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visit to Walmart


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Happened to visit Walmart today after a long gap. I found a remodeled shop which looks a lot prettier with wider aisles. Before I would bump into someone or the other with my cart on narrow aisles. The items were re-organized and on the average, they tended to be pricier. It is possible to find deals if you look for them but generally the price levels have gone up compared to where they were a couple of years back. The shop was very crowded with a full parking lot. Some sections like the underwear section were being replenished constantly as the demand seemed pretty high. The service was pretty poor.


Got a pair of running shoes for $12. This was a somewhat cheaper item as I couldnt find anything less than $15 two years back. Got fruit of the loom underwear and didnt notice any change in price either. One of the things I could find before was $4 T-shirts which were pretty decent to wear around the home. I couldnt find any of those this time. It was atleast $10 this time around. Looks like the Chinese labor cost has gone up. Found some clothes made in Bangladesh.


Electronics has a special section as Walmart successfully has bankrupted circuit city and put pressure on best buy. But prices for things such as watches has gone up. What was available for $5 has gone up to $10.


I think target generally has comparable prices and choices. The counters were very busy. The shop looked somewhat better. I noticed hardwood floors and nicer labels. Guess this is where the capex dollars have been going. Expect the capex to taper off somewhat as the hardwood floors dont need replacement every year.





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Funny you should say that, because I was in Walmart, Target, Macys, and Sears today.


They all suck if you are looking for a suitcase that doesn't have any give to it (I have a special purpose for it and soft luggage doesn't cut it).


So here I am at home tonight, struck out trying to get something so basic as a piece of luggage that isn't soft.  I just wanted a big suitcase to cram full of flyboxes and reels without worrying about the suitcase itself getting crushed.  I'm leaving tomorrow and now I need to pack my carry-on bag with this stuff which is not what I had in mind.


Two years ago I bought a 65" Mitsubishi DLP television from Costco and had it fail a few months ago (20 months after purchase).  The manufacturer had a 1 yr warranty on it but Costco automatically bumps all electronics warranties up to two years.  So, thank goodness for Costco.  And their telephone support lines are incredible -- they're open from like 5am until 10 or 11 at night and it's available every day of the week I think.  They had a local repair company pick up the TV from my house, fix it, and bring it back to me.  Costco is great!  Anywhere else and I would have been paying for the repairs myself, because this was past the 1 yr mark.


Today I walked past a wall of televisions at Sears and Walmart and thought, "The only place for that is Costco."


Last year I read a book by David Halberstam titled The Best And The Brightest.  I've been trying to find a way to think of Lampert as McNamara and Sears as Vietnam, but I haven't been able to make it quite work yet.  I need to think more about whether whiz kid number cruncher Lampert is at all like whiz kid number cruncher McNamara.  McNamara was pretty convinced in his numbers based strategy but reality really kicked his butt.  He isn't a stupid person either, and he had a reputation for greatness at Ford.  


I don't get any feeling that Sears is on any upswing or anything.  I didn't like Target either, it's just too small...  Walmart is the place I'd go before either of those two places, simply because it has everything (except hard luggage) and it's huge.  This Walmart is gigantic and it's only a few years old.  Maybe we're just looking for a garden hose... we'll go to Walmart and get some groceries at the same time, save a trip to another store.  Can't do that at Target.  Once you have a couple of little children, you'll understand why making just one stop is important.


My fascination with SHLD is that the shareholders seem to be making more money from lending the shares -- that appears to be the real business here.  They're flat out printing money if Eddie can just keep treading water slowly enough to keep the shorts engaged.




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