Our town supported two grocery stores and had a lively old-fashioned town square. That changed when the doors of our 24 hour SuperCenter opened just off the highway. One grocery closed its doors and several franchise fast foot restaurants sprang up around it as the business center of town shifted. I have read the articles attesting to Walmart's founding, its remarkable growth, and the fortunes of the Walton family (it has funded the development of the Crystal Bridges facility I mentioned in Wednesday's post).
I have read critical articles discussing its business practices and had direct encounters with long term employees. I have seen the websites that poke fun of the unconscious way people dress to shop there. I know that the role of their greeters is changing. I shop there myself about once a month, primarily for office supplies (ie, printer cartridges). But over the years I have purchased some clothing there--watches, a gigant red nightgown, underwear, a pair of jeans, and flip-flops when they are marked down to a dollar at the end of the season. Last spring, I purchased a tube of Equate's version of Jergen's Natural Glow.
The pictures in my collage where snapped early on a Sunday afternoon, after church and before football. I went with a short list of items I wanted to price, thinking they might be of interest to Rags readers. In the top row of photos, you'll see items from the cosmetics department. I was surprised to find CKOne, a scent I wore for a while 20 years ago. I cringed at the prices for women's anti-aging products though I don't use any of these. I was pleased to see a fairly extensive display of Burts Bees products and at least 32 patterns of Sally Hansen's Salon Effects nail polish strips. I found the bottle of Valerian root I wanted to help promote my "beauty sleep." I found a watch very much like the classic Timex I replace every two years or so. I think the last time I purchased one of these Indiglo style watches, I paid $30. The imitations were just $7.88. Friendship bracelets sat in a basket atop the jewelry counter for .50.
I'll soon need to get over my furtive sense of snapping photos as I shop, but as I wandered through the women's clothing I wondered to what degree each Walmart tailors its clothing merchandise to the local customer base. At this Walmart, there was a generous supply of velvet running suits, leggings, sweat pants & shirts, as well as yoga pants by Danskin. There were stacks of the Faded Glory jeans, a brand I once purchased ($10.88)when I discovered I was without jeans during a chilly weekend at the Lake. There were novelty t-shirts and gear to represent K-State or KU, whichever of our state teams a shopper might support.
There were scarves and belts and caps and straw bags for those who are eager for spring to arrive. There was a full range of shapewear and undies in all cuts and fabrics and colors. For years, I have purchased my cotton modified bikinis for no more than a $1 a pair. I suppose I could still find that price if I waited for a sale, but on this day only the "Faded Glory" brand offered 3 pair for $2. I liked the sock monkey slippers and the leopard ballerina flats at $3. might have tempted me had they been in the right size.
One thing that sets "my" Walmart apart from the one that may be in your area is a fabric department. A customer can still purchase notions by the yard, as well as basic yard goods. You can sit on a stool and browse patterns if you're so inclined. Here, you can find fabric tape and glue. Some of the patterns were not as expensive as I thought they'd become.
Shybiker to mind, was the dressing area. Typically, an employee sits at the desk in this "unisex" dressing area. You'll see stalls for women, the disabled and men all in this centralized area. And while, most women might not give a second thought to trying on menswear in a women's room, other shoppers have a different set of challenges. I'm curious how many of us would utilize a unisex dressing area. And I'm curious to know or hear about your experiences at your neighborhood Walmart. Is it a love/hate relationship?