The ‘Wal-Mart’ Stigma: Who are the ‘real’ people of Wal-Mart?

The ‘Wal-Mart’ Stigma: Who are the ‘real’ people of Wal-Mart?

The People Of Wal-MartI am an adult who had never shopped at Wal-Mart a day in her life until last year.

Okay, my mother and father might have taken me when I was a child. However, as an adult I had never willingly gone to Wal-Mart.

I knew that there was a certain negative stigma that comes with Wal-Mart and the people who work or shop there. I knew dirty people who worked at Wal-Mart.

I saw, just like everyone else, photos of people at Wal-Mart showing off their back boobs and men in Speedos checking out. I read the Google “fat costumes” article about Wal-Mart and their lack of decency. I was totally turned off by that store.

I felt like the people who shopped at Wal-Mart were below me. I don’t wear sweatpants out in public…like EVER! I don’t have crazy hair! I don’t have back boobs! I don’t wear nude leggings either.

The People Of Wal-MartI dress appropriately for my age. I love my kids and would never strap them to the bottom of a cart. I would never have poop stains let alone leave the house with them. I have self decency.

It seemed that the people who went to Wal-Mart did NOT!

I was wrong. I will be the first to admit it. I went to Wal-Mart last year. I learned so much about people and myself during this time.

1. Not everyone who goes to Wal-Mart is homeless – The people who shop at Wal-Mart are not homeless nor do they lack common sense. Some dress like they have no place to live but those people are the ones who don’t care what others think about them. I want to be more like that. I want to be able to walk out of the house in the middle of the night in my pjs to get meds for my kid without feeling judged too. (however, I will never leave the house without makeup) That must feel liberating! I am too judgmental of myself.

2. You look better than 99.99999999% of everyone there – Let’s face it. Wal-Mart is known for it’s crazy looking people. Need an esteem boost? How about a little pick me up? Go to Wal-Mart! I don’t even have to walk all the way inside sometimes. Just walking up to the door is enough for me.

3. You DO NOT have to wear spandex to shop at Wal-Mart – From photos on the web I was for certain that you had to wear spandex to shop at Wal-Mart. Preferably nude, two sizes too small spandex. I have since learned that you do not.

4. Their prices are great – We all know that some stuff at stores is priced higher. I’m not saying that Wal-Mart doesn’t do that too. However, I am saying that when I shop at a regular store versus Wal-Mart I do end up spending less. (What’s a “regular” store? Anything that is not Wal-Mart I consider a regular store.)

5. It’s an everything store – Groceries and clothes and electronics and paint and car repair and pet store and automotive store and why wouldn’t you shop here store? I was naive. I can now go to Wal-Mart and have my tires rotated, get a new car key made, while waiting on my living room paint to be mixed, grab the kid’s soccer shorts he needs for school, the daughter’s jewelry was fixed and is ready to be picked up at the jewelry counter, and I can get dinner for tonight even hot food all at one place. That’s a win, win, win!

The People Of Wal-Mart

I do not see people taking photos ever. I was always worried I’d be in the background of a Wal-Mart person’s photo shoot.

I have never witnessed someone posing in the dairy section for their senior photos.

I haven’t seen people having sex on the futons either. (bummer?) I do see strange people but that’s part of the fun.

I had totally the wrong idea of what this store was. Wal-Mart is just a regular store with a little something extra…everything!

I’m waiting for a nail salon and photo studio to come to our local store. Then my life will be complete.

My Secret Shame: I hate myself for loving you, @WalMart

My Secret Shame: I hate myself for loving you, @WalMart

secretshameI am about to come out of the shopper shame closet. I hope you’re sitting down. My name is Angie and I am a secret Wal-Mart shopper.

A secret Wal-Mart shopper is not to be confused with a Wal-Mart secret shopper, mind you.

A secret shopper is a person who offers his employer a glimpse at what a real customer would experience, and generally the employees never even know they have been “shopped.”

But as a secret Wal-Mart shopper, I do not hide my identity to the people at the store (though I feel a little dirty, shopping there, not gonna lie–but seriously? Sometimes my inner cheapskate comes out and drags me there, reminding me that there is no reason to pay more money for the exact same item I can buy elsewhere just because I have Wal-Mart shame. Don’t judge me. I just don’t see any logic to it.

However, it’s safe to say that there is a certain lack of concern for customer service, at least in some Wal-Mart stores in my area.

Goodbye, forever?

walmart5Well, one evening a couple weeks ago, I thought I was finally ready to end my secret Wal-Mart affair. I’d spent more than an hour gathering up $500 worth of groceries, household items, toiletries and school uniforms for my kids (all under one roof, and that was enough food to feed my family for literally three weeks!)

Again. I just can’t help myself. I’d have spent at least twice that if I’d bought all of that locally.

And then, I waited in a single line with 16, 17, 18 other customers, a line that over the course of ten minutes kept me in the same spot but continued to get longer.

If I didn’t need all that stuff, I swear I’d have walked right out of there!

Proof of the power of social media: I am writing this post in which I am publicly admitting my secret and tawdry affair with Wal-Mart.

A man next to me in the line who was really sweet and totally reminded me of some awesome outdoorsy dad type offered me his place in line, even though my cart was formidable and would clearly cost him an extra 30 minutes in line, if this checker was really moving as slowly as she appeared to be.

She seemed to be in slow motion. It was making me a little testy. Ha, that might be an understatement.

I thanked him and politely refused the offer, pointing out the whole cart thing.

The Tweet of Defiance: My Pseudo-Dramatic Social Media Moment

Anyhoo, that was about the time I decided to tweet my displeasure about this situation with a bold shout out to @WalMart. I was feeling all kinds of bold and justified.

After my tweet of defiance, I noticed that within 3 or 4 minutes, like three new lines opened right up.

I am not saying it was the tweet. I am just saying it was a super fun coincidence if not.

I looked around at the relieved congestion and the people feeling less stuck and the mood lightening and smiled. (Meanwhile inside my head, I’m feeling like I am some kind of Wal-Mart shopper super hero, like my mad social media skills totally saved the freaking day. Like, I reached out and told on them via Twitter, and Mama Wal-Mart made them play nice…ahh….)

But really–I know, it could be a coincidence.

Well, then what should’ve and almost did permanently end my secret Wal-Mart affair happened…I came face to face with the checkout girl, who, by the way was an absolutely gorgeous teenager.

Unfortunately, her mother nor her employer had taught her how to talk to people. The first thing she said to me, after announcing “there’s no waiting on 10,” was, “uh ma’am, I’m closed.”

That was about the time I almost cried and started a public scene at Wal-Mart, totally blowing my secret cover. This was so unlike me, but damned if I didn’t just give up my spot in that other line that had refilled my spot and gone four big carts deeper.

It was a hard day, y’all, and it was nearly 10 p.m. at this point. I just wanted to go home.

walmartI guess the beautiful checkout girl sensed my desperation, because she took pity on me and allowed me to stay.

I got this impression she was trying to leave, because she then informed me that she had seen me in the aisle earlier and she felt sorry for the checkout person who “got me.”

You know, because I was buying so much stuff…from the store…that she works at…ahem.

No seriously, she really said that. At least the part about feeling sorry for the checker (herself, as it turned out–karma’s a bitch, ain’t she?).

My #1 Customer Service Tip to Anyone Who Gets Paid by a Store, Shop or Other Business That Depends on My Money: Don’t make me feel guilty for spending it there!

That was about the time I told her that if I worked at Wal-Mart, I’d love customers who come in and spend that kind of cheddar on a semi regular basis (don’t judge me! It’s usually once quote month or less and I totally support my local businesses, too…but please note that I personally know a few people who have worked at Wal-Mart over the years, and that, in my opinion, counts as supporting locals.
Heck, I worked for American Studios, the company that previously subcontracted as Wal-Mart’s portrait studios, in my college and slightly post college years. I personally never worked for Wal-Mart but I suppose I would’ve never had those opportunities (and back then, top notch training) were it not for uncle Sam (Walton).

Plus, I am interested in this whole mother’s day campaign that is featuring products from woman owned companies, but I am saving that for another post.

(Which reminds me, tune in all week to find out what I’ll be revealing about myself at – it’s related…sorta. But it’s definitely huge.)
So, the checker sort of redeemed herself by getting all the groceries in bags and helping me load them into the cart. That was cool…except that she also made me feel like I should have apologized for buying stuff from her employer…but I think if I were her employer, I would want to, I don’t know, teach these people to stop acting like they hate their customers.
But here is why, at present, I haven’t broken up with Wal-Mart yet!
Wal-Mart’s Social Media Geniuses: I can’t quit you!
Like I said, maybe it was just a coincidence that directly after I tweeted, the floodgates (aka checkout stands) miraculously opened up. But then again, maybe not. See, once I got home, I noticed that Wal-Mart had tweeted me back!

After thanking the Wal-Mart tweeter, I got this:

As a total social media geek, I just can’t quit a company that has that kind of sharp customer service on its side–despite the fact that it sells its products for “irresponsibly low” prices, according to Daniel Tosh. (And come on, that’s a whole lot of the reason I can’t stop, let’s be honest!)

With all of this being said, I’m fully prepared to have the Wal-Mart hating-party rain down its disdain on me–I can take it. Let me have it–I deserve it. I hate myself for loving Walmart.

How do you feel about Wal-Mart? Let me hear it in the comments section, below!

Money Is Just Energy, Dummies

Money Is Just Energy, Dummies

You know those money issues you struggle with?  The ones that keep you cash poor, that have you maxing out your credit card each month, that keep you from asking for that raise every year? Yeah, those are the ones.  Well, here’s a little something I learned recently – those beliefs and issues surrounding money start WAY earlier than I ever would have imagined.

Case in Point:

money issuesA few weeks ago, as I was crawling towards the coffee pot early one morn, I happened upon my three nieces, along with one of their small neighbor friends, planning a summer job.  Pink, red, and yellow construction paper was strewn all over the front porch and markers were tossed aside – lids off – to dry in the sun that was already baking the concrete.

I stopped, wiped my bleary eyes, and asked what they were doing.

My niece Jocelyn gave me the hand-made poster which outlined their services:

Dog  Wash

If you got a dirty pup we’ll clean them up!

Open Hours 11:00 to 2:30

$2.00 per dog             Any size dog

Not open on holidays and Friday and Mondays and Birthdays

(You will see the dog when you come in the neighborhood)

Plus we dry, brush or put something in their fur, your choice.

It may have been my dull senses upon just waking but I was über proud of my ability to refrain from asking which Friday they are closed (as there seemed to be only one) and whose birthdays they were talking about (the customer’s or theirs) and what “something” they planned to put in the dog’s fur.  (A few hours later, their Dad was not so full of restraint and told Jocelyn that he wanted her to put $4.00 in his dog’s fur.) And, damn. . . “you will see the dog when you come in the neighborhood” – they’re certainly confident aren’t they?  Lastly, I beamed with a pride I couldn’t contain over their correct use of the word “their.”

After my coffee-deprived brain had spell-checked their document I did the math.  For each dog they washed they would make $.50 a piece.

Say what?

The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I asked, incredulous, “That’s all you’re charging? $2.00 per dog?”

Four heads nodded at me in unison.

“Girls, you are seriously undervaluing yourselves.”

MaKendra, another of my nieces, looked up at me confused, “No we’re not.”

I turned red as a pomegranate. “You should be charging at least $8.00 per dog.  That’s $2.00 a piece per dog.  Your time is more valuable than $.50.  How long is it going to take you to wash each dog? How big are these dogs?  $2.00 is just too low, you’re all worth more than that.”

Then I stopped ranting.  $8.00?  I pay $45.00 for So-kr8z’s S-PaW days (though that $45.00 includes the massaging of his oh-so-delicate anal glands – a task which I’d happily pay $150.00 for.) But even I, at the age of 40, am undervaluing time and energy.  Yes, even I was ball-parking low for these girls. What’s with that and where does it come from?

I got my answer

Days later I was talking with their Dad – who is probably the hardest working guy I know, as is their mother.  These two parents are on the go from 7:00 am until 1:00 am Every. Single. Day. working their guts out.  And they’re not rich.  Yeah, they get by, they have the necessities and some fun toys but they’re not vacationing in the Bahamas every year. They fervently believe that they have to work extra hard for every single red cent. They hope the washer doesn’t break down.

I know, I know, material stuff shouldn’t be important, and you can throw tomatoes and other soft fruit at me later, but bear with me for a moment and hear me say that money and material stuff IS important.  Let me explain.

Money is just energy.

Let me repeat that. Money is just energy. Let’s use the analogy of the ocean in place of money.  The ocean is vast, huge, and, in fact, water covers 70% of the earth’s surface.  And it might be my optimism speaking but I don’t see the oceans drying up any time soon.  So water flows in to the ocean and water flows out but the ocean never dries up.  Money is the same way.

Roald Dahl knew this when he brilliantly penned thee most apropos money quote I’ve ever heard in his novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Charlie is thinking of selling his Golden Ticket so his family can eat when Grandpa George tells him, “There’s plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket — There are only 5 of them in the whole world, and that’s all there’s ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?”

Yup. Me and my family are a bunch of dummies – and so are you if you have issues in regards to the green stuff.  Just as the ocean never dries up, neither does energy and so, therefore, neither does money.

Possessions also have energy.

Many of us with money issues believe it’s “evil” to want things.  So, for example, it’s bad to want that nice house with the freshly painted white fence when you already have a roof over your head.  It’s horrible to want those strappy Manolo Blanik’s right?  Nope.  Possessions have energy too and the only requirement for you in the wanting of something is that you love it.

As part of a social media campaign recently I asked people on Facebook, “What’s your favorite material possession.”  (WOW…  this raised some major angst among people.) Most folks appeared to scratch their heads, hem-haw, and not respond at all.  My guess is that these peeps have money issues and believe that they shouldn’t value the possession of a thing. I thought that too, for the longest time, and I would stand upon my pedestal with a golden aura surrounding my head like a halo while I spouted, “you can’t take ‘stuff’ with you when you die.”

But now I beg to differ. When you love a possession – when you truly value it – you’re imbuing that possession with energy. Perhaps the best example is to use an item from your childhood that you still hold on to.  One of my most valued material possessions is a blanket that my Grandma made for me when I was ten. Over the years this blanket has traveled thousands of miles with me.  This blanket has been washed more than I have. It’s vibrant canary yellow color has faded to a dingy off-white.  The stuffing is matted and falling out and sticks to my clothes whenever I huddle beneath it.  But I love this blanket.  Like L. O. V. E. love.  Every time I use it, and feel that feeling of utter comfort, I myself am giving this blanket some of my energy.

My point is that every material possession that you value and love is full of energy.  Haven’t you heard the wise sages and money gurus tell you, over and over, to surround yourself only with that which you love?  To pare down, clean house, de-clutter?  This is why. Because what you love has value and energy.  In the case of my blanket, someone out there in the world made the material that my Grandmother bought in order to make it for me.  Then, of course, there’s the energy of love that my Grandma put into it while she sewed. The postman who delivered it expended energy too as he drove from the post office, down the tree-lined streets of Stevens Drive, to get it to me a few days before Christmas.  You get the point.

Surrounding Yourself with Shit

I’m guessing that 99% of hoarders (or even those folks who just collect a whole lot of shit) have money issues as well, and I’m almost 100% positive that many of these people don’t surround themselves with only things that they love.  Rather, many of them surround themselves, simply, with things; an empty plastic Dr. Pepper bottle, a string cheese wrapper, a sack full of things they picked up from Wal-Mart that they just had to have but have never taken out of the bag.  That, my friends, is NOT honoring your material possessions. I understand that hoarding is an illness and my heart goes out to those struggling with this issue. But, whether you’re a hoarder or not, I imagine that we all hold on to things we don’t love, even after we’ve douched our own personal space.

So… what’s to be done?  How do we reconcile some of these age-old money issues?  How do you figure out how to expend your energy, how to value your energy, and how much to charge for your energy? The first step, I think, is simply to realize that your time, money, possessions, you, yourself, everything is energy.  That’s all I’m asking, even of myself, is to take that first baby step towards not being a dummy.

Melanie Bates

Femme Tales – Truth with Humor

Reprinted with permission from | © Copyright Owning Pink

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