mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

madanthony tries to give Walmart some money, fails...

I have a love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart that's different than most people's. I love them as a business - in a few decades, they've gone from a tiny 5 and dime to the world's largest retailer. They help keep prices low, letting people buy lots of stuff they wouldn't otherwise be able to. Their inventory, point of sale, and distribution systems are legendary to the point that business professors have referred to them as an IT company that happens to also sell toilet paper and underwear.

But I've never liked shopping there, and almost every time I go there I find myself disappointed. When I need general merchandise, I usually go to Target, where I generally have a pleasant shopping experience, and occasionally get some very good deals on stuff that's on clearance.

But I was running low on soda today, and the sale prices at most of the stores I normally shop at, like Target or local supermarkets, were not very good. I drink a lot of diet soda- probably around 6 cans a day - and I was down to my last 12-pack. I noticed a Wal-Mart ad that had a giant 24-can cube of Diet Mountain Dew rolled back to $5.96, so I decided to stop at the Wal-Mart that I pass every day on my way to and from work.

I walked in and was pleasantly surprised - it was clean, brightly lit. I headed to the soda section.. and was disappointed. Not by the prices - 12 packs of brand-name soda were regularly priced at $2.75, cheaper than what most grocery stores have it at this week on sale. The problem was that there was almost no actual soda on the shelves. They were practically bare. It looked like those shots of the bread isle before a snow storm. As far as what I usually buy - caffeinated diet soda - there were a couple cases of Diet Dr. Pepper and one lonely, misshelved 12-pack of Diet Cherry Coke Zero. No diet mountain dew or diet vault anywhere to be seen, nor any 24-packs of pepsi anything. They also had Propel - which I drink when I go to the gym - and it was $2.50 for a 6-pack, cheaper than Target, which is usually $2.99, and most of the grocery stores near me charge $3.99. The problem was that they only had a single 6-pack on the shelf.

I also headed to the electronics section to see if anything good was on clearance. Nope. They actually had a high-end digital camera that had a $499 sticker on it, and a "sale" sticker.. for $525. I wish I had my phone with me, I could have taken a pic and submitted it to the Consumerist. They also had a 14" no-name flat panel monitor for $148. Yes, 14".

If I could figure out when Wal-Mart gets there soda deliveries, I could probably save a bunch of money buying my soda there, but as with most of my Wal-Mart experiences, I find myself scratching my head and pondering how they are so big and successful when they can't keep Diet Mountain Dew in stock. And yes, I know that soda is usually stocked by the vendor and not through the retailer's normal distribution channels, but a company the size of Wal-Mart should be able to muscle Coke and Pepsi into actually having their stuff in stock.


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