Current mood: calmFact: Prior to last Friday, I had not set foot in any Wal-Mart since 2002.
Fact: I have not purchased a single item in any Wal-Mart since 1998.
[Update, 16 June 2011: I have not set foot in a Wal-Mart since I wrote this in 2007.]
Some of this is intentional: I do not shop at Wal-Mart, if at all possible, for several reasons (details below), but a more general fact is that I do not shop at all, if possible. Note that I am the person in my household who does the larger part of any shopping that gets done, so this is not a "someone else does that" type of thing.
No, the larger issue is that I just plain do not shop. I don't buy stuff. I don't need stuff. What stuff I use, I typically reuse from stock on hand. Lots more comes from discards, either from The Freecycle Network, straight from the trash (it's amazing what businesses and people throw out), or the occasional bag of hand-me-downs from someone we know. It's not so much charity as friendship, as we return the favor just as often.
The Three "R"s: Reduce, reuse, recycle. We've heard that mantra before, haven't we? Well, I live it. I do not use what I do not need to use (that's the reduce part), I do not use new stuff if a previously used item will do, and when I'm done with it, it probably won't go to a landfill.
But as to Wal-Mart, probably the easiest explanation is that there isn't one handy. The McKnight Road corridor has three major malls and four major plazas, plus a Sam's Club [well, in 2007, it did, but it's since closed], but no Wal-Mart.
I do most of my shopping at stores I can walk or bus to (Pines Plaza, West View Plaza), and this fact alone is worth accenting: If I cannot get to a store by bus, then I won't shop there even if I have a car handy.
Most importantly, I do not shop on price. If I like a store (see previous paragraph), I will go out of my way to shop there, and will gladly pay more, because I want to keep them in business.
Price is irrelevant. If I need the item (see 3Rs paragraph, above), then I don't care about price. If I'm short on money, I probably spent money on something else I didn't need as much (again, the "reduce" part) or that I too soon discarded something I could have reused.
Now, as to Wal-Mart. They're focused on low price, which is antithetical to my beliefs. They use price to drive out existing businesses. They're usually placed on green-space sites which have little public transportation, or where it is costly for transit to service. Hence, they foster continued or increasing dependence on the automobile as part of their business model, and thus on our lifestyle.
Long ago, I asked myself this simple question: If I could not use a car to get to Wal-Mart, would I shop there? The answer was no.
Consequently, even if there was a Wal-Mart nearby, I would not shop there. Even if there were no other stores nearby, I would not shop at Wal-Mart. I refuse to contribute to their growth or profit. In fact, I would "do without" first.
And I suggest everyone else do likewise.