For many, many years, Walmart was my place to shop. I was thrilled that I could go to one place and find everything that I needed for the week. And yes, I went every week. I would generally start in the garden section in the warmer months, browsing the plants and looking for deals. Then would come the shampoo and toothpaste aisles. Of course I would swing through the clothes section, always shopping the clearance racks. Then the last, and most expensive part of the trip would be the groceries. This was my routine and I thoroughly enjoyed it, sometimes dragging several children along with me.
Last night, my husband and our youngest went to Walmart. Long gone are the days I mentioned above! That store is now my least favorite, and I don’t even know all the reasons why. But of course I’m going to list a few here for your enjoyment! And remember, for the past several years, even getting me into a Walmart is a chore.
- The prices are not what they once were. Yes, there are some deals still. I usually get my Tide and Downey there. Some things like mini-blinds and curtain rods are still reasonable.
- Gone are the racks of children’s clothing on clearance with prices marked down to $.50 for a shirt or shorts. I once shopped a full season ahead, praying the clothes would still fit by the time our children could wear them without freezing or roasting. To be fair, prices are higher for everything everywhere. But last night, the clearance rack was not a deal. I know because I had just spent the better part of my day shopping online for children’s clothing. I found better deals there.
- The atmosphere is not the same as it once was. Maybe I’m coming at it with a different perspective now. My days are fairly quite with a twelve-year old at home. Going shopping isn’t a calming experience. I think that all those hours spent in Walmart were my salvation, my opportunity to connect with the rest of the world and know there was one out there! It was my little treat, and all it cost me was the price of my groceries.
- People everywhere are over-worked, over-stressed, over-stimulated and just plain depressed about their lives in general. That just kind of oozes out when you are in places like Walmart in my opinion. The clerks usually growl at you, the customers don’t make eye-contact, even if their phone isn’t in front of their face. It just isn’t a fun place to be. And if you are there late as we were last night, the truck is being unloaded…and don’t try to shop then! You have to be one fantastic cart-driver to get around that obstacle course! And don’t even think of browsing a shelf. If you can move the pallet of boxes in front of what you need, you’d better be quick. That Walmart associate has a job to do, and you’re not part of it.
Farmer’s Markets seem to be calling me. When I had several children trailing behind, they didn’t feel like a responsible way to spend my money or time. I wanted to leisurely choose my goods in that environment, maybe sip on a coffee and have a bagel as I chatted with other friendly people and vendors. Plus, to purchase in bulk and get all my shopping done in one place probably wasn’t going to happen at a farmer’s market when all five children were at home.
This photograph reminds me of a place called the Carrot Barn. It was located in Schoharie County, upstate New York in the Catskills region. The place smelled earthy and fresh. There was local produce, some clothing, some antiques and always a friendly person. They even had delicious baked goods. And there was always music playing. Calming, soothe-your-soul music. Even to this day, our children will hear a song and comment that it sounds like Carrot Barn music.
Those are the memories I want to make now!
This last picture is included because I just think that’s neat! What a way to store shopping carts! Try getting one of those unlocked!
Shopping should be as it once was. Picture the Waltons, barefoot children trailing into the store greeting Mr. Godsey. They always had something to talk about, he gave them candy. Sometimes he would make a special purchase possible, even when the money wasn’t there right then. Going to the store was a time to visit, to catch up on the town’s happenings. I can even smell the atmosphere…the earthy, fresh aroma of ground coffee beans, leather, spices and the oiled wood floor. And now…