Discovering Your Inner Walmartian

I would like to state at the outset that I tend to shop far more often at Target than at Wal-Mart, and I will freely admit that at least part of that reason has to do with snobbery [1].  The price premium that one pays to go to Target to be around people that at least aspire to middle class status and dress properly and behave well as opposed to going to Wal-Mart and getting cheaper goods around a less respectable clientele is the cost of snobbery, and sometimes that cost is well worth paying, if one can afford it and recognizes what it says about us for paying that cost in order to be around people we feel more comfortable with than we otherwise would.  I say this at the outset because I actually have something somewhat amusing to say about Wal-Mart and I feel it necessary to preface the comment by saying that Wal-Mart is not the sort of company I generally wish to endorse, although one could apply the expression Walmartian to the way someone behaves when they shop at any similar store, rather than create new expressions that mean the same thing but are not nearly so pleasing to the ear.

Anyway, this past Saturday night I had a humorous conversation with one of my friends about our inner martians, later following up on the same conversation the following morning.  After all, people who make midnight runs to Wal-Mart, or after work trips to any similar store, are looking for something in particular and shop there for a reason.  Over the course of my own life my inner Walmartian has come out in many ways.  As a teenager, for example, I would regularly go to the music section and buy any single or album I could afford that struck my eye, which helped me amass a large and quirky and diverse musical library, the sort of thing that someone would expect of me.  More recently, in such stores I have shopped for large quantities of bookshelves, while still living in Florida, for my Florida library, and even more recently in Target I have shopped for gout medicine as well as the Oregon Trail card game [2].  My inner Walmartian tells the sort of person I am–someone who likes quirky games, has foot problems, and likes to collect enough books and music that one has to consider them as not merely a collection but a library.  Not everyone is so distinctive in their collections, but everyone has their own patterns.

When I asked about the inner Walmartian of my young friend and the people he went shopping with on Saturday night after our choir practice and family style dinner was over, I found that their types were much more similar.  The gentleman and one of his friends purchased snacks and drinks, which is quite appealing to do at a cheap price at such a store for a reasonably large quantity, while the friend whose inner Walmartian was just discovered ended up buying the same products, albeit at a somewhat lower price scale by purchasing the generic knockoffs instead of the name brands.  In stark contrast to a more snobby fellow like myself who goes to more expensive stores to buy name brands simply not to be around people I am uncomfortable with, this person went to Wal-mart and bought the generic brands, similar to the way it was for me as a kid.  As an aside, I would say that a great deal of the decisions I make with my time and money are in direct contrast to the way I grew up.  Quite frankly, there is a lot that I do simply because I have the choice now, instead of being constrained to act in ways that I found embarrassing.  Perhaps he lacks the same sense of discomfort and shame of having imitation brands as opposed to the real deal.  It is, at any rate, something worth discussing and, at least for myself, musing about my own choices and reasoning.

What we buy tells us, and others, what sort of people we are.  Are we people who care about the context of a product or service–the label that is on it or the place where we get it from?  I know I do, and I know I am not alone in it either.  When my great-grandfather purchased a car very late in life, in his late 80’s, he paid for the car in cash and insisted on paying full price because he could.  To be sure, he could have saved many thousands of dollars because he was paying for it all in cash, but he insisted on paying full price because he had lived during the Great Depression and been extremely destitute, and had obviously felt ashamed about his poverty.  Not everyone views money the same way–some people enjoy couponing because of the way it makes them feel smarter than the stores for being able to buy a lot for a little, and some people like my great-grandfather spend money as a way of demonstrating that they have the means to overlook thousands of dollars of potential savings.  Our pride as human beings can take any number of turns depending on how it is we choose to gratify it.  However we do it, we will expose to our own reflection, and to the amusement or puzzlement of the world at large the contours of our inner Walmartian.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to Discovering Your Inner Walmartian

  1. Pingback: You Have Not Yet Resisted To Blood | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Beating Gout | Edge Induced Cohesion

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