It's been a whole month since the Walmart shut its doors in my podunk little town. I wasn't sure how we'd all survive without a Walmart. As I assess how my life has changed in those thirty days, I realize that there is indeed life after Walmart! Over the years I have grown accustomed to using many of the Walmart brand items and found myself dreading the thought of trying new brands of items I deem necessary in my daily survival. I've used the Walmart brand Rogaine for years...no, it really doesn't work...or does it? There are those close to me who say I've wasted lots of money on it. I have found those little blue Walmart brand sleeping pills to be very effective and I rely on a Walmart brand pill to help with my acid reflux. And I could buy a couple hundred Walmart brand ibuprofen for four bucks back when we had a Walmart. And now there is no Walmart.
There are four Walmarts up in the city, a forty minute drive from here. I must confess I have made the drive once since our Walmart dollar store closed, just to buy the necessities like that Walmart Rogaine. As I paid the sixty-five bucks for it and whatever else fit onto one tiny plastic bag, I pondered just how much I was probably saving by not shopping at a Walmart every week. As I ventured out of the enormous Super-Walmart onto a parking lot that spanned, I dunno, twenty acres, I came to the realization that our community was actually fortunate not to have a Walmart to take our hard earned money. Perhaps our quality of life might have improved over the past month. Perhaps no Walmart was a good thing, I decided as I meandered amongst hundreds of parked cars searching for my own.
I am not alone. Yes, Walmart made the first move by leaving our community, but it has opened my eyes to other avenues. I found an off-brand hair growth product on Amazon.com that is probably the exact same stuff I've been using and I can buy three bottles for what I was paying for one. I have some acid reflux pills in route as we speak and again, at a substantial savings. They will arrive at my door in just days and I didn't have to drive forty miles to get them. I didn't have to walk over ten acres inside a humongous store in search for them and I didn't have to frantically search for my car in a parking lot bigger than Texas. And this, folks, is the future.
Warren Buffett, according to Kiplinger (3 Reasons Warren Buffett Is Dumping Walmart Stock) dumped around twelve million shares of Walmart stock last year. We all know Mr. Buffett is a pretty shrewd businessman and I personally respect his insight into the economics of America. So why did he bail on Walmart?
Buffett has made no secret of his admiration for Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos. "We haven't seen many businessmen like him,” Buffett says of Bezos. “Overwhelmingly, he's taken things you and I've been buying, and he's figured out a way to make us happier buying those products, either by fast delivery or prices or whatever it may be, and that's remarkable."
Remarkable indeed! What Amazon has accomplished is beyond remarkable.
I remember the early days of Amazon, their gaudy ads cluttering up numerous websites. I personally never thought they would make it this far...I admit it. I was wrong. Way wrong. Even after making themselves the ultimate American success story, I had doubts about their staying power. Then came Amazon Prime. A hundred bucks a year! Hells bells, Costco doesn't even charge such an exorbitant fee! No, I don't have a Costco membership and I let my Sam's card expire years ago. I confess I am not an Amazon Prime member...but deep down, I know there will come a day when I pony up that hundred dollar annual fee. Because I really like to shop at Amazon!
Brick and mortar retailers are gasping for air. Ecomm retailers such as Amazon meanwhile have seen a 14.5% annual increase. Online purchasing is here to stay and I venture to predict that even with their frantic efforts to join the elite online club, retailers like Walmart will fall short.
Those retail giants failed to concentrate on what's important. They grew their businesses on what they envisioned....enormous stores on gigantic parking lots. They thought they could dupe their customers into believing the fallacy of 'Everyday Low Prices' even to the point of actually willingly standing in extraordinarily long checkout lines. They expanded their businesses relentlessly, shutting down local mom and pop operations, gobbling up every dollar they could get their hands on...and literally destroying entire communities with their greed. That's what they wanted...to get rich. Stinking, filthy rich.
We...just wanted to buy stuff. We didn't want to walk across hot, sweltering, crowded parking lots. We didn't want to trudge the length of Cowboy Stadium for a gallon of milk. We didn't want to haplessly wander up and down endless aisles searching for toothpicks. And we didn't want to stand in long lines like cattle at the slaughter house. We just wanted to buy our stuff.
I can pick up my laptop and buy almost anything I want on Amazon.com. I can do it anytime I wish, wearing anything I wish, right from my recliner. I likely can buy it at a better price than anywhere else. Why would I not want this in my life? It's just that easy!
I randomly searched through Amazon's site the other night and would you believe...you can buy goat feed, pecan trees, and even dentures if you're looking for that sort of thing. But there is something that Amazon lacks that Walmart has...real live people. It's true, I am the first to turn my head as scores of cute little housewives scurry past me in any given Walmart. I cannot deny I've noticed on occasion all those soccer moms in their tight yoga pants loitering on the detergent aisle on a Saturday afternoon, and then there's the infamous 'people of Walmart' you see on your Facebook page. As entertaining as all that is to a seasoned bachelor like me, those folks aren't who I speak of. Walmart and retailers like them have a secret weapon to fight back against the online giants like Amazon and those who will come next..people! Customer service, friendly employees, and lots of smiles. Amazon can't compete with that and never will. That, Walmart...and all the rest of you who wring your hands in desperation, is the answer you seek. It's just that easy...