I'll just come out and say it: I shop at Walmart.
I've had many irritating experiences at Walmart over the years after which I've determined to never to go back, but I always do, and for one simple reason: I can get everything I need to survive at that one store.
There was a time in my life where I would go wherever the sales were, then to my favorite produce store before making one last stop at the store where they hand out Smarties to the kids. That was back when I had only one or two young children. These days, I'm pushing a cart with a shop-lifting toddler strapped in front, an infant car seat straddled across the back and three other children climbing on, hanging from and pulling said cart in various directions. One store is all I can take.
During my weekly visits to Walmart, I've come to the conclusion that my household has a lot in common with our go-to store. For example:
1. Changing Customer Demand.
I never know what my kids will eat from one day to the next. One day my son loves beans and bananas, and the next he is only willing to consume toast and cereal. One month my pre-teen daughter eats three times as much as me, and the next she is barely hungry. Back in business school, we studied Walmart's on demand inventory system where they keep track of everything sold throughout the day and only truck in what each store needs to restock. It's a brilliant system. What I don't understand is why they don't teach it in parenting classes.
2. Nighttime Congestion.
Sometimes, I'm lucky enough to hit Walmart at night when I can go without my adorable entourage. The problem with nighttime shopping is the entire store is restocking for the next day. The aisles are so filled with boxes and containers waiting to be shelved that it can be difficult to navigate a clear path for your cart.
My house also has a clutter problem at night. It is caused by the 12-hour play period my toddler just enjoyed, or the art project my girls spent the day on.
3. Customer Service.
I am not above asking a Walmart employee to help me find something I need. It could be that I don't know where the product is stored, or it may be that a previous customer has picked something up and returned it to the wrong place. Either way, I need assistance discovering the lost item. This is just like my house. I receive requests to help locate lost items regularly throughout the day, both from my children and from my husband. I leave my assigned post behind the kitchen counter often to gather shoes from the yard, backpacks from some random spot on the floor, and toys from the hallway.
4. Out of Stock.
Just a couple of months ago, I was in Walmart searching for boots to go with my daughter's Halloween costume. They had the size above and the size below, but not the size I came in for. We have this problem regularly at my house. My 10-year-old will come down for school in a shirt that is covering a mere two-thirds of her torso. My 5-year-old's only clean leotard is tight enough to be looking extremely uncomfortable in the crotch area, and my son grows out of his shoes at a super-human rate. Wouldn't it be nice if they could always find what they need in the right size?
5. Parking Lot Danger.
I'm always a little on edge while driving through a Walmart parking lot. You never know when a child will dart from behind a car, someone will start backing into you or an un-returned cart will come rolling down the pavement. feel much the same way at home in my driveway. Someone will escape the house, running, in a last, desperate attempt to go with me. The neighbor will be flying by on their skateboard or my short drive in reverse is brought to an abrupt halt by the grim discovery that one of the kids left their bike right behind my van.
6. Open 24/7.
You can always count on Walmart to be open, whether it be the middle of the night or for that last item you forgot Thanksgiving morning. I am always available too. My baby wakes me up at night to eat. My son is up and ready to play with the sun, and I'm available for those late evening, "I can't fall asleep mom," visits. My family still expects to eat on holidays and sick days, I've learned, are for people who haven't had children yet.
7. People Keep Coming Back.
It's true. People keep going back to Walmart, myself included. We may be annoyed sometimes, but it works for us and we need it. Happily, this is also like my home. My kids get off the school bus every day and walk back to my door. hey may get frustrated sometimes with me or their lack of clean laundry, but they need me and somehow our crazy household works for them.
Good luck on your next shopping trip, and don't forget the milk!