Butterfly on a lavender flower

I’m having a fight with myself and I don’t know who is winning


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Peace lilyUp until a few months ago when Mitt Romney famously said that 47% of the nation basically didn’t matter to him — I consider myself part of that 47% — I used to shop at stores that were convenient. I didn’t think it was logical to drive 40 miles round trip and use $8.78 in gas — my 2002 Toyota Camry gets about 20 miles per gallon in city traffic; $3.59 per gallon — to save $1 on a doohickey or to make a political statement by not shopping at a store closer to home that was owned by someone in the 53%, especially the top 1%.

Recently, with no great fanfare, a Walmart Neighborhood Market opened just a mile down the road from me. A quick mile, too, since it’s a highway from here to there. If you are not familiar with Walmart Neighborhood Markets, they are essentially grocery stores but a little more specialized in that you will only find human foodstuffs there…. no dog and cat food, no laundry detergent, no pots and pans for the kitchen….

Friday Flower FiestaPreviously Walmart has tried to open Supercenters here in San Diego — stores that sell basically anything and everything. Picture a department store combined with a grocery store combined with a sports store combined with a clothing store………… They range in size from 98,000 square feet to 261,000 square feet.

Although the general public wants them, the general public doesn’t want them in their own neighborhoods because of traffic concerns. Thus most City Councils here in San Diego County have voted them down when it came time for environmental impact statements, building permits, and zoning permits.

Friday Flower FiestaWalmart has circumvented the City Councils by converting the largest of their Walmart stores to small Supercenters or taking over large retail space that previously was occupied by Circuit City, Linens & Things, Borders, etc., and converting them into Neighborhood Markets.

Yesterday I stopped at the new Walmart Neighborhood Market. I wasn’t going there specifically but was driving by when I saw it, did a U turn, and checked it out. Here’s what I found:

There is a Ralphs grocery store in the same parking lot. I shop a lot at Ralphs although not this one. There’s a Ralphs just two blocks from where I live. I’m familiar with Ralphs prices, though, so I could compare the Neighborhood Market’s prices with Ralphs.

Red rose, Friday Flower Fiesta, October 12, 2012Identical items sold at Ralphs are 37% to 66% less expensive at the new Walmart Neighborhood Market. What does that mean? Well, picture yourself out shopping for food for Christmas Day. Your total at checkout is $100 at Ralphs. If you had bought the exact same things at the new Walmart Neighborhood Market, your total at checkout would have been just $34 to $63. That’s a savings of $37 to $66!

Let’s use an average of $50. What could I do with a $50 savings each week when I go to buy groceries? That would be $2,600 for the entire year!

With $50 each week, I could buy 12 margaritas at On The Border’s happy hour. I could go to happy hour Monday through Saturday and have two margaritas each time! Rest, recover, and repent on Sunday.

Butterfly on a lavender flowerWith $50 each week, I could buy 13.89 gallons of gas. At 20 miles per gallon, that’s 278 miles of driving. I could drive all sorts of places to get pictures of new and exciting places to share with my readers here.

At the end of the year, if I didn’t spend that money, I could put $2,600 down on a new car and the continued weekly savings would pay the monthly car payment.

Opening flower budOf course, by shopping at the Walmart Neighborhood Market, I would be contributing to the continuing low wages and lack of health insurance that is attributable to Walmart by the press. I would be contributing to the extraordinarily rich — the 1% — who own and run Walmart.

Do I look out first for my own finances? Do I believe that those who work at Walmart must want to work at Walmart? Do I ignore the rest of the world and simply do what I want to do?

I’m having a fight with myself and I don’t know who is winning, but it is very difficult to ignore those kind of savings.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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70 thoughts on “I’m having a fight with myself and I don’t know who is winning

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Surprisingly the Neighborhood Market was not busy yesterday. I wonder why there hasn’t been a grand opening, and how long it’s been opened. I think you’re right that as soon as people discover it, Ralphs will be out of business. Ralphs, I might add, is unionized whereas Walmart is not.

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I’m trying to work my way out of the home inspection business but I don’t know what else to do, and the home inspection business pays very well. Savings could help me wind that business down and get into something else.

  1. Leilani

    I was in the same tussle until I realized that I ALWAYS got a headache after going to Wal-Mart. (We don’t have just the markets here in town–just the massive stores where you have to walk a mile for a toothbrush) In the end, I decided my peace and health were worth the extra dollars. And, actually, the local grocery stores have better deals on food. Go fig.

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Our local grocery stores here — Ralphs, Albertsons, and Vons — all are much more expensive than Walmart. I suspect it has something to do with those three stores being unionized while Walmart is not. Like you, I do despise going to Walmart, so when I do go, it’s usually at 3:00 in the morning when very few people are there. Aspirin is cheaper at Walmart, too; bye-bye headache………..lol

  2. Jennifer Flint ~ The Aura Reader

    I think people just have to do what their circumstances afford them. Some people really need those savings, so that they can continue to contribute to the world in other ways. We all have to pick our battles, and contribute where we can manage it.

    That said, I never buy produce at WalMart. It’s just gross. :P

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      There is a Walmart SuperCenter about five miles from. Their produce there is very good, and very inexpensive. For example, avocados are always ripe and ready to eat and are always just 79¢ each as opposed to Ralphs which, depending on the season, charges 99¢ each to $2.99 each.

  3. babso2you

    My issue with Wal-Mart has been how much of what they sell comes from China. However, savings on food is a tremendous benefit. To be honest, in our Wal-Mart here in the foothills, I have stayed away from the food aisles as they are always too crowded, maybe due to lower food prices. But what about fresh produce? Did you check that out? I am very fussy with produce. We have local growers here that I would rather support than a 1% that I will never meet face to face and get to know.

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Produce is mainly what I’m interested in when it comes to foodstuffs. It’s so hard to find good produce. As I said in another comment, there is a Walmart Supercenter about five miles from me. There produce is very good and very inexpensive. For example, avocados are always fresh and ready to eat. No need to take them home and brownbag them for a week to get them ripe. And they are always 79¢ each whereas Ralphs avocados need to be ripened and cost, depending on the season, anywhere from 99¢ each to $2.99 each.

          1. babso2you

            I have many memories of driving up 15 and being amazed at the avocado trees! Is that store still there that has the plastic cows all over the roof? It was a western store…

              1. babso2you

                It was an amazing western store! They had lassos, cowboy hats, all kinds of blue jeans…chaps, spurs…cool store! Look forward to hearing what you find! Might be a good post!

    2. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Walmart has made the determination that fresh produce at low prices is what is really needed in our communities, and I agree with them. The Neighborhood Market had excellent produce yesterday. I bought avocados, bananas, lettuce, and Roma tomatoes.

  4. Charron's Chatter

    ahh God. Unfair employee treatment isn’t the only reason to boycott Walmart. The reason it’s so much cheaper to shop at the multinational, largely UNREGULATED conglomerate is because in order for manufacturers to sell their products so cheaply (there), a good deal of their products—and/or components—are made overseas in sweat shops. Even so, the US manufacturers often lose money at POS.

    It’s a lose-lose proposition for ALL US companies–they can’t afford to sell their products at Walmart–and yet the giant is so ubiquitous–and ravenous–they can’t afford not to…If you have ever purchased a pair of Levis at Walmart, versus a pair made for a department store–you’ll find the rivets are cheaper, the stitching less fancy, the material is cheaper, too—basically crap Levis but with the Levi name.

    And Mom and Pop stores in the vicinity? Forget it!

    Read: Charles Fishman’s: The Walmart Effect–and then you will NEVER shop there. Unless you want foreign interests to control America (ultimately).

    Obviously a very thought provoking post for me.

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      After the recent election, those foreign interests are gaining a foothold. Here in San Diego, and other areas of California, foreign interests are buying up anything and everything — golf courses, hotels, homes. Americans can’t afford real estate here so foreigners are coming here with cash in hand and buying homes which they then turn around and rent to Americans. It’s distressing, but I don’t see it getting better. Only worse.

          1. Charron's Chatter

            are there any American made gadgets? Because I would buy….and I’m happy to say I have neither of those products…but I do have the ‘pod…

            It’s crazy, isn’t it? You can’t buy animal products because of the factory farming, you can’t buy corn products (etc) because of Monsanto…you can’t shop Walmart because we don’t want to be annexed. Why the bleep these conditions have been fostered is a dismally depressing statement on civilization (and/or society) as a whole.

  5. Jaz

    Calla Lilies are my absolute favs! i have come to the conclusion that I hate grocery shopping! I would much rather shop at our local Albertsons because it is closer, but at the end of the day I go to Wally World because the bill at check out is about 20-30% cheaper. :(

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I buy Zoey the Cool Cat’s food at Walmart because it is 46¢ a can. At Ralphs it is 69¢ a can, and at Pet Smart and Petco it is 75¢ to 89¢ a can. It’s the same Friskies Ocean Whitefish and Tuna!

  6. Darlene Jones

    I don’t like shopping at Wal-Mart for many of the reasons you list, but – and it’s a big “but” – the savings allow me to spend money elsewhere so I am still contributing to the economy.

  7. katehobbs

    I have always struggled with Wal-Mart (Asda in the UK). I don’t like the shopping experience at all. I would rather go to small vendors, preferably the actual grower (farmers markets) if I can.
    It is difficult though – no right/wrong answer – only your conscience to guide you.
    Great discussion starter.

  8. qiquan

    If the owners of the store is friendly and give good service, I don’t mind to pay a higher price, otherwise, I will go to the same emotionless superstore.


  9. Bam's Kitchen

    So sorry just realized for some strange reason you fell off my wordpress list. Now you are back on. Have you heard the latest news about Wal-mart? Many stores in Asia have had to do a mandatory shut down due to corruption?

  10. Alarna Rose Gray

    This is such a modern day dilemma. And no easy answers there. A little I think it comes down to mindset. A question of what things should be worth to us. I think of eggs, for example. It’s so hard to get properly free range, organic eggs. I used to cringe at the price, and settle for less quality. But then oneday I realised – I would spend those few extra dollars on junk in a heartbeat. Why shouldn’t good quality eggs be worth more? Having said that… the quantity saving you are talking about… Like you say, it’s hard to argue.

  11. petit4chocolatier

    I feel the same way you do. I feel as though purchasing items at the big bad store is slowly breaking down the small business. But yet as you point out the savings is such a huge factor. And then like you, I think of their low wages and lack of health insurance. Yet shopping there, helps their employees keep a job. It is a hard choice. Great post! Makes you think :)

  12. elyseslifeasiknowit

    To start with I do shop at Wal-Mart, simply because I can’t afford to shop at all the local stores for everything. There are some things that are just worth driving to Wal-Mart for to save myself some money, especially since I am a single gal on a budget. Here comes the BUT, if I could boycott shopping there I would. I worked at the local Wal-Mart super center for 9 months, and I can tell you It was the worst most challenging 9 months of my life. They treat their employees terribly, and after hours in 90+ degree heat one day pushing carts alone with another female coworker (I worked in apparel, so not my position to push them), I was ready to throw my badge at them and walk out. But yet I have no choice but to shop there. Maybe someday my wish will come true and I can afford to shop at other stores exclusively?

  13. Maxi

    That is not what Mitt Romney meant. We all say things that don’t come out right, Russ. Ask Joe Biden. Good luck with your shopping.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I firmly believe that people do mean what they say, especially when they think they are behind closed doors, or they think the microphones and cameras are off. Then it’s just a question of who says and believes the best and the worst. I also think that all politicians tell lies, so for me (and most people) it’s just a question of whose lies am I more in tune with? Whose lies do I believe? Whose lies are move believable? Whose lies are less destructive to society and me? Romney’s lies were some of the worst I’ve ever heard in my 44 years of following politics. I might add, too, that I’ve been a registered Republican all my life, so it’s not like I didn’t want to believe Romney and Ryan wanted the best for the nation. Taking us back to the 1990s, 1950s, and sometimes even earlier in terms of women’s rights, gay rights, etc., well I just couldn’t handle them and their party this year.

  14. acflory

    Much the same thing happened to me when I moved to Warrandyte close on 8 years ago, except I was used to shopping at the bigger, cheaper supermarkets. Then I realised that the food at the small, locally owned independent supermarket was not just a bit more expensive, it was quite a bit /fresher/. When I shopped locally I didn’t seem to throw stuff out because it had gone off in the fridge. If there is a quality difference between your Ralphs and Walmart then perhaps the difference in price is balanced out by less waste?

  15. ivonprefontaine

    I know this is a difficult conversation for some people, but I find it easy to avoid Wal Mart. I cannot remember the last time I was in a Wal Mart store. My wife shops there, but I simply refuse to. My challenge is that no large conglomerate is much better. I think they are marginally better, but not much. I am trying to figure out ways to shop more locally. The fabric of community and a healthy economy depends on a different way of thinking. Today, we will drive about 1/2 hour out of the city and buy our Christmas turkeys. They are a little more expensive, but we know the people who grow them. It helps their business and the quality is better than any box store can provide. We can each only do the the little things we can do.

  16. sherijkennedyriverside

    I have direct experience with a friend who was very…in my opinion…abused by the big W. They hired her knowing she was a single mom who needed to get her children to school, etc. promised her certain hours and room to do what she needed with her children. They hired her into the department she wanted promising she wouldn’t be transferred to a dept. with the wrong and too few hours. After she began working they changed her hours so she couldn’t be home to get her kids ready and to school in the morning, changed her department to one that had demands on her 4′ 9″ form that were extremely taxing and even dangerous. They threatened to fire her if she took time out to take her children to the doctor etc. There was no humanity in her job. They also controlled her hours so that she couldn’t qualify for the benefit packages she was lured into the job with promises for them to be available for her. I am generally a person who understands the need of businesses to watch their bottom line and make tough choices, including sometimes tough demands on their employees, but here I saw no kindness and lots of over-use and undelivered promises.
    I can understand being drawn in by prices and savings, and I have bought one high price item from Walmart online with gift money I was given one Christmas. I couldn’t have quite afforded what the giver wanted me to get without the W’s amazing price cut. I still feel a little dirty for it.
    Slavery was a big savings for Southern plantation owners too. Their lifestyle was significantly enhanced by their choice to live off the backs of others’ abuse. I’m not at all saying that it’s the same thing, but the principle is similar to me. It can be tempting to close the eyes and pad the pockets.

  17. Barbara Backer-Gray

    My sentiments exactly. I hate Walmart but I love their stuff and their prices. I have boycotted Walmart in better times, but right now I can’t afford to.


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