*rt. Can we just pause here and appreciate that little oxymoron? Upscale. W*lm*rt.

The parents at my school are highly educated and savvy. They took to the streets to protest this endeavor in many forms and fashions. This loyal bunch did not want the mom-and-pop stores in the neighborhood to be challenged, and it seemed that the Big Guys blinked. The building was delayed, and the size of the W*lm*rt was greatly reduced.

This week I saw in the paper that the neighborhood W*lm*rt was open for business. I didn't really intend to shop there. Loyalty, and all. But I discovered I needed brown paper lunch bags for a classroom turkey art project, and dropped in after school today.

And there it was: newly opened in the neighborhood that was not exactly welcoming it with open arms.

May I stop to say a few things here? This store is located in the greater Austin area, which has a population of 1,700,000 people if you include the surrounding cities. But look how empty the parking lot was at 5:00 pm today:
I remember one of the main concerns of the Neighborhood Association was that this business would bring too much traffic into the area. I'm thinking that may not be a problem if local people keep voting with their presence...
...or not. This is a picture of the produce department. You may notice one thing missing in this well stocked section. Customers. The store was a veritable wasteland of people.

I found my brown paper bags and walked around for a bit. The departments are very tiny and only offer a fraction of what you would expect to be sold. In the women's department, unless you were there for fleece and jogging suits, you would find little to buy. In fact, I thought of a few more things I needed while there. Not one of them was stocked at this miniature Big Box store.

The lady at the checkout chirped out, "Did you find everything you needed?" and was surprised to hear me say no, that in fact I'd found very little that I needed. "Oh. I can call another W*lm*rt and you can swing by there for your other needs." (Yes. Just what I want to do after 10 hours in second grade: "swing by" another large store.)

Will I return to this store? Well, since they only stocked the 200-bag size of brown lunchbags, I'm probably good on turkey-making art supplies until 2021.

Neighborhood Davids: I think you won this round. Goliath may be coming down.

Or at least heavily discounting large quantities of unpurchased produce.


Buttercup said...

We just got a Costco in Manhattan -- no Walmart yet -- and I'm too overwhelmed by the thought of the number of people to even try it. I generally stick with smaller stores lately. May be a little costlier, but a lot less stress.

Lynn said...

Interesting! That is always an issue with the Big Box stores here too. Local, privately owned businesses are becoming a thing of the past as the big stores take over. I grew up with a Dad who said shop locally if you want the stores to be there when you need them. Even then people were leaving our small town to go to the city to get their groceries.

Have fun making brown paper bag turkeys!!

Dawn said...

I hate going to our Wally World but love their food prices and will often go north to a more updated store. However, after seeing your photos, perhaps I should go further south!

Sarah said...

I try to avoid Wallyworld, but sometimes you just gotta go there. It's not the cheapest grocery store in our neighborhood anymore, though. We now have an Aldi, which is WAY cheaper if you can believe it. Don't know if they have them down your way.