The Walmart Trap
Jul. 6, 2010 8:35 am
Updated: Aug. 13, 2010 9:30 am
I took a trip to the grocery store yesterday. Not too crazy, right? I mean, people do it every day. But not me. Sadly, I cannot recall when the last time was that I stepped into an actual grocery store. I'm a Walmart mom. I don't know when exactly
this happened; it was a gradual decline in sanity and a need for convenience, that much I do know. But I'm not sure when I actually fell into the trap. It took a stroll around a beautiful, clean, quiet grocery store to snap me out of my Walmart trance.
I'm awake now, and it feels GOOD!
Back in the days before kids (and when I only had one to tote around) it was no big deal to hop from grocery store to grocery store to farmer's market to Costco in order to get the best deals. It was actually fun to find great prices and save all that money.
I was the coupon queen, and would spend the better part of my Wednesday morning looking at the grocery store flyers, circling the best sales and sorting through my coupons while making my grocery lists. Then, armed with my arsenal of papers and organizers
I'd hit all the local stores usually making it to about six of them before the end of the day. Maybe I'm just really weird, but it was always a thrill to come home, add up the receipts and then calculate the savings. It's completely addicting.
When baby number two came along it got a little bit harder. Grocery carts will only hold one child, and pushing a double stroller while pulling a cart is a little bit disastrous through narrow aisles, not to mention inconvenient hauling a 40 lb stroller in
and out of the back of a SUV while getting two kids in and out of carseats in 110 degree heat during the AZ summer. When baby number three was born (that's three in three years, mind you) I gave up completely. The siren's call of ad matching and one stop
shopping was too much to resist. I did my shopping at Walmart. Most items were cheaper there than the regular prices at grocery stores, and items like shampoo and cleaning supplies were MUCH cheaper, so I stopped killing myself with multiple trips and settled
in to a life of suburban mom/Walmart shopper. What I slowly started noticing was that even though Walmart would match the sales prices at grocery stores, the meats and produce were a little.....ugh. It was easier to grab a family size bag of potato chips
than a bag of apples that had a 50/50 chance of being mealy and tasting like cardboard. Slowly slowly I became the lady that feeds her kids fruit rollups instead of fruit, and tater tots instead of carrot sticks. Our beautiful organic whole grain and flax
sandwich bread from the farmer's market got swapped for Orowheat potato bread. Sure I noticed the funny looks that Hubs was giving me when I was serving our beautiful little boys corndogs and fries for dinner, but I had my Walmart blinders on. By the time
we've fulfilled our grocery list (and woefully few items on the list were sales ad matches) and thrown all of our treats/impulse buys/toys into the cart (we are shopping with three little boys in a store with a huge toy department, after all), I can't get
out of Walmart for under $150. In fact according to AMEX, we spent $700 at Walmart alone last month. And I don't do all of our grocery shopping there; about half of it is still done at Costco. No wonder we're broke!
Yesterday I realized we didn't have any eggs, or lunch meat for Hubs lunches, so I left two bambinos at home and took our middle boy with me to the grocery store a couple of miles down the street. It's the first time I'd ever been there, and we've lived in
this house for over a year. I walked into a wonderland; a beautiful, clean utopia of displays, friendly people, and oh my gosh the selection!! It was so quiet there; no overly harsh lighting, no television monitors blaring in my face; I didn't have to maneuver
around huge pallets of stuff while people were stocking the shelves. The deli manager stepped out to chat and tickle my little boy. Did you hear me? Someone SPOKE to us!! I wandered around for a good half hour in utter awe. By the end of my trip I had
purchased two dozen organic eggs, 2 lbs of lunch meat, a loaf of (good) bread, 3 lbs of golden delicious apples and a pound of gorgeous rainier cherries. My grand total was $25. What have I been doing all this time??? I fell into the inconvenient trap of
convenience shopping. This is how America ends up fat and broke, and as smart as I like to think I am, apparently I wasn't smart enough to see it. I can't say I'll never shop at Walmart again, but I think it's time to make some serious changes to the way
I've been doing things in our home. We're going back to buying real food in a real grocery store with real people. Last week I was Walmart's biggest fan, I really didn't see why they were so vilified all the time, but I get it now. I'm so excited to go
grocery shopping next week!