TRAVEL THERE: WILL MY CONSCIOUS LET ME GO TO CRYSTAL BRIDGES
It’s all my husband’s fault. He’s the one who recorded the TV show about Alice Walton’s new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. In his defense, I seriously doubt he recorded it with the intention of tempting me to abandon my principles, but that’s how things happen. One minute you’re just watching a little mindless TV, the next you’re wondering if you’d be more successful at serial murders than the guy they just caught on Criminal Minds.
The Temptations of TV
And the fact that he watched the show one afternoon while I was getting ready to leave the house? Well, he often chills out from trading after the market closes by watching a little something on TV. The show about the Walmart heir’s museum was just a fluke.
Some radar I have no explanation for alerted me Bill was watching something about Walmart. I heard the interviewer ask Ms. Walton about the people who bore a grudge against her father’s store. I peeked around the corner to catch the answer. The nice gray-headed lady in the bright blue sweater was polite, gracious and wise. Walmart one – Me zero.
See Walmart doesn’t know it, but we’re in a war. I’m one of those anti-Walmart people the interviewer asked about. Originally it was all about narrow aisles, dim lighting and poor quality merchandise, but if you’ve been to Walmart lately, you know they’ve resolved those issues.
Then I held them responsible for the death of Mom and Pop stores in small town America. I relished articles I’d read accusing Walmart of breaking promises they’d made to city councils, enjoyed the sex discrimination suit brought against them by women employees, loved it when I saw a documentary about their sweat shops in China and applauded when I read this article about lawn mowers.
The Challenges of Avoiding Walmart
I self-righteously didn’t shop at Walmart for years and then we moved to Pismo Beach. In Pismo Beach, you either shop at Walmart or you stay home. For six years, I shopped at Walmart through gritted teeth – each visit fueling my angst.
Moving back to Texas meant I had my choice of shopping venues, including my beloved Target, but my mom was a fly in the ointment. She loves Walmart. I didn’t want my eighty-something mom getting run over in their parking lot, so I started taking her. She still loves Walmart, but her canny price savvy gave me new ammunition in my war.
She recognized which items were the truly low-priced loss leaders and which were higher priced rip-offs. Sure there’s that Low Price Guarantee, but who’s really going to ask for it. Then there was the way they’d offer brand name favorites, right up until they negotiated a deal for the product to be sold under their own label. Maybe that Great Value stuff is the same thing as the stuff they quit selling, but who really knows.
Then I found out my husband was making regular visits to Walmart for fruits, frozen food and toiletries. I weaned him away from the fruit by comparing one of my Market Street apples to the Walmart variety and showed him how Walmart was charging more for some of the frozen food, but it was Target that saved him from the toiletries aisle. The Target Red Card debit card gives you five percent back on every purchase. Take that Low Price Guarantee!
And so the war waged, on and on. Walmart won some rounds and I won others. My mom and my husband might shop there on occasion, but they can’t get me to do it. I know Walmart doesn’t lose any sleep over me or the rest of the anti-Walmart crowd, but I felt like it was a battle I wanted to continue.
Then there was Crystal Bridges. I’ll confess, I’m dying to go. I’ll even confess that I’ve already picked out a weekend in February that would be perfect for the visit. But I’m having a battle with my conscious.
Can I really go to a museum made possible by the marketing strategies of the man I think is responsible for the global economy’s threat to American prosperity, the death of small business, the disappearance of service and the replacement of value with mere price comparison. I don’t know….what do you think?