Our VoiceCulture

I’m Not Shopping at Wal-Mart because I like to

Guest Blogger • Aug 10, 2008

“The other day while I was shopping at Wal-Mart…”
No, I can’t admit to people that I shop at Wal-Mart.
“The other day when I was at the grocery…”

This is what I’m telling myself as I’m explaining to people how my daughter lost her mind the other day and I thought quite possibly, loose mine as well.

I’ve stopped myself from saying the “W” word on many occasions or followed it shortly by a brief explanation and apology.

“I only go there when I need to get all my shopping done at once,” or “They are the only place in town that carries such and such for a reasonable price.  I’m sorry I had no other choice.”

On my last visit I truly decided I hated the place both inside and out.  I have to search like a lost tourist looking for a toilet to find anything and when I finally figure out where it is I have to literally jog a half mile to get there before my two year old starts opening the package of tampons I placed in my cart just moments before.  But by the time we get to the dairy section my children are ornamented with them.  Little absorbent cylinders placed just so around a belt loop, in a hair clip or simply dangling from a nostril.  I’m lucky to make it to the register before the milk spoils or someone chokes on a sanitary product.  There have been numerous times I have just walked out of the store with the items left in the cart in isle one hundred and twenty three.  But leaving is not so easy since the parking lot is three miles long and I have no idea which sidewalk I took when leaving my car.

You see me all the time.  I’m crazy looking lady with the mascara down to her cheeks carrying two small but spry little girls like kicking, screaming, fairy-winged sacks of potatoes.

But honestly the experience is not what bothers me- those things happen to me all the time.  Its that little voice in the back of my head that is screaming at me like my daughter did last week; “You’re bad mommy, you’re bad”.  And why am I so bad?  Because I have to shop at a place whose policies I strongly disagree with, whose “bargains are the result of grossly underpaid factory workers and employees, whose pricing undercuts local stores so badly you can’t help to go there for a better deal.  But who can blame me it’s so much cheaper than anywhere else. Now I’m not saying that everyone should go out and shop at Wal-Mart.  If you have another choice take it.  But with my income I can’t justify paying more when I don’t have to.

If Wal-Mart did not exist would I still drag my children through some giant mega store looking for the cheapest hotdogs and Mac and Cheese?  Yes, because I can’t afford to go anywhere else.  So why should I feel bad about making the choice to pay my rent instead of going to my local Co-op.  Right now, this is what I have to do to eat.  I should feel privileged to have a choice about where I go to buy my groceries and that I have so much to choose from once I’m there.  Like millions of other Americans, I am shopping there because I need to.  So the next time I get that look that says “you’re sacrificing your ideals for a cheaper price on bananas” I’ll just have to say I have my list of priorities; making sure my children have enough good food on the table is at the top of it.

*Image gratefully borrowed from Brave New Films photostream on flickr.com/creativecommons

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