The other day I was standing in a checkout lane in Wal-Mart. Normally when I’m at the checkout, I look at tabloid headlines wondering if anyone actually believes those things, or I’m thinking that those candy bars look awfully good, but this time, for whatever reason, I did something different. I listened. Not to anyone talking or to the canned music – I listened to the scanners ringing up items. Beep. Beep. Beep. Normally I tune that sound out. I imagine people working the registers must here that beep in their sleep. But for some reason, I focused on that beeping sound coming from the register in front of me, the registers to the sides, the ones beyond those. All that beeping, taken together, sounded like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. As I listened to those beeps, the thought suddenly dawned on me that every single beep is a few pennies, a couple quarters going to Wal-Mart. And then just as suddenly, after a grueling, crowd-filled shopping trip, I realized – I didn’t want to shop at Wal-Mart ever again. It’s not that I have anything against companies making a profit. And I certainly don’t have any beefs against everyday low prices. I was just sick and tired of Wal-Mart.
I thought about this on the way home. How could I avoid shopping at Wal-Mart? To understand my dilemma you have to know one thing about me – I’m cheap. I suppose the nice way to put it is that I’m frugal. I love saving money. The more I save, the happier I am. Now I was a bit worried. My earlier resolve to never return to Wal-Mart was shaken. But as I thought about it, a plan started to develop.
The only reason my wife and I shop at Wal-Mart is that it’s cheap. It’s not for the smiley faces and the comatose greeter at the front door. We save money going there -and that’s the bottom line. Or is it?
Five Easy Steps to Breaking the Wal-Mart Habit
1. Shop the Sales – Everyday low process are kind of like those no-haggle car dealerships. You might save a little bit overall, but the real bargains are being missed. Now my personal theory on sales at grocery stores is that they put some items on sale and raise the prices of others. But, if you just go in and buy nothing but sales items, you can save some serious green.
2. Buy in Bulk – There are certain things our local Wal-Mart never seems to have a deal on, one of which is ground beef. Wait for a sale on an item like this and buy enough to last until the next sale. Sure you might have to get an extra freezer to hold all of it, but it’s a great way to save money.
3. Clearance Items – Other retailers in our area seem to have many more clearance items than our local Wal-Mart. Maybe Wal-Mart is better run, and doesn’t have to put as much merchandise on clearance. Whatever the reason, I can save more when I find clearance sales. Every time you shop, check the clearance racks – you never know what things you might find.
4. Shop Off-Season – The best time to buy seasonal items is right after the season has ended. You can save a load of money shopping ahead for next year.
5. Know Where the Bargains Are – Every store seems to have certain items they continuously sell cheaper than the competition. For example, our local convenience store sells milk for the same price as Wal-Mart, which is a dollar cheaper than the closest grocery store. So when I fill up with gas, I go inside and get a gallon of milk.
These are just a few of the many ways you can avoid Wal-Mart, or at least minimize the number of times you have to stand in line and listen to those beeping Wal-Mart registers.