Apr 12 2010

Walmart

Published by at 6:58 am under Reflection Blog,Uncategorized

On Thursday, April 8th our class did our fieldwork at the Wal-Mart in Fredericksburg at about 10am in the morning. The weather was very pleasant –it was partly sunny and in the 60s. The store was huge and box like, I had never been in a Wal-Mart or any store this big before. The workers who were dressed in similar clothing (blue top with khaki pants) greeted every shopper as they entered the store. I had seen this before in places like Sports Authority. I was amazed to find that the Wal-Mart had a full-size grocery store, a MacDonald’s, Woodforest Bank with ATM, a hair salon, nail care shop, and pharmacy in addition to the sections usually found in a department store. The store also had a toy section; sport sections with a full baseball section (this section interested me the most); a jewelry section; clothes sections for all age kids (infant through teen), women, and men; household items like sheet, towels, kitchen items, and furniture; electronics section; and even a gun section that sold ammunition. I found this amazing, a store where you could pick up a loaf of bread and a box of bullets at the same time. I also noted that the store was so big but did not have any places to sit down other than at the MacDonald’s; I guess you are suppose to “shop until you drop”.
During our visit, the store had numerous shoppers of all ages but was not crowded. I noticed quite a few mothers with small children looking at action/toy figures for both girls and boys, board games and outside toys like balls and water guns in the toy section. It was hard to tell their exact ages, as some may have been in elementary school and in the store because it was spring break. There appeared to be a lot of negotiating between the mothers and their kids about whether they were “buying” or “looking at” products. I also saw a Mennonite family wandering around the store looking a various items but not picking up anything as if they were going to buy it.
I examined the baseball section in detail and was surprised to see a selection of baseball accessories that was comparable to one found in a sporting goods store. For example, in addition to selling pink softballs and pink bats catering to girls, there were also baseball gloves endorsed by Derek Jeter, batting gloves, baseballs, baseball weights and even reaction baseballs. Wal-Mart stocked this section and probably all its sections within the store so the customer does not need to shop anywhere else. During the time I was in this section there were no other customers.
The full grocery store was another area that amazed me. It had everything from milk to meat. The prices for some of the items appeared to also be cheaper to me as compared to home but that may have been due to the fact that I live closer to the Washington, DC area where prices tend to be higher. The shoppers in this area were of all ages and some appeared to have carts just full of groceries (milk, cookies, eggs, cereal etc) while others had other items from other parts of the store, ie household items like towels and sheets, in addition to their groceries.
There were workers at the checkouts and throughout the store stocking items and helping customers. They were easily recognizable due to their uniform of a blue top and khaki pants. The uniforms reminded of the book we read in class (Nickel and Dimed) and wondered if these workers were having the same problems of trying to eat and pay their bills as those experienced by the author.
Shoppers were also in the MacDonald’s taking a break before finishing their shopping; some were older adults, while others were mothers with small children that appeared to be comforting their children with breakfast junk food.
The Wal-Mart reminded me of a mall where you could buy anything, the only difference is that in Wal-Mart you can place everything in your cart and pay for it all at once-“true one-stop shopping”. As a roamed the store I realized that because sections were spread out you could stop and browse at each section quite easily. Unlike a mall where you would have to go into a particular store to browse, Wal-Mart aisles are set up so different items easily attract your attention. I would assume that customers go in for one or two items and come out with several others that they initially did not intend to buy.
One thing I thought about after going to the Wal-Mart for the first time is that how could something this big ever fit into a city or large town. It is just too big for areas near a city because it would cost a fortune for Wal-Mart to lease the land. One thing I think that is missing from Wal-Mart is that unlike a mall there is nothing really to do but buy products, there is no other forms of entertainment-there are no food courts with a variety of foods or movies theaters. During our visit I did not see a lot of young adults except for us and that may have been due to the time of day or due to the fact that there really nothing appealing to Wal-Mart for our age group. However, I would assume that next fall with the start of college it would be busy with college students buying things for their dorms and apartments.

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