What does this logo mean to you?
As I logged onto MSN this afternoon, a link to an article over the company's recent revamping asked me that very question. The idea, in part, is to cast a new airy image of a green-thumbed, nature-loving environmentalist. The bold letters and the dash have gone the way of the waste basket for a trendy new font of the young millennium. Will the shiny new welcoming turn teenage girls away from The Gap and American Eagle Outfitters for a glimmer of the mega store's hip new appearance?
Now, I don't really know what this logo means to you or, for that matter, what all it is intended to mean. However, I can tell you that it doesn't translate to me as anything different than the old one and that would be a pure, relentless nightmare.
Before I go any further, I do not in any way want to offend any Walmart (notice I didn't whip out the hyphen or the CAPS LOCK?) employees or stock holders. I understand that you need to make a living and, while I don't own any Walmart paper, I would if it worked for our portfolio. We all have to make a buck. With that said, God bless you people who do manage to work there without breaking into the gun display and taking out a few clueless assholes. Ten minutes inside that place and I feel like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. I just want to bang my head as I walk in a tight circle while spitting out, "This is definitely NOT a safe highway. Definitely, definitely not a safe highway."
So, this year for Lent, I decided to give Walmart up. I've known for years that the discount conglomerate extinguishes the commerce of our locally-owned stores, but after reading Free Lunch by David Clay Johnston, I learned just how septic this system is for the livelihood of the entire community.
Don't get me wrong, I love the cheap shit. If you know me, you can solidly confirm that. You sell me 8 cups of shredded Colby Jack cheese for $6 and I am going to be pretty damn motivated for loyalty. Not to mention that, it's all there under one roof. I mean, if you need diapers, tires, fishing lures, a Barbie doll, lubricants, scrapbook card stock or a maternity shirt, it's immediately at your disposal. And that's plenty of incentive for this mother of 2.
When I decided to give Walmart up for the short term, honestly I thought it would be difficult. Frankly, I didn't think I would make it and, in the off chance that I did, I thought I would be storming the doors as soon as the Easter eggs hit my kids' baskets.
Much to my dismay, that wasn't the case. In fact, after a week or two, I didn't even realize I wasn't going to Walmart any longer. It just seemed natural to pick up any toiletries at the drug store, our household supplies at the local general store and all our food at a locally-owned grocery store chain. And I wasn't spending any more money than before the Walmart hiatus. Sure, I was definitely paying more than $6 for 8 cups of cheese, but I also wasn't indulging in the last minute impulse purchases of worthless crap made somewhere other than the USA. Remember when we all waxed patriotic when that a million-year-old Sam Walton would boast of the quality of American goods and the folks who made them? Well, Sam's gone and those days went with him.
Although I wasn't looking forward to ever going back inside Walmart, before our cruise, I really didn't have a choice. While I can pick up most my supplies locally, most stores are too small to actually hold everything one might need.
As soon as I went in, the strangest thing happened. I wanted out of that giant building as though the damn thing was on fire. It was, as it always is, total chaos. This particular store has out-grown its building, so the aisle are littered with random items and random people. It seems that the general manger is actually planning to stock each and every last inch. The store is also wildly understaffed, so about 10 people stood in three different check-out lines. While few people are actually employed at this Walmart, those who do more than earn their wages. I worked for years at the Pizza Hut franchise, so I have sympathy for these miracle workers. The entire experience was just an unholy mess. As I sprinted out the automatic doors as though I was stuffed with stolen goods, I realized I didn't have that same feeling when I was in any of the locally owned businesses.
So, what does this logo mean to me? Not a damn thing. It is my earnest feeling that this will be as cluttered and crazy as it was when the BOLD WAL-MART reigned supreme.