June 16, 2012 at 4:42 am

The Worst Walmart & Me

My local Walmart is making news headlines as of late, and not in a good way.  The Business Insider led with “This Rodent Infested Walmart May Be The Worst In The Country”.  Yep.  It definitely might be.  They have failed five health inspections since January.  The violations read like a prop list in a campy gross teen movie.  Pounds and pounds of defiled food.  Very old mice carcass.  Over 1,000 fresh droppings.  It is unbelievable that they are still open, never once having had their license revoked or being forced to close.

Tonight I read an article by Steve Kurlander on The Huffington Post about how boycotting our local Walmart is not the answer to the situation.  He advocates supporting them in making the store change into a shining example that every Walmart wants to be.  He writes for the Florida Sun-Sentinel.  I sincerely doubt that he has never stepped foot in the Sullivan County Walmart.

I, on the other hand, have shopped there at least weekly for the last nine years.  I have overlooked bathrooms with two out of four toilets not working and two out of three sink faucets broken.  I have guided my shopping cart through dog food poured out in the aisles.  I have waited for half an hour and three separate pages over the store intercom for someone to help me in the paint department.  I have been told by customer service that the current promotion advertised on the tv is not true, and only after pulling it up on my smart phone on their very own website was given an “oh, my bad”.  I have had to stand and argue with an assistant manager about their coupon policy, which I have printed and am holding, with her yelling at me “no way, we is Walmart”.  Her exact words.

I have lived and frequented Walmarts in Albany and Rochester New York as well as the suburbs of Boston.  Never have I come across a more understaffed, disorganized and down right dirty store.  For years I have heard tales of friends and neighbors driving the hour to Honesdale, PA to shop in their store.  Tonight my family and I drove there for the sole purpose of doing our household shopping.

My husband and I are huge advocates of buying locally.  We frequent many of our local establishments and pay a bit more just to get it in our county.  Even when it comes to large purchases like stoves and refrigerators, we have ordered them through the small Sears store in town and had it shipped to their location.  It pains us that so many members of our community think nothing of taking that paycheck and spending their money in the next county over where the mall is located.  It is giving four or so percent to those residents, leaving ours empty handed.  So it was with great thought and consideration that we piled into our family minivan after the little league game this evening.  It was not a decision we took lightly.

Here’s the thing.  My sixth grader should not be going to bed worried about a Bubonic plague outbreak among his classmates whose families depend on the low prices to make ends meet.  He learned about it in school this month, and the rodent feces are worrying him sick.  I should not have to run a replay in my head of the last time I checked out at that store, candy bar in hand.  I am constantly thinking of the health inspectors report with things like nibbled snacks and aged rodent carcasses on those very checkout shelves.  When we were driving my husband was talking about his concerns with the sub sandwiches we fed our youth group in January, around the time they were reported by a consumer and the inspections ramped up.  The very period of time that birds were hanging out in the deli area where the sandwiches were made and their feces were on the cheese and meat cases as well as flies hanging from a fly strip over where they prepared the food.

Is the system screwed up?  Absolutely.  If it worked properly Walmart would not have been given five failed chances.  They would have cleaned the store six months ago, not now when all eyes are on them.  Even with failed inspection after failed inspection they still only had an exterminator visit the property once a month.  Once a month?  Obviously their gamble on the cost versus benefit worked in their favor much longer than conceivably possible.

I am a product of the American lifestyle.  I have been taught from a very young age that we as a people make the decisions with the almighty dollar.  Think the tabloid stories are intrusive and predatory?  Don’t buy the magazine.  Boycott a store when they express contradictory political views to the ones that you hold dear.  Go out and buy a ticket to that controversial movie with the message that you support.

I take it to heart.  Continuing to patronize an establishment that is grossly negligent of the health and well being of not only myself but of my entire community is not the answer.  We deserve so much more.  The way to make my opinion felt is by keeping my money out of their hand.  Maybe, just maybe, that will make them wash their hands first.


  1. That is absolutely disgusting, and I find it outrageous that store has not been shut down. I have never been a fan of some of things which occur in Walmart. I had a not so great experience working at one of their stores a long time ago. We opened up a new super center. The air conditioning units were not in so it was really hot. We were told we weren't allowed to have water at the register and if we wanted a drink to run to where the water fountain is at. That policy stopped when one of the employees had a heat stroke. Our local WalMart does not restock anything until evening time, they're produce is constantly moldy, and they're bathrooms are never clean. Today I helped an elderly woman get a box of angel food cake mix from the the top shelf because lo and behold there were only two left at the very back.

    It shouldn't be allowed for that store to keep running with 5 failed inspections. One I can see if it was their first time but anything after that is a red flag.

    I am a full supporter of spending locally but I won't risk my family's health to spend local.

  2. we prefer to shop at Shoprite when we are in the neighborhood. the only thing I get at WalMart is picture frames.

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