Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Wal-Mart Lament

We were looking for an inflatable boat. I had no idea about prices, makes or models. I checked online, got an idea of various designs and prices and began searching for a nearby retailer.
As usual I waited for the last minute. It was Friday night, and the event was less than 24 hours away. Our town was sponsoring a Go Green Parade of non-motorized water vehicles such as kayaks, canoes, rafts, surfboards – anything an individual wanted to maneuver on the water without a motor.
We have two kayaks. Our Colorado contingent is visiting and we wanted the two older kids, ages 7 and 4, to participate along with a parent or two. An inflatable boat would also be a nice addition to our summer recreational equipment.
I located available boats at the nearest Walmart, 20 minutes away. The web site indicated the store had the boat in stock. I called the store. They were open until midnight, but when transferred to sporting goods – I wanted to verify the boat was actually available in the store – no one answered the phone. I finally gave up.
Hub and I optimistically headed out to the store about 9:30 p.m. The store was humming. We beeline to sporting goods and, after several minutes wandering the aisles, had that sinking feeling. No boats in sight. We asked two salesclerks. Summer stuff was no longer in stock – all sold.
We were tired, disappointed and – to put it mildly - pissed off. This was what I expected of Wal-mart, but for once I was hoping to be satisfied and pleased. I do not like shopping at Wal-Mart. I find the stores too big, crowded (with both people and merchandise), disheveled, and – like this experience – unsatisfactory.
I am also not a fan of the Wal-Mart Corporation. Women have sued the company for discrimination. They lost, but that does not mean the company’s denials are credible. The majority of jobs at Wal-Mart do not pay enough to support a family. They are not known for their willingness to offer, or their generosity concerning, benefits. They espoused their American-made products while many parts and products are produced overseas. They have been caught using illegal immigrants for some work.
In my ideologically positive world this humongous company would be a model for offering a living wage, decent benefits, a positive work environment and be an example of a diverse, successful work force.
Enough dreaming. Back to reality…
The inflatable boat was purchased at Dick’s sporting goods, another one of those super box stores. The boat parade is this afternoon. Stay tuned…