There is no deal lucrative enough to ever motivate me to shop on Black Friday. My serenity is worth a hell of a lot more than a $250 rebate on a flat screen TV at Best Buy. Just sayin’.
All you nutty people who get up long before the ass crack of dawn to wait in line for the latest kids’ toys and other trendy gifts can have at it. The crowds, chaos and confusion are more than I can tolerate.
That being said, I don’t mind shopping on a normal day. Depending on the circumstances, I have been known to actually enjoy it. I am a girl, after all.
In fact, on Small Business Saturday this past weekend, a fabulous new girlfriend and I spent hours browsing shops along Bardstown Road and Nulu. Each store was bustling, but none were so crowded as to incite a panic attack. (Being very petite, I get claustrophobic in large crowds, sometimes to the point of breaking out in a rash.)
By Sunday, I figured the shopping masses at larger stores would have dissipated to a reasonable level, so I decided to do a little Christmas shopping for my teenage son, Ethan.
I was still not willing to go anywhere near a mall, but I was prepared to take it one step above the quaint, independent shops I’d visited the day before.
Thankfully, most of what Ethan wants is easily purchased with a click of a button on Amazon.com. (That part of my shopping is all done, by the way. BOOM.)
But the final item on his list required a trip to the soul-sucking bowels of the big-box retailer I loathe most in this world — Walmart. I tried to find a way around it, but for this particular item, Walmart was the only choice. Make no mistake, much profanity was uttered upon this sad realization.
See, I believe there are two types of people in this world: Walmart shoppers and Target patrons. As you might suspect, I am Target all the way. To me, it is an oasis where I can buy everything from groceries to household items, clothes, books and furnace filters in a clean, pleasant — even happy, if you will — environment.
I look forward to my trips to Target. Sometimes, I even make up reasons to go there. It’s a sickness. Shut. It.
Me, on a Tuesday: “Gee, what do I need today? Bread, coffee? No, just went to Kroger. A sweatshirt? No, got two last week. A scented candle? Why, yes, I’m getting a little bored with the 26 I already have… Guess I’ll have to go to Target! Woo-hoo! Ahem, I mean, darn.”
In many ways, the difference between Target and Walmart shoppers is a basic lesson in socioeconomics. Walmart is cheap. You can get a lot for your money there. People on fixed incomes — the elderly, immigrants and the working poor — depend on Walmart for many of their staples.
But prices are low because the quality of much of the merchandise is low as well, not to mention the overall trailer park-esque shopping experience. The nicer stores (I use that term loosely) are mere armpits, while the crappier stores are more like assholes.
I can tell you from experience that when you buy a $2 towel at Walmart, you get what you pay for. It rubs your skin raw and disintegrates after a few uses. And, for Pete’s sake, there are entire websites dedicated to the dysfunctional and depraved folk who frequent the store.
Add to all that, the lines are long, the staff is rude and there are often smells wafting around me that I can’t (and do not want to) identify.
When I enter the automatic doors of hell, er, Walmart, I imagine that my disposition is not unlike Andy Dufresne in “The Shawshank Redemption” right before he dove into the sewer pipe that enabled his escape. Both are a means to an end, but the journey is horribly distasteful. And the putrid funk tends to stick to you long after you climb out.
Target, on the other hand, caters to my demographic — middle class white women. For fuck’s sake, there’s a Starbucks right inside the front door … need I say any more??
The prices are a bit higher, but still well within my budget, and the goods are a few notches up on the quality scale. (Example: My $2 Walmart towel fell apart soon after one final chap to my ass, but I still enjoy using my soft $4 Target towel a year later.)
There is no shame in discount shopping, and I recognize how lucky I am to have the luxury of choosing Target over Walmart. A little more than 15 years ago, I wasn’t afforded that choice.
Back then, I was a single mom on welfare, trying to finish college and care for a toddler on my own. I bought a lot of diapers and generic-brand products at Walmart back in the day.
But I will tell you this: the shopping experience felt dirty to me even then. Maybe it helped motivate me to better myself, so I wouldn’t have to shop there anymore. I don’t know.
What I find really interesting is that Walmart’s sister store, Sam’s Club, doesn’t bother me. I don’t love it, but the shopping experience doesn’t feel nearly as icky to me. People wear clothes that cover their butt cracks, for one thing. Maybe that store has a stricter shopper’s dress code or something, I dunno.
Anyhoo, the only thing about the holidays that I don’t like is shopping amongst the throngs, so I get it done early. My recent trip to Walmart for my son’s last gift was (I hope) my final outing to that store or any other until the middle of January.
I think Ethan will really like his present, and I can’t wait to see him open it. I can promise you, though, that if he doesn’t, he will be returning it to the sewer, er, store, by himself.
And me? I’ll be across the street at Target. Surely by January I’ll need a new damn candle.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.