Thursday, February 17, 2011

Walmart - Why Have you Forsaken Me?

I used to love Wal-Mart.  Used to.
In the past few years, though, It has changed from the place where I would go to buy ok things on the cheap, to the place that thinks they are a lot better than what I want them to be.
The thing is, I shop at WM for the prices.  End of story.
If I want cute and trendy, and I am willing to pay a little more, I hit Target.
That's how it goes.
WM, though, seems to think it should be capturing that cute and trendy segment who are willing to pay more, too.  They shouldn't.  They should stick to what they are good at; shelves and shelves of cheap crap I can't live without.  I want to go and by toilet paper for next to nothing.  I might need a cheap ironing board at 2am.  That is when I know Wal-Mart should be there for me.  Even when it comes to grocery basics, I love the Great Value brand, or at least I used to.  Now, I love it when I can get it.
My local WM carries about 1/3 less products than they used to, a lot of it being Great value.  What they do still carry if often out of stock. In fact, nearly everything I want is out of stock about any time I go.  Its getting to the point that I just go to a higher priced place and save myself the gas, which isn't cheap these days either, instead of trying to pick the right WalMart that might have it in stock that day.
The stock issue is so bad, I am actually going to complain about it to Wal-Mart.  Two things in particular have just taken me over the edge.  The first is black beans.  I love black beans.  We eat them a lot, and I keep them on hand especially now that The Big One is a vegetarian.  I love to buy the canned Great Value brand.  They are cheap and the quality is good.  The problem is that they are almost always out or on very short supply.  I don't mean once or twice they have been out, but on a regular basis I can't get them.  To me, that would seem to mean order more and keep more on hand.  That must not be the WM way, though.  they just keep letting it run out over and over again.
Their craft stuff used to be great as well.  Now, though, they barely have much of a craft department left.  The majority of it is Scrap booking and Cake decorating, both of which I at least like so that I can get some things there.  That is, of course, if they have it in stock.  I went the other day for plain black 12*12 paper.  If you paper craft at all, you know what a very basic staple that is. That is like a baker needing sugar.  It may not go into every recipe, you could be making something savory after all, but you really need to keep it on hand at all times.  WM must not get that analogy, either.  Of the 10 different colors they seem to carry for basic 12*12 paper, they only had 3 in stock.  None of those 3 were black.  I think it was some cute pink patterned paper, and a couple of other things that no one will rush to the store in the middle of the night for.  To make it even worse, after looking for an associate to ask about the possibly of extra stock in the back for about 10 minutes, I notice a little paper shoved int he price tag of each empty paper hangar.  I pulled it out to look at it. It was their own little note about when the stock.  They knew it was out.  It said something like "Scanned 2/4.  Back 2/21."  My take on that is that they didn't note it was out and order it until the beginning of the month.  Then, they were going to have to wait 3 weeks to get it back.
That is no way to run a business.
This is the reason that so many other places get so much more of my money now.  I think Costco should send them a thank you card for all of the screw ups that have me buying my paper towels and tp in the warehouse these days.
I know Wal-Mart has been having some business problems, and if they want to know why, they should read the preceding.  Don't tell your consumers what you should be, let your consumers tell you what they want you to be.  It makes for a much more profitable company that way.If only they would focus more on keeping the old school isles and isles of cheap crap in stock, I think we would all be happier in the end.