A New Appreciation.

I know a lot of folks that avoid shopping at Walmart. We’re usually amongst their number. It was easy to avoid Walmart when we lived in Chicago; there’s not that many of the stores on the North Side. We were surrounded by these “Urban Target” stores on street corners, but other than a Walmart Neighborhood Market, it was quite the trek to get to one of the large stores.

Here in Tucson it’s a different story.

With our flat tire adventure on Saturday we found the Walmart in Casa Grande to be of considerable assistance with our tire repair dilemma. They squeezed us in between appointments and while the turnaround time was not quick, it was affordable, efficient, and a very friendly experience.

Technology-wise I’ve always been intrigued by Walmart. They were the first major department store chain to adopt UPC scanning in the 1980s. Before that they had stores hooked up to offices via satellite and employed electronic cash register systems long before the other discount department store chains did so. I know their systems have run on Linux for years (always a bonus, as far as I’m concerned) and after spending three hours in the Casa Grande Walmart yesterday, I appreciate the fact they use their technology equipment for as long as they can. Other stores toss out old systems and put in all new equipment on a too frequent basis; Walmart’s front end registers are a blend of technology from the late 1990s intermingled with pieces of equipment from today. It’s probably done for cost effective purposes, but I appreciate keeping technology out of the landfill as long as possible.

While my husband and I made our way around the very large Walmart, waiting for the tire to be repaired, I couldn’t help but notice how well the store was stocked, how clean the store was (too many stores we’ve been to are a mess), and most importantly, how friendly every team member we worked with or overheard engaging with each other or another customer, seemed to be. There was service with a smile everywhere.

I appreciate anyone that works. In my book there’s no job beneath me. If I were to lose my position as a software engineer and have difficulty finding another, I would not hesitate to fill the void with working the electronics department at Walmart or cleaning hotel rooms for that matter. A strong work ethic, coupled with a friendly demeanor is something to be admired.

And this is what I saw at Walmart yesterday.

Is the chain taking away from Mom and Pop stores in village centers? Probably. Should they pay more? Yes. But the folks I saw at Walmart had a smile on their face and I am appreciative of that fact.

Plus, getting a flat tire fixed for $15 is amazing to me.