So retail experts say that there are 5 types of retail shoppers:
- Loyal Customers
- Discount Customers
- Impulse Customers
- Need-Based Customers
- Wandering Customers
Other researchers have specifically delineated 3 types of WalMart shoppers:
- Brand Aspirational
- Price-Sensitive Affluent
- Value-Price Shoppers
In my vast, almost year of experience as a Wally World produce associate, I have come up with a much more pertinent list of specific types of WalMart shoppers. Specifically WalMart produce shoppers:
This is the shopper who will hunch over the strawberries or bananas and closely inspect every single package or bunch for hours.
OK, minutes – but it seems like hours because, invariably they are doing so while they are in my way.
The Savvy Shopper
This is the shopper that says, “You know these are on sale at Bi-Lo/Ingles/Big Ed’s House of Stuff That’s Cheaper Than WalMart for $1.00 a pound.” And they expect me to do something about it.
“Did you bring in an ad from Bi-Lo/Ingles/Big Ed’s House of Stuff That’s Cheaper Than WalMart?” I ask. “Because if you did, I can contact management and they will see that you get the same price.”
“No,” they reply.
“Well then freaking go to Bi-Lo/Ingles/Big Ed’s House of Stuff That’s Cheaper Than WalMart and get out of my face!” I say politely.
You probably know that I don’t really say that last part.
This shopper is closely related to the previous two types, but takes it upon himself to share his vast knowledge of the particular produce item with you.
He will tell you where the grapes came from, why they are coming from there, and why grapes from that part of the world shouldn’t be consumed.
He will expound on the history of bananas, he will tell you why bananas are safer than other fruit, and he will tell you the proper way to peel a banana (yes, there is a proper way to peel a banana and, no, it’s not the way you’re doing it).
He has traveled and researched extensively and is qualified to tell you everything there is to know about every fruit and/or vegetable imaginable. He is in fact related to the Dole, Del Monte, and Chiquita families and was also – due to a growth spurt in his youth and the consumption of too many brussel sprouts – the original Jolly Green Giant.
People Who Don’t Seem to Understand That They Are at WalMart
Some customers just don’t seem to know where they are, as demonstrated by either their actions or the things they say. This category will be divided into sub-headings based on where these folks seem to think they are at:
People Who Think They Are at Costco
Y’know how Costco (and maybe Sam’s Club) has the nice people such as the lady in the above picture handing out free samples? That aint us.
Yes, there are some outside contractors who come in on weekends and demonstrate or give out samples in various areas of the grocery department, and sometimes they set up in produce; but that isn’t a regular thing.
So then, why do people feel free to just come by and take grapes, cherries, and occasionally blueberries and strawberries without paying for them? This phenomenon only seems to occur at the berry table. You don’t regularly see shoppers just grab a banana and start eating it, although on rare occasions I have been culling apples and found one with a bite taken out of it.
Do shoppers go to the music section and decide to sample the latest Black Eyed Peas CD in their portable CD player? Do they take a box of Cheezits off the shelf and knock back a handful? If they do, they usually understand that they should take the partially empty carton to the register and still pay for it. I’ve done that a time or two at the grocery store.
You do see empty merchandise boxes left around where someone has pocketed the item and stashed the packaging, but when people do that they generally know that they are stealing and they tend to not do it when Associates are present.
Grapes, not so much. They just do it right in front of me. Sometimes they ask “Is it OK if I try one?” If I’m in a nice mood, I say “Sure.” If I feel like being a brat I say, “That depends on how you feel about sulphur dioxide.”
The grapes are sprayed or gassed with sulphur dioxide as a preservative and anti-fungal measure. Sulphur dioxide is also used in dried fruits and vegetables, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages. It’s not usually a problem for healthy people, but the bags always say “Wash Before Eating.” So, I like to see people’s reactions when I mention “sulphur dioxide” because even though it’s generally harmless it sounds really scary.
More about preservatives and pesticides in the next section…
People Who Are Shocked! Shocked! to Find Out That They Are Not at Whole Foods
The best example of this was a very nice lady who asked about why there was a white residue on the apples. I just casually mentioned that it might be some left over pesticide.
“Pesticide?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes.” I answered. From the look on her face I could see that I needed to elaborate. I told her that most of the items in the produce section have been treated with some form of pesticide during the growing process unless they were labeled organic.
“Oh really?” She was genuinely flummoxed.
“Well…yes. Not only at WalMart, but any grocery store you go to. Unless it says that it was grown organically, it’s probably been sprayed with something.”
Shock…bewilderment…inner turmoil played on her face. She was falling down the rabbit hole fast. I had to do something to slow her descent.
“So…you always want to wash any fruits or vegetables carefully…before you eat them.” I said, hoping that she wasn’t thinking of a lifetime of poisoned apples that she had consumed and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of tumors that were even now warming up in her body, preparing for their big show.
Now, this lady didn’t look like she just fell off the turnip truck (actually if she had been on the turnip truck she probably would have known…never mind). She was well dressed, articulate, free of bodily odor. In other words, not a candidate to be on People of WalMart. She appeared to be in her late 30s or 40s, and yet this seemed to be the first time she had ever heard about pesticides being used on fruits and vegetables.
Without meaning to, I had totally destroyed her world. It was like I just told her who really shot JFK. Hell, it was like I just told her that I shot JFK.
Looking back on the whole thing it might have been wax. Some of the fruits and veggies are waxed to make them shiny and purty, had I thought of that at the time I might not have ruined this poor lady’s life.
But seriously, how can you not know that stuff you buy at WalMart is going to have shit sprayed on it? Hello? We’re freaking WalMart, the most evil corporation in the world. If we could inject heroin into our oranges to make you addicted to them we would.
If we could mist the produce department with LSD to make the apples and tomatoes say “Buy me! I’m really delicious and SOOOO good for you!” We would do that.
If we could broadcast subliminal messages throughout the store that say “Buy more stuff! Buy more stuff! And vote Republican!” We sure as hell would do that. And you’re surprised that we sell produce that’s been sprayed with pesticides?
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Another type of shopper who thinks they’re at Whole Foods or some other highfalutin chi-chi place are the people who ask for highfalutin chi-chi things like arugula, belgian endive, and micro amaranth garnet. Again…Hello? WalMart! All those things sound foreign, you’re lucky we have bok choi!
A yuppie looking couple came by one day looking for Veggie Wash, which exists apparently. OK, here’s what you do: Go outside, look up at the name of the store, then come back in and I’ll tell you about the very effective “veggie wash” product that comes right out of a tap in your kitchen.
And by the way, nobody has ever really asked for micro amaranth garnet. I just thought it looked obscure and funny.
But the Veggie Wash thing really happened, Scout’s honor.
People Who Think They Are at Disneyland
For some, Wally World may seem like the happiest place on earth, but that doesn’t mean that you should bring all of your kids into the produce section and let them run around screaming like banshees, unrolling the produce bags, grabbing stuff off the shelf, or climbing up the fixtures and smashing avocados with their feet as they climb (I didn’t see it, but I heard about it), all with no supervision or correction from you.
Lastly, my favorite…
People Who Think They Are in the Woods
Sometimes people, usually guys but occasionally women, come into the store wearing full on camouflage.
Now please understand that I’m not talking about the good and brave men and women who are serving our country at nearby military facilities who stop by the store still wearing their camo fatigues.
No, I’m talking about good for nothing zeroes whose idea of fun is to go out and kill defenseless animals for sport.
They can all sincerely bite me.
Because they’re wearing camouflage I always pretend I can’t see them.