It’s no big secret that I’m not a big fan of Walmart. I avoid it to the best of my ability. When I’m not disgusted with it’s corporate practices I’m hyperventilating at the thought of entering the eternally echoing aisles of crap piled so high I feel like I’m going to die in a mess of Christmas albums with the word Redneck in the title. The enochlophobic claustrophobe in me can’t deal with the place and somehow blaming the corporation itself for all of the world’s ills makes me feel better. Everyone needs a scape goat, right? Now that we’re straight on that, I can tell my tale.
So the other day I get a little catalog in the mail. At first glance I think, “oh neat, Pottery Barn has spawned a cheaper little brother!”. Right down to the font choices, layout, and lighting it mirrored one of my favorite covet books. I flip it over to see where it came from and there’s a return address of Pewakee, WI (not exactly Bentonville, folks). I read on. Every page has canopyliving.com next to the page numbers and quippy little sayings about how these items will fit seamlessly into my life. “Turn off the cell phone. Eat Cereal on the sofa. Turn on some cartoons. Relax, it’s Canopy”. It was more J. Peterman than Sam Walton’s 5 and dime. I become more and more curious about this Canopy store, picturing the items in my home etc.. As I turn the pages I find myself drawn to the simple clean lines and somewhat affordable prices. And then, page 26… TWENTY SIX PAGES IN, folks! There is what appears to be just another expertly staged room. On the terribly classy looking Home Office Desk - a “smartly outfitted” piece of allegedly hardwood furniture - there’s a laptop. The homepage on the screen (you have to squint a bit): Walmart.com. Doh! I turn a few more pages and there it is - Customer Service Call 1-800-WALMART. Arrrgggghhhhhhhhhh!
So it’s not enough that the blue and gray boxes are spreading like a virus all over the country spinning off into “neighborhood markets” and supercenters the size of Kansas while squashing small town economies and indenturing low income workers with laughable or no benefits. Now they’re masquerading as tasteful. Now before you jump my crap and wave the whatserbucket is an elitist bee-yotch who deserves to be locked in Sams Club for life flag I beg of you to at least admit that when the name Walmart comes up the first thing that comes to your mind is NOT “oh yeah, that place is JUST like Pottery Barn - so chic!”. You don’t immediately imagine designer-influenced product lines that could at first glance be compared to high-end or even handcrafted items. You think “cheap”, right? I mean that’s the thing I hear from people - “it’s SO much CHEAPER than everywhere else, though!” and “if we don’t shop at Walmart we really can’t get as much!”. Cheap is admittedly a loaded term that can mean lots of stuff to lots of people both in terms of quality and price. Don’t get me wrong, I like cheap, I “get” cheap, and I seek cheap to some degree (otherwise I would not have been excited about the “cheaper Pottery Barn” in my mailbox). I just loathe Walmart. I’ve gathered and am aware that my loathing is, in and of itself, perceived as a luxury to some people.
The thing is I was unaware that Walmart was even TRYING to represent itself as anything but the cheapest place to get stuff. I had no idea they were now leaning to anything other than blatant price slashing and emphasis on the bottom line. I mean what happened to the smiley face antenna bobbers and hostile negotiating with vendors to get rock bottom prices on jugs a plenty of pork rinds? When did Walmart step into the sheep’s clothing? I heard rumors they were going to be going “‘greener” by providing organic products and building token energy efficient stores to appeal to a more “liberal” (another loaded term) demographic but this not-so-subtly veiled marketing really caught me off guard. It was the catalog equivalent of the “Pradda” handbags and “Rulex” watches pedaled on street corners.
Psssttttt…. can you tell I’m PMS-ing? I haven’t posted in weeks and THIS of all things gets me riled up enough to vent in blog land. It’s not like Pottery Barn isn’t imported mass produced crap designed to appeal to the least common denominator, too (rolling eyes at myself). I need to go to bed.
Ok now you can go off on how hard hearted I am about America’s favorite place to shop and how you can feed your whole family for so much less and its so darn convenient and without falling prices you couldn’t afford that rabbit-in-a-dress vacuum cleaner cover.
Edited to add that comment #51 tries to clarify my intent with this post.