April 29, 2004

Chicken or Egg?

A new Walmart SuperCenter opened in Epping NH recently, near the lake house. Today I visited it for the first time.

Ever since it's opened, when I've asked friends what they thought of the place, they all said, "It's huge!"

They were right. It's huge.

I think I'm not exaggerating when I say, that the inside of this Walmart in Epping NH, is larger than downtown Epping NH.

Whenever I visit a Walmart I get the same feeling. There's something simultaneously comforting and sinister about these places.

Walmart is a microcosm of America. It has all the products that we need in our everyday lives. Groceries, clothes, sporting goods, car stuff, toys, CDs, eyeglasses, photo studios, fast food, more, you name it and it's there.

The price is right too, and that's very American.

But it's become controversial that Walmart has accumulated so much clout in merchandise buying. Kinda like the Texas school book thing. Walmart effectively dictates many of the products that get manufactured for retail sale, and they drive what the pricing will be.

Many think that Walmart is cheapening the American retail experience. But I wonder, does Walmart define us, or do we define Walmart.

The Walmart folks are no fools. It seems to me that the only agenda they have is to sell us as much stuff as they can. They know their audience, and the things they demand for their stores are the things they're pretty sure we will buy. And that's the sinister part I guess.

If I'm disappointed in the quality of the stuff I see in a Walmart, then I have no choice but to be disappointed in the values and tastes of the average American.

Well that's kind of depressing.

It seems there must be a more positive moral to this. I need to think about it some more. In the meantime, tell me what you think.

Posted by jackhodgson at April 29, 2004 09:28 PM