Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stumped by Great Value

After all the snow and freezing temperatures that accompanied winter there were lots of trees on the ground. We put in a bid to the state park down the road and bought all the fallen trees to split for firewood. Most of them had been cut into good sized chunks to make for easy removal. He who wields the chain saw picked them up on a trailer and unloaded them behind the barn. He simply let them fall and roll out so that he could go retrieve the next load. We have been pulling them off the pile to split and stack to use. Other than being unsightly, the pile presented no problems until the grass started growing and I was afraid it would become a snake haven. I spent a whole day and lots of energy flipping and rolling them out of the way so that I could mow. But, look at my new flower pot!! I love "found" treasures. A hollow stump or two takes up a good chunk of space in a big garden bed.

A few weeks ago I made my big list and put on my walking shoes for my store stocking. The first one before the pool opens always involves two trips through WalMart to get everything needed. Not this time. To my absolute horror I found them eliminating the fabric department. I need frequent fabric fixes and the nearest Joann's is an hour away! This is a half day event, an hour to get there, an hour to get back and two hours to shop. I never have that kind of time during camping season.

I took advantage of the close-out sales and got some fabric, but it is already in a box to go to Minnesota as outfits for my granddaughters. On to the aisle of pool toys. Used to be a whole long aisle of goggles, swimmies, rafts and rings. I like to keep a nice variety available for my swimmers. There is a certain price point I can't exceed or the stuff will hang there on the wall until it dry rots. I don't do outrageous mark-ups, just enough to pay for my time and trouble to stock it. I was shocked at not only the price increase, but the lack of selection they had. No rafts for my swimmers to turn blue in the face while blowing them up. A pitiful few goggles, I wiped them out and the dive sticks that were so popular last season no longer available. I wanted some 6" clay pots. They had the tiny pots and the giant pots .... nothing in between. I would have settled for 8", but none to be had. I went on to the health and beauty section for toothpaste and antiperspirant. They feature lots of double packed items, supposed to save you money. The Degree was in a two-pack for $4.33. The single was $1.97. Fortunately for me, I can add and I picked up two singles for less than $4.00. Kept me on my toes as I continued to shop the paragon of mega values.

Sam Walton is gone and, apparently, so is the concept of one stop value shopping. The employees seemed dispirited about the changes, too. I was told that soon the Great Value label will dominate the aisles and that there will no longer be a variety of other brands to choose from. I buy generic items all the time. But there are some brands I prefer. Hellmann's mayo, Jif peanut butter, Lays potato chips, to name a few. Argue all you want, they do taste better. Does WalMart think these companies have survived without customer loyalty? I remember when Albany, Georgia got their very first WalMart. We lived there and at the time K-Mart dominated the city with its low prices. It was truly an event and a boost to the economy there. WalMart anchored a shopping center and employed many of the good citizens in that city. While living there I took a part-time job at a fabric store..... The Piece Goods Shop. WalMart was our biggest competitor. WalMart did not have a large fabric department, but as the years went by they increased it and became large enough to swallow up all the small fabric stores and put them out of business. Same with the addition of the WalMart Pharmacy putting your corner drugstore in the hole. In some very small rural areas WalMart has become the only game in town and now they would appear to be streamlining their operation to exclude many of the things that have made them what they are.

Great Value ............. not really a great value. I compare prices like most everyone else and find the Great Value brand to be overpriced on some items. I will no doubt continue to buy things at WalMart, but find myself shopping at other stores more and more. It is no longer the one stop shopping store it once was.


Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

I'm in total agreement with you on this. We finally got a Super Target and although their prices are a bit higher in some areas, their quality is also better. The employees here are much nicer and much more willing to help than our local Wal-Mart has become. Plus, Target is now closer so it's been an easy switch.

ellen abbott said...

Walmart is the store of last resort for me. I much prefer to pay a little more and support what few stores Walmart hasn't put out of business. I just don't care for their business model. I also think that contrary to being a boon to the economy, Walmart contributes to the poverty of a community. They employ people but don't really pay them a living wage, they don't give full time hours so they don't have to give benefits, they strong arm their vendors and threaten to drop them over a penny in the price point, they have their items manufactured in China instead of the US. And now, after putting all the small Mom and Pop stores out of business, you say they are reducing their inventory and raising prices. Get rid of the competition and then you can do whatever you want. Hopefully it will encourage some of the small entrepreneurs to start up again.

Mamma has spoken said...

Where I live we have a lot of competition for Walmart which is great. Except I don't like to shop at Walmart. The one here really does cater to the 'lower income' shoppers with what it stocks. It's a newer store and it's already dirty and junky. Funny thing too is they wanted to build a second one only a mile away but it didn't pass the planning and zoning people.

Rae said...

I hate Walmart, but unfortunately that is the only store left in our town. They ran out all the competition. There are few bargains left too. It is unreal how much the prices on everything have skyrocketed. My shopping bill has doubled and I am buying less. I guess it is a sign of the times. I think all Walmart are getting rid of their fabric departments. I don't understand why. It sure makes it inconvenient when there aren't any other left to shop at.

Hillbilly Mom said...

WalMart is the devil's playground.

Brian Miller said...

yeah, not a walmart fan...we do have a couple local stores we can support...and they are putting in a supper is running the town though...we have 4 within 15 minutes of us...makes it hard for mom and pops...

Jaime said...

i never was really a fan of walmart...until law school anyway. it was the only thing in concord open past 10:00 a lot of nights. well, that and the all night dunkin donuts.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I cut short my thoughts as the swimmers and harried travelers earned the bid for my attention this morning. I worked in the pharmacy at WalMart for a time and because of my work experience as a nurse started out at a higher pay level than most new employees. It was still not enough money for a person to support themselves. Most of WalMarts employees qualify for food stamps and other assistance. WalMart has not only changed their stores, but their benefits for their employees. They are pretty much non-existant. They only provide what is required by law and their health insurance plan is really pathetic. I went to work there to obtain health insurance and it was cheaper for us to purchase our own.

I agree that they have wiped out the competition and now have the monopoly needed to raise their prices at will. I will find myself traveling farther to get our supplies elsewhere. Our Sams membership is coming up for renewal and I think we may just drop that and go to Costco.

I haven't heard any positive comments lately about WalMart and they may just find that shoppers aren't willing to pay more for less. Yes, Hillbilly Mom, it is the devils playground and I for one won't be playing there anymore! If I have to drive an hour to get my fabric fix, then I may as well make a whole day of it and do all my shopping in the big city!

Pat said...

First of all, I love your planter! It looks really nice!

I'm not a big fan of Walmart either, and believe me, they are just about EVERYWHERE!

houndstooth said...

I hate Wal-Mart with the power of a thousand blazing suns! I shop elsewhere whenever I can. They treat their employees horribly, try to elimate free choice for people both by what they carry and by the fact that they try to run every small mom and pop store out of business. If the day comes that Wal-Mart goes up in a pile of smoke, I will gladly dance around the fire!

Alix said...

You are the hardest working woman I know! Where do you get your energy???

LOVE love love the stump planter! How beautiful and imaginative.

But boo on Walmart for taking your fabrics away. Have they no shame???

I'm not a huge Walmart shopper,. My sister is - she even buys her groceries there. I did, however, buy Petrie's little wading pool there, and was amazed by some of the prices. I picked up a cute little bikini and pair of swimmer shorts for cheap! When I told Larry he said, "That's great as long as your conscience doesn't bother you."


"Well, you know all the Asian children working in the sweat shops for 37¢ an hour so you can get a great deal." I laughed, but... he's got a point. Somewhere down the line, someone is getting screwed.

Or not. As it seems your "Roll Back" prices are beginning to thin out.

Great post Kathy. You are one amazing woman. I'd love to see your Kamp some day!

Elizabeth said...

I'm a loyal Target shopper. I can't remember the last time I bought anything at Walmart. They are pretty pitiful to their employees, although their sustainability efforts have been admirable.

Perhaps now that Walmart is discontinuing/scaling back it's fabric department, a smart entrepreneur will fill in the gap...with a small store on Main Street. Someone's gotta fulfill that need. I'm pretty sure there are others who won't want to drive an hour for a fabric fix as well.

Katy said...

Funally enough... living close to the middle of a large city means that there is not a walmart near me. While I use to make the trek to one several miles away I have found, like you that more and more the trek just isn't worth it. I can go there and find a few things I need, but that's not the point of walmart is it?

Whitney Lee said...

I go to Walmart maybe once a month. I know what items I can get a deal on and so I keep a running list of the things I'm going to need (diapers, wipes, paper towels, dog food). Otherwise I shop at Target or the grocery store. Or, if I'm willing to wait for something, I'll shop online. I simply get tired of the overcrowdedness and feeling of despair...

I have also noticed that they've increased their electronics and such while decreasing their sports and outdoor stuff. Frustrating!

I would love it if we had a Costco around here but Sams is it...I use it primarily for drinks and dog food.

Jo said...

I LOVE the flower stump pot. Omigoodness, it looks wonderful...!

Any of the WalMart stores in Vancouver are too far from where I live. I like shopping in little boutique stores in my neighbourhood. I bought a fabulous brushed-steel dish drainer the other day ($10.00), that fits right into my sink. And the little store is only two blocks from my home.

Meggie said...

Your post is so relevant to what is going on over here in Oz. We are getting less choice, & prices always rise when the changes are made!
Do they thin we will not notice?

Angie said...

I couldn't agree with you more with regard to WalMart. I was just in there yesterday after a several-months absence and was appalled. We live in a rural county and I feel so bad for the older people (the older quilting ladies, especially) because there really isn't any place close by for them to buy inexpensive fabrics. I can afford to go somewhere else, but what about those that can't. I do hope this really hits WalMart below the belt line.

Anonymous said...

It seems everyone here is losing sight of some very simple facts regarding Walmart.

1. Walmart operates in a capitalistic economy which thrives on competition. If they raise prices, competition will come back and force them out.

2. Rising prices may not be Walmart flexing their muscle after the competition has left, but a sign of the economy. Remember, oil prices are still far higher than they were five years ago. This makes most things you buy more expensive due to higher manufacturing costs - from food to clothes to toys.

3. There is a lot of bad press about what Walmart pays their employees and what benefits they offer. That somehow suggests that the person performing a similar job at Target, Costco or any other retail store gets better wages and benefits. Really?!? If that were the case, Walmart's employees would leave and go work for the competition.

I'm no raving fan of Walmart because their stores are generally dirty, but their prices are good for many things. But before going on the offensive regarding wages and benefits and capitalism in a free market, do your homework folks.

Nancy said...

I avoid Wallmart like the plague - for all the reasons you spoke about. They dominate and put all the little guys out of business. I'd rather pay a few cents more and keep someone in business. That being said, there is a limit to how much more I will pay. We found many of the stores at Lake Tahoe overpriced their goods - an office supply comes to mind. Then we would head down the hill to the Office Max. But I do try to shop in the mom and pop stores, when I can.

I love your tree trunk planter!

SkippyMom said...

Anon have you ever worked at Walmart or know anyone who has? Just curious.

Their practice of paying woman less than men for the same job and for not promoting qualified woman over less qualified men is well known in the industry.

That is first and foremost the reason I avoid Walmart.

As for going to Target or Costco to find employment - you are comparing apples to oranges in terms of benefits, pay and treatment of employees. Although you are correct that they would be better off because of the better work environment - there are only so many jobs available and where I live no one is hiring. So that seems to be a moot point in this economy.

Anyhow - kathy I love your tree stump planter and now I am eyeballing roadsides and wood piles for one of our own :) You always do a great job decorating/beautifying the campground.

And Pooldad laughed when I told him about the 2/4.33 vs. 1/1.79 - who stocked those shelves anyway? I know the prices are set by corporate but wouldn't someone, somewhere in some WalMart call corporate and say - DUH? lol

Hope the summer is going well.

Sunny said...

I LOVE your planter, very I will be checking logs when we cut firewood!
I shop at Walmart about once a month for items that I know are less expensive but for the most part I try and support locally owned businesses.
☼ Sunny