Who wants to go on a Walmart Run?


‘No, my hometown didn’t have a Costco’

When I was growing up Midcentury-Modern Style in the Midwest, my very small home town had a main street with a few stores (and several taverns) on it.

If you wanted to, say, buy a Christmas present for your mom (Evening in Paris was a popular choice), you’d take your allowance or your paper route money and go to the Dime Store. (Ours was a Ben Franklin, but we always called it the “Dime Store”.) Which was owned by a really crabby guy who totally didn’t like kids and would follow you around like you were going to shoplift. There really wasn’t any other option.

Then, sometime after I’d gone off to college, a Walmart came to town. It was out on the west end by the Dairy King (totally different from the Dairy Queen). A (gasp) Walmart.

My Personal Family. In the front yard of the house I grew up in — in my Walmart-welcoming home town

Did my town protest? Did they try to keep that Walmart out? No way. They welcomed it, big-time. I remember reading a Big Story about its Grand Opening in the local paper (which I subscribed to because I worked there during the summers.) And it was only a matter of time — and not much time, either — before everyone was shopping at this new Walmart.

They weren’t crabby at Walmart, for one thing. They had (and still do have) these Greeters, who go “Welcome to Walmart” when you come in the door, and say “Thank you for shopping, please come again” when you leave. Take that, crabby Dime Store Guy.

Why is this goldfish smiling? Maybe because you can buy him — and dozens and dozens of his friends — at Walmart

And Walmart had everything. You could buy not only giant cartons of milk and huuuuuge bags of Cheetos, you could get rose mulch and stereos and DVDs and khaki pants and baby shoes and glitter. My Nephew once bought a BB gun there. (Walmart cheerfully took it back, even though it had been fired, when he returned it for some reason I do not recall, probably involving his absent mother.)

Nephew Phil (or is that Groucho?) without his Walmart BB gun. But I bet that’s where he got that disguise

Walmart became so popular (at least in my family) that I remember coming home for some sort of school break, sitting at the kitchen table sipping coffee, when Mom goes, “Who wants to go on a Walmart Run?” Turns out a “Walmart Run” was a Thing.

Yup. My Mom got her coffee at Walmart. And after consuming some, she’d go right back to Walmart

My Late Lamented Dad even called The Child “Walmart” — before and after she was born. See, while preggers with her, I was of course asked many times what names The Dude and I were considering for our imminent bundle of joy. Sometimes, if feeling feisty, I’d do a riff on the trend for non-traditional names. Which is perfectly okay by me, O You Who Have Named Your Child “Brie”. I just happen to think it amusing to name a child after a type of cheese. If “Brie” is cool, why not “Cheddar”? Or, how ’bout this one: “Time for supper, Camembert!”

My father amusing some random child whose name I can’t recall (tho I bet it wasn’t “Roquefort”) with a sparkler, no doubt purchased at Walmart

Anyway, I’d been amusing my father with this funny-name bit; had run through the Cheese Names and the State Names (If “Montana” and “Dakota” are cool, why not “Delaware”?) and even the Neighborhoods in New York City names (If “Chelsea” is hip, why not “Soho”? Or “Tribeca”?) Well, I was just getting into the Store Names (I like “Tiffany” for a girl, and I think “Duane Reade” is rather distinguished for a boy, don’t you?) — when Dad pipes up. “Walmart”! It’s a great name for a boy or a girl.

So he called her “Walmart”. For years.

Speaking of children, we recently enjoyed our annual visit from The Dude’s nephew, his amazing wife and their three-count-em-three frisky and adorable girls. The Dude and I, being grandchildless, are drawn like moths to their collective flame. But then so are The Child and her BF.

The Child and BF roughhousing (er, playing) with the Adorable Girls

This is the nephew and wife who started a chocolate company (yes, they started it!) that you may have heard of. It’s called Taza, and makes incredibly delish stone-ground chocolate. They make dozens of products (I have to hide the chocolate-covered hazelnuts from The Dude’s Brother Bill) but on this visit they were most excited by a new one they developed for Costco.

It’s called the Paleo Dark Chocolate Slab. And you can only get it at Costco

Now, you can indeed find Taza products at your friendly neighborhood Walmart. But Costco, unlike Walmart, is a membership-only buying club. And it, well, has a certain je ne sais quois. New York City Upper East-Siders who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart will happily drive their Range Rovers up to Northern Manhattan (yes, I said “Manhattan”) to stock up on organic stock from free-range chickens (as well as their eggs) and almond milk (no doubt from free-range almonds) and the like.

How the Paleo display will look in a Costco. If you are lucky enough to be able to go to Costco

This new Taza product, being Paleo and all, is a perfect foodie fit for Costco-goers. (I tried some, and even though I am not a Paleo Person, it certainly hit my personal Sweet Spot.) We were pretty excited for them — and for the lucky Costco-goers who get to buy it. I’m betting it’ll be such a big hit that sometime soon I’ll be hearing my fellow Upper East-Siders saying, “Hey, who wants to go on a Costco Run?”

No need for a Costco Run here. These lucky girls have parents who own the whole darned chocolate company

New York City. June 2019

34 thoughts on “Who wants to go on a Walmart Run?

  1. I’ve never been to a Costco before, only to Walmart, and the one impression left on me about Walmart is that they are *huge*. It really is a bit of everything.

    And Free Range almonds is a thing, today. 😉

    • I’ve never really been to a Costco either. Once, only to check out how they were displaying the Pantene shampoos and conditioners (I was working on the Pantene account at the time, and it was a business visit with the client.) I remember that the hugeness was an even bigger hugeness than the Walmart kind. (They actually had a speedboat for sale, suspended from the ceiling! I’d like to see somebody put THAT in their cart!) And hey, now I want to Google “free-range almonds”! Thanks for stopping by xoxo

  2. paigebainbridge

    Really fun to read all your memories of Wal-Mart! And see your personal family photos (love seeing people’s family photos). Also, the Taza chocolate sounds amazing and will definitely check it out when I am at Costco! Thanks! — Paige Bainbridge, http://www.paigebainbridge.com

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Paige! So glad you got a kick out of my Walmart Memories (though they are much more recent than most of my memories!) Yes, please do check out Taza Chocolate — even if my niece and nephew didn’t own the company I’d have to admit that it’s pretty darned delish!

    • Hahahaha! I just adore the $100 store thing. There is a farm stand near me that I call the $40 farm stand. I started going there on my bike with a $20 tucked into my shoe. I’d go in, pick out a chunk of cheese and a baguette — “That’ll be $20!” Then I started having to tuck TWO twenties, one in each sneaker. Farm Stand Inflation!

  3. josypheen

    Oooh I’ve been to Walmart! Although it was only pretty recently when I went on a hiking holiday, and somehow forgot my hiking boots (doh!) I didn’t buy boots there, but we did pick up some easter eggs and fruit. It seemed pretty good to me.

    I’ve never been to Costco. I have loads of friends (and colleagues) that rave about it, but we never got around to visiting…

    p.s. if the child has a child, maybe your dad will nickname that one Costco (or if it’s a really upmarket baby, he can nickname it Wholefoods…)

    • Dear Josy — I just love the name Wholefoods for a “really upmarket baby”. Of course, the baby would have to be organic. But then, they are, aren’t they? Did they not have hiking boots in “your” Walmart? I am surprised — they seem to have basically everything. (I love that you got “Easter eggs and fruit”. That is very Walmart.) I’ve only been to Costco once, and that was on a work trip. We were checking out how they stocked their Pantene products (Pantene was an advertising brand I was working on at the time.) They stocked their Pantene in huuuuuge pallets, just like they stock everything else — including my nephew’s chocolate!

    • You are a shopping genius, Marian! I just Googled “Asda”, and found that it is indeed a “subsidiary of Walmart”. Well, well. What do you know? Do they also carry fine cheese-flavored snacks in huuuuuge bags?

  4. Terrific post. So many towns had their small businesses close after Walmart came to town, but the problem is that the town itself supported Walmart, and NOT the crabby guy at the dime store. It’s the retail “circle of life!”

    • Exactly. I like to think that the town would have rallied ’round the small businesses, except that those business owners — the crabby Dime Store Guy and the overpriced Dress Shop Lady, to name just two — had grown complacent and took their customers for granted. It made me sad when the Western Auto closed, though. Nothing smells as nice inside as a Western Auto store.

  5. Your Oldest Younger Brother

    I recall that the Walmart manager in our town was considered business royalty, and was regularly quoted in the weekly newspaper when asked her opinion on issues of the day, whether related to retail or not.

    • Oh my, even though I worked at that paper (!) I didn’t realize that. Wow. I do remember that the Walmart staged fashion shows, and that these were regularly covered in the Banner.

    • Totally true, dear David! Oh, BTW, the other day his Dudeness and I were somewhere Out of The City and passed a Dollar Store. Dude: “Dollar Store? Does that mean everything in there costs a dollar?” I’m guessing he didn’t grow up going to the Dime Store.

  6. I have been to the US a few times and Wal-Mart is always a must. We LOVE it especially when I am a trip with my female friends!! My first trip was in 2001- that fateful summer- and we had moved to the Jersey coast to work the season. Our new landlady took one look at our Irish get ups (jeans, hoodies etc ), packed us all up in the car and brought us to Wal-Mart to buy shorts before we sizzled. My first trip to Wal-Mart!!

    • Oh my! I love that you were one of the “Irish Kids” who comes to the East Coast to “work the season”. Out Eastern Long Island Way, we see plenty — like at Gosman’s in Montauk — and you Young People are always so eager and friendly. (Besides, we love the accent). So glad you discovered Walmart through your landlady. And also (selfishly) that you discovered my blog. xoxo

      • I love your blog! I must write about being in New Jersey. I think I would gave much preferred Montauk though. I have been looking at on TV recently. It looks lovely! Am glad you like the Irish abroad!

  7. Ha! A kid named Walmart. Well, we had a Dairy King too, which is so funny. Tho my town (of about 5,000) tried like heck to keep Walmart out, knowing it would kill the German bakery (it did) and the other little stores. After a long fight Walmart finally won. Weird, I know, but to this day, I have never bought anything at Walmart. (I have been.) And I’ve never even been in a Costco. I have been invited by friends, but I abhor grocery shopping, no matter where! I don’t want to make that my Ladies Night. I do miss my food co-op where we used to live and now go to a regular Safeway or the seafood store (we are in MD, after all.) And summer is the best because my hubby grows all the veggies we could handle. We are eyeball deep in dark leafy greens and turnips at the moment!

    • Girl after my own heart! I absolutely abhor grocery shopping. In the City I get all my groceries delivered. (I order them on a website called Freshdirect) And out in Amagansett I do what I call my “vector”: once a week I get in the car to go to the 1. Dump 2. Farm Stand and 3. Grocery store/post office/wine shop, which share one parking lot. Done! As for Walmart, I hear you. Sooooo unpopular, especially on the East Coast. It didn’t do my hometown main street any good — but by the time it arrived, our downtown was pretty much abandoned anyhoo. The taverns survived — and are thriving!

I'd love to hear from you