Wal-Mart 2.0 vs. Wal-Mart 1.0: America’s Not-So-Little Secret
The class divide continues to grow in America and nobody seems to be giving a bigger middle finger to those Americans who fall behind than Wal-Mart. While most other large American chains such as McDonalds and Walgreens offer a nearly identical experience regardless of location, Wal-Mart has morphed into two distinct versions of itself.
For those that live in a shiny burb near a Red Robin, Bed Bath & Beyond and DSW, yay for you! You get the upgrade to Wal-Mart 2.0, complete with landscaping and some version of stone facade reflecting your neighborhood’s aesthetic. But if you live closer to the center of a medium-sized Midwestern city, or if you live in a rural area whose Wal-Mart is located on the main highway through town, then you still shop at a Wal-Mart 1.0. Y’know, the classic Wal-Mart. The one with the blue and red store front. The one that doesn’t sell vegetables. And if you’ve ever wandered the refrigerated section of your Wal-Mart only to finally ask an associate where you can find the cheese and were led to a shelf at room temperature three aisles over displaying Velveeta, then you know you aren’t doing as well as you should be.
The most difficult transition for Americans already reeling from the recession may not be job loss, home depreciation, foreclosure and bankruptcy. It may very well be the shock and trauma of moving from a Wal-Mart 2.0 to a Wal-Mart 1.0. Allow me to point out a few of the differences.
Wal-Mart 2.0 – A parking lot with clearly painted parking lines.
Wal-Mart 1.0 – Parking spaces only separated by chewed pieces of discarded gum and the occasional random flip flop.
Wal-Mart 2.0 – An entry housing a photo studio and a bank branch.
Wal-Mart 1.0 – An entry boasting a giant claw arcade and a CoinStar. Both are out of order.
Wal-Mart 2.0 – HD video monitors greeting guests with fancy graphics and special savings
Wal-Mart 1.0 – A toothless door greeter offering carts, but never sanitizer, to passing guests. (Actually, the greeter is totally throwback. Score one for 1.0)
Wal-Mart 2.0 – Most likely on the list of “No Park Wal-Marts” who don’t allow overnight RV camping in their parking lots, a long-standing Wal-Mart tradition that has allowed RVers a safe, free place to park for decades. It’s like almost as traditional and important as Wal-Mart’s “Made in the USA” campaign. Uh….wait.
Wal-Mart 1.0 – Still allows a little time to enjoy the evening on the front porch of your RV.
Wal-Mart 2.0 – Make your own frozen yogurt.
Wal-Mart 1.0 – Make your own dog tags.
Wal-Mart 2.0 – An entire aisle of scented candles, floating candles, votives, pillars, canisters, potpourri, sconces, incense and mirrored plates.
Wal-Mart 1.0 – Two candle choices: Jesus or Mary.
Wal-Mart 2.0 – A fairly strict no shoes, no shirt, no service policy.
Wal-Mart 1.0 – A fairly loose no shoes, no shirt, no pants, no bra, no tasteful tats, no basic hygiene, no pride, no problem policy.
Wal-Mart 2.0 – A variety of food choices, some actually green (naturally).
Wal-Mart 1.0 – A limited “food” section. Whole wheat bread not available. Light buttered popcorn also not available. Note: Only green food found by the author was Shrek 4 Fruit Roll Ups.
Wal-Mart 2.0 – Anti-theft devices on large ticket items.
Wal-Mart 1.0 – Anti-theft devices even on free items, like shopping baskets.
I’ve avoided my own neighborhood Wal-Mart 1.0 for nearly two years. On my first trip there after buying our not-2.0-worthy home, a woman waiting behind me in line volunteered that she was buying nail polish to cover up the ends of her fingers where her fingernails had all fallen out. “I just paint the skin, see? Just paint it right on there. Ohhhhh wow! How old is your baaybeee?” As she reached in to touch my infant’s cheek with her painted flesh stubs, I quickly turned my back, blocked the baby access and pretended to be deaf. I also vowed never to return.
But I needed some small American flags a few weeks ago for my son’s July 4th bike parade and I couldn’t think of anywhere else that might offer affordable, tiny flags made in China. I also needed to pick up some sandwich bread and light-buttered microwave popcorn. After hitting pay dirt on the mini flags, my luck ran out when I discovered an entire selection of nothing but white bread and only butter and extra-butter popcorn. That’s when I started taking pictures.
The disparity between Wal-Mart 1.0 and 2.0 has only grown over the years, just like America’s class system. And just like America, Wal-Mart has some splainin’ to do. I mean, what’s with the dingy lighting and lack of Garden Centers? You don’t think average people like lettuce or a stone facade? Have you walked into a Walgreens anywhere lately that still looks like 1989? C’mon Wal-Mart! I’d be willing to bet that a majority of your most loyal customers have to shop at a Wal-Mart 1.0. You owe them an upgrade. Besides, all the 2.0 shoppers will always like Target better, no matter what you do.