Saturday, January 8, 2005

Exercise in Futility

This morning I attempted something that I would never advise anyone else to do. Jason wanted to take Juli out to play in the snow so he asked if I could go buy a sled and a pair of snow boots for her. (Luckily her snowsuit from last year still fits, but the boots- not so much.) Anyway, did you know that it is patently impossible to puchase winter items such as sleds and snow boots in the month of January? It's like trying to buy a swimsuit in July. You just can't. I also needed to pick up an ice scraper for the car, which is a dumb thing to need to buy this time of year too. After going up and down the automotive aisle in Target, throwing my hands in the air in frustration , I finally turned to corner to see a massive empty wall of shelves with little labels on them that read "Scraper $5.99". With nothing behind them. A whole wall. Amazingly enough at the very end, nestled in the corner, lived the tiniest, loneliest looking ice scraper I have ever seen and I made it mine.

This was the easy part of my shopping trip.

Over in the shoe section, I discovered that I could puchase multiple pairs of flowery flip-flops and sparkly Barbie sandals if I pleased- no problem whatsoever. Boots, though? What am I, crazy? It's January 8th already, people! Time to buy bikinis and blow-up kiddie pools and halter tops! What kind of person buys articles of clothing that are pertinent to the weather going on outside? Apparently not anyone who shops at Target, since people were poring over the new spring items like mad.

*As a side note, I also discovered today that Target has debuted a large new section of their store where they sell decorative home items that look like they came from the Cost Plus World Market store. Number one: I'm already proud of myself from resisting shopping regularly at the Cost Plus since I would no doubt drop a large sum of money there. Number two: As if Target needs to receive more money from me than they already do. Isn't it enough that the Super Target by me has a grocery store inside with an awesome produce and deli department? Enough already. /End side note.

Back to my shopping excursion. I was lucky enough to find a pair of snow boots across the street at Kohl's and they were 50% off so lucky me! For now. I still had to find a sled because what good are boots and a snowsuit with no sled? I was racking my brain trying to figure out where to go next, and since the Toys R Us was too far to drive to, my only option was the Axis of Evil that I never ever set foot in, otherwise known as Wal-Mart. Now, I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart's business practices for starters but when it comes down to it, the main overriding reason why I refuse to shop there is because it is unorganized to an ungodly degree, always overcrowded, and generally one of the most frustrating places I have ever shopped at. I haven't been there in years though and since I really couldn't come home without a sled I went there anyway.

Why, oh why did I think I could walk into a Wal-Mart on a Saturday morning, quickly buy one item and get out of there?

THIRTY MINUTES LATER I exit the store- but with my sled! Yahoo! My only option was a blow-up one that looks like an inner tube without the hole in it, but Jason and Juliana are outside playing with it right now so it's apparently a success. My biggest complaint with Wal-Mart though is this: If you know you have such a massive volume of people charging through your store with shopping carts every day, why on earth do you insist on putting displays in the middle of every single ailse? Why? The best thing about Target is the fact that they have wide open aisles. I never have to press myself up against some shelves of crackers or shampoo or smush into the wall in order to get to where I need to go. It also doesn't take me five whole minutes to walk from one end of the store to the other and I never spend twenty minutes in the check out line.

Of course, Target doesn't have blow-up sleds in January.


  1. Although I think your question, "why on earth do you insist on putting displays in the middle of every single aisle," was probably at least semi-rhetorical, I thought you might be interested in this. I watched a special on MPTV a while ago about Wal-Mart, and in it they explicitly stated that the little displays in the middle of the aisle are part of Sam Walton's marketing "genius." Apparently he was one of the first retailers to do this, and the purpose is to lure shoppers to the corresponding aisle. Mrs. Jones walks down the aisle, sees a toaster on display On Sale! for only $4.99. The toaster displayed is purposely cheap and probably of a lesser quality than what Mrs. Jones wants, so she proceeds to go down the aisle and purchase a similar, but more expensive, model. This may seem like a rather obvious strategy now, but back in the day, this was an entirely new idea and revolutionized Walton's business, giving rise to the monolithic horror that is Wal-Mart today.
    Not that any of this is news to you, but I was really disgusted to sit there and watch and listen to exactly how the whole deviant plan is working. It made me feel so dirty, and now that's all I can think about when I think of Wal-Mart (and the bumper carts, and the mess...).
    Side note: For an interesting perspective on what it's like to be a Wal-Mart employee, check out the book I'm reading right now, Nickle and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich. I think I linked it on my site.
    Ending comment now before it turns into a post of its own... (sorry!)

  2. I've been meaning to read that book.
    Ethan and I call it the Evil Empire, but once in a great while we have to succumb to their marketing genius--even if it is evil--because they always have what we need when Target doesn't... as in your case with the boots.
    We still haven't bought J a sled, and at this point we probably won't for this winter. How sad is that? I hate the way spring stuff is up as soon as Christmas stuff is taken down. Blah!