The Walmart Effect


My sincere hope was that Home Depot would carry a scientific calculator.  I’m not sure what made me think this.  As I approached the tool aisle I could already see from a distance that I would be disappointed.  There were only two different calculators hanging on hooks and neither one of them was smarter than a fifth grader.  Oh well; I tried.  I resigned myself at that moment to a trip to the Walmart across the highway knowing full well what would happen: the Walmart effect.

I went in with the intention of buying a Casio solar scientific calculator, the one I’ve used since my college days (since which the price has gone from $15.00 twenty years ago to $7.00 now; with inflation, that’s less than $4.00,  giving a clue as to how much they were screwing us twenty years ago.)  Alas, I came out with a calculator, a set of 500-thread bed sheets, a matching throw, Alice in Wonderland on DVD (what else would it be on?), and only narrowly avoided a ready-to-bake pizza, Starbuck’s dark chocolate mocha frappucino, and coconut M&Ms.  I went in intending to spend seven dollars and I spent a hundred and thirty-eight.

There comes a point at which convenience is criminal.  Even a convenience store jacks up their prices to prevent you from going hog wild.  But Walmart?  So much variety, so much color, so much of everything you need, want, or fancy; this plus millions of dollars of psychological research conducted over decades on unsuspecting shoppers in order to figure out what makes their wallets tick; all at rock bottom prices; it has its effect on me, to say the least.

I’m gonna love my new sheets, though.