Friday, April 13, 2007
A few years ago, I regularly posted in a class blog for a Public Relations class. At one point I wrote an entry about a corporation that we all know and love (and by "love" I mean "hate with a passion that burns hotter than the fires of a thousand suns"). If you haven't already guessed, I am talking about Wal-Mart. Because that same disdain burns more furiously than ever before, I feel that it is necessary to revisit my old post and add some new insight.
My issue with Wal Mart isn't about their discriminatory business practices and shady business dealings. Rather, it is about something far more superficial and seemingly unimportant.
The problem? Wal-Mart doesn't have baskets.
Enter any average grocery store, pharmacy or big-box store and you will find a nice stack of shopping baskets next to the carts. Such baskets are a convenient way for shoppers to pick up a few items without having to push a bulky cart around the store. Enter any Wal-Mart, however, and you will find a proliferation of carts, but no baskets. After giving the matter some thought, I figured out why.
Wal-Mart basically portrays itself as the ultimate one-stop-shop. In other words: they have a lot of different junk. Shoppers know this. The people running Wal-Mart know that they have a lot of stuff ("stuff" meaning "things that seem necessary at the time, but actually aren't"). They know that even if you are going into the store for a pack of gum, you will come out with at least six bags of stuff you didn’t want.
Wal-Mart knows this. It knows that if they give you a basket, you will buy what you need, but if they give you a cart, you won’t be able to leave the store without filling it to the brim. Wal-Mart knows that no matter how carefully you prepare a shopping list, you will ultimately wind up with junk you don’t need, knicknacks you don’t want, and food that you will probably never eat. It knows that no matter how much you don’t want or need that 10 gallon jar of mayonnaise or pig-shaped chia pet, you are going to buy them anyway. Even worse, Wal-Mart knows that those “rolling back prices” signs make you buy things that you will never in a million years use. A 20-year-old will see a bottle of Centrum Silver at regular price and not think anything of it. But roll the price back two bucks…it’s a MUST HAVE.
Yesterday I went to Wal-Mart for a DVD, a mailing envelope and a birthday card. I emerged with those three items, a popcorn bowl, a package of cups, an extra DVD, 2 extra mailing envelopes, a casserole dish, several boxes of hot pockets, a roll of tape and a candy bar.
Hence the carts.