Up 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….
Previously 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.
Walmart 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.
Identical 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.
With $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.
Of 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.
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