On a recent trip to Walmart, my friend asked me upon our entrance to the store,”Wanna see something freaky? Look up”. I looked up to the ceiling of the Walmart Supercenter and almost lost my breath as all I could see was neat rows of flourescent lights for what seemed like miles. I made a trip to the same Walmart Supercenter last Friday, November 14, coveniently located in Fredericksburg’s Central Park. I visited the store from about 2:00-3:00 pm; not exactly prime shopping time, yet for some reason, Walmart seems to be frequented by shoppers at all hours of the day. It was a drizzly, gray day, which could have contributed to people spending the day shopping indoors.
Walmart’s newest slogan is “Save money. Live better”. The first Walmart store opened in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. Sam Walton is the father of Walmart, and the source of its namesake. Sam believed in three basic values that Walmart still upholds today: respect for the individual, service to their customers, and striving for excellence. Here, you can watch videos about the history of Walmart. Today there are 7,390 Walmart stores located all over the world that employ over 2 million people. An estimated 200 million customers shop at Walmart each year for millions of different products.
Our local Walmart is a “Supercenter”, which means that a full grocery-store and other specialty services are offered at this location. Upon my entrance to the store, I was immediately overwhelmed by the jolly holiday atmosphere. Christmas trees adorned in red and green ornaments greet you as you walk through the entrance. An entire “Christmas Shop” is located at the back of the store, where customers can find all of their Christmas needs. To the left of the entrance is the grocery store, selling all of the food that a normal grocery store does, including fresh produce, a deli counter and a bakery. Even on a Friday afternoon, the grocery section was teeming with shoppers. I noticed that the prices of the groceries were significantly lower than what I had paid last weekend at Giant.
The Walmart Supercenter offers much more than just discounted groceries. You can buy just about anything here, including clothes, electronics, home furnishings, craft supplies, toys, cosmetics and toiletries, office supplies, lawn care equiptment, sporting goods, jewelry, and even pets! You will also find a fully functioning pharmacy, hair and nail salon, optometrist and vision center, and other specialty “boutiques”. As I was browsing around the store, I found everything from camcorders to Hannah Montana Christmas Tree skirts. Walmart is the epitome of a “one-stop shop”, making it popular for working class families who don’t have a lot of time to run from place to place doing errands.
The shoppers at Walmart were your typical Fredericksburg crowd: parents with children, elderly couples, single moms, students, and even a few businessmen and women who must have gotten off work early. The shoppers seemed to range from lower to middle class. These are the types of “regular joes” that the presidential candidates referred to as “real America” – the kinds of Americans who need to save money whenever possible. This is why Walmart has been so successful over the past 40 years. People of any socioeconomic status can afford to furnish their home with nice things for themselves and their families.
I visit Walmart often. For the past two years I have had a leadership position on the CCM council, and it has been my responsibility to run errands for the center. We go to Walmart since it is significantly cheaper to buy things like groceries and cleaning supplies there. I usually run errands like these once a week, so I’m very familliar with our friendly Fredericksbug Supercenter. I have always noticed that Walmart is good about hiring older people, immigrants, and people with disabilities. They seem like an equal-opportunity employer to me. On Friday, I purchased a roll of pink ribbon. The friendly African American woman at the cash register asked me, “Is that it for today, Big Spender?” I laughed and said thank you and good-bye, which she replied to with “Have a blessed day, Big Spender!” Things like that make me feel almost like I’m at a local general store, and not at a huge corporate chain. But then I remember to look up at the sea of flourescent lights…