Oct 26 2014
My friend and I arrived at Walmart in Central Park on Friday October 24th at 11:15am. The weather was in the mid 60’s, but a little cloudy. I do not think the weather had a huge affect on Walmart shoppers as it would have if they were shopping outdoors, downtown. The consumers coming to Walmart came in their own cars and the Fred bus system is another option as well. The transportation that I observed for retail good was big delivery trucks that said “Walmart” on the side. I see these trucks often while driving and saw one while parking on Friday as well. The employees of Walmart would also have the same transportation as consumers- cars or public transportation. I do not think that people either shopping at or working at Walmart would ride bikes or walk like people do in the downtown area because it is located in a huge shopping center and not very close to residential areas.
The type of retail space for this would be a big chain store. Walmart was also divided into different types of space like “Market,” “Home & Pharmacy,” and “Outdoor Living.” There were also a few other “stores” inside such as Mcdonald’s and two different beauty salons. The shoppers that I observed were both black and Caucasian. There were couples, parents with their children, and people who were by themselves. It looked as if people of the working class would shop at this retail space. The consumers at Walmart were dressed casually; no one was in any type of business clothes. The selling patterns that I observed were not geared towards a specific type of individual. People come to Walmart looking for anything from food to clothes to power tools. There was a seasonal section and displays geared toward this season.
The sections of the store that I decided to observe more closely were Toys, Seasonal, and Grocery. In the toy isle the first thing that struck me was the amount of color that made up this section. I saw infants toys and toys for teenagers. This section looked like it was divided by brand. The sections that I saw were Fisher Price, Playdoh, Imaginext, Leap Frog, My Life and Laugh & Learn. I walked down the Barbie isle and immediately was surrounded by pink. I took note of the face that all the Barbie’s were in pink boxes, but there was one box that was blue with a boy Barbie. This here shows me that these products are clearly geared towards one gender, as they associate the colors with the gender of the kid who “should” want this product. The next section I went in was Seasonal and the entire part of the store was geared towards Christmas. There were outdoor decorations, fake Christmas trees, blow-up lawn decorations, indoor decorations and products for wrapping presents. Even though Christmas isn’t for another 2 months, it did not surprise me that this section was already set up for this holiday. I think that if we came a few weeks earlier, the seasonal section would have been set up for Halloween. The last section that I walked through was the Grocery section. Most of the signs that I saw were offering “4 for $3” or “2 for $10.” There was a good amount of shelves in one isle that was filled with Halloween candy. I noticed a group of shelves that had foods for Thanksgiving (although it didn’t say specifically). These shelves had yams, canned cranberries, potatoes, stuffing, and green beans. This section reminded me of a normal grocery store, but with very low prices.
Most of the employees that I observed were older women. There were many older women who were working the cash registers or walking in and out of isles restocking merchandise. I did observe some male employees, but I definitely saw more women than men. The employees that I saw were also black or Caucasian. I also noticed an older man who looked like a manager talking to a consumer at the front of the store. Food, clothes, toys, beauty products, home furnishings, sporting equiptment, and electronics are some of the types of merchandise that Walmart sells. Like I noted earlier, this retail space can be described as convenient for shoppers because it sells a wide variety of products. The connection that I make with Walmart in Fredericksburg is different than the connection I make with Walmart back at home in NY. Here in Fredericksburg I got to Walmart sometimes because it is in Central Park, at a good location close to campus. It is surrounded by so many other retail spaces that make it easy to find what you want. Back at home, however, I have more of a disconnection because there isn’t a Walmart close to me. Up until coming to school in Fredericksburg, I rarely shopped at Walmart because it was not an option for me. The only unusual thing that I saw while walking through the store was a man with a full facial/head tattoo. This observation just furthered my previous observations about the huge range of types of people that come to shop, or even work at Walmart.
Overall, this experience was different from my downtown experience in that the people that shop and work at Walmart along with the types of products being sold are very different. This shopping site provides a quick and convenient service for people who are trying to shop and then leave. It does not have the same mood or atmosphere that the leisurely, community feel of the downtown space offers. This big chain store is more focused on the profit that they are making, rather than the experience that they are providing for their employees and consumers.
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