“I am so sorry,” I repeated for maybe the fortieth time as Mike and I walked through the automatic doors of a store we both didn’t want to enter.

“No, hon, I’m sorry. I know how you feel about this place,” Mike also repeated. We walked through the store briskly, wasting no time browsing. Ours was a get-in-and-get-out mission.

I hadn’t heard him ask me to get his board shorts out of the drier and throw them in his backpack, and he hadn’t realized I hadn’t heard him. Only once we went to jump in the pool at our friend’s house in the desert did he discover the mishap, and we headed to the only establishment within range at which we might reasonably hope to find board shorts:


In no way do I judge others for needing to save a few dollars on laundry detergent, but I choose not to shop at Walmart because of their labor practices and effects on local economies. They make me feel icky. Yes, I am one of those lunatics who actually believes that withholding my dollars can send a “message” to the big-bad corporate giant. I’m taking my $2.00 elsewhere for my toothpaste. Take that, Walmart.

Row after row of cheap plastic and polyester spread out before us in a glorious display of American consumerism, and I considered, “Am I committing a sin against my personal ethics? I mean, Mike could swim in boxers, right? In front of friends…and a few strangers…that wouldn’t be weird at all. Or wait, if it’s him buying the board shorts, do I have to take ethical responsibility for that purchase? It’s not like I’m paying for them…”

I swallowed a huge lump.

We made a beeline for the menswear department, and picked through the plaid golf shorts, the meshy sport shorts, the endless rows of obscenely colored basketball shorts.

“I’m not finding any,” Mike said.

“You could wear these,” I giggled, holding up a pair of silky camouflage shorts. God alone knew their intended purpose, and Mike shot me a dirty look.

“Maybe we’re missing them. Lemme ask someone,” I offered proactively. Get-in-and-get-out.

Locating a woman sporting a blue smock behind the jewelry counter, I asked about men’s swimwear.

With all the joy of any minimum wage employee working on a national holiday, she shook her head and replied, “We just closed those out.”

“No board shorts? On Labor Day? Not even trunks?” I asked, wincing a little, hoping against hope that Mike wouldn’t have to swim in the yellow Chargers warm-ups. That would not be good for our marriage.

I found my way back to Mike to break the bad news. He held up a pair of tan shorts.

“Look what I found on clearance…”

“No!” I gasped. “They must be the last ones!”

Holding the fleshy-colored material up to the light, he asked, “They aren’t see-through, right?”

“No. I mean, probably not. I don’t think so. Maybe?”

He looked at me.

“Well, you could always buy the shiny camo shorts…”

I don’t know what I felt worse about: purchasing board shorts from Walmart, or being the indirect cause of my husband’s need to buy $7.00 possibly-see-through* swimwear.

I may have sold my soul, but man, that water felt good.

*Don’t worry, they weren’t.


I will not be seduced by your low prices! Unless it’s an emergency. I’m a terrible activist.

– – –

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Come visit us at Yeah Write, home to the best writers on the web. They let me join them because they’re charitable and their souls are made of Gerbera daisies.


Walmart Trunks — 60 Comments

  1. The Mart of Wal is awful. I feel the same as you. But recently they extended health benefits to same sex partners of employees. At least they’re better than Chick Fil A.

    Since JUne 2012, when Dan Cathy made his hateful anti gay marriage remarks, I’ve boycotted them and got my wife and three daughters to do the same. we also banned Abercrombie & fitch because of their CEO’s sexist and ageist attitudes. also, “breastaurants” like Hooters are no no’s with us.

    a little goes a long way and if your soul is emboldened by taking stands, it’s the best you can do.

    Here’s my Chick – Fil A article from last year.

    Lance recently posted…Radiohead – Twisted Mixtape TuesdayMy Profile

  2. Your dollars, or lack there of, do speak volumes. I do this with a lot of retailers for a lot of different reasons. There are the occasional emergencies & some times you just got to do what you have to do. I’m glad I haven’t yet needed that emergency with CVS – I’m approaching 3 years w/o spending a penny

  3. I ebb and flow on Walmart but generally avoid.

    As far as taking a stand with your dollars – of course it matters – and it adds up if enough like-minded people do the same.

    As for shopping emergencies – I believe I finally ended up buying a bathing suit there once too while pregnant – because I needed one that fitted and wasn’t willing to pay some outrageous amount from the mat store for something I’d wear for three months. They apparently pull you in with aqua sports…
    Louise recently posted…Organized Learning and FunMy Profile

  4. UGH I feel the same way about Walmart. We never go when we’re here but when we visit my husband’s parents, and need the five things we always forget (toothpaste for the boy? tampons? benadryl because I am allergic of their cats? WHATEVER stupid forgotten thing) they are always the ones that have it. Sigh. Glad they weren’t see-thru. At least the shiny camo pants would have made an awesome post 😉
    Kristi Campbell recently posted…The best sex songsMy Profile

  5. I think I have those board shorts as well. My universities tried to make me anti-Walmart, but really, Walmart is just one of many, many, major retailers to have nasty business practices. Many of my friends will shop at Target, but not Walmart, and it isn’t much better to employees or local businesses.

    Still, I do try to avoid these stores as well. Unfortunately, I love clearance. Fortunately, Walmart has the worst clearance mark down system (besides clothing). So I don’t need to shop Walmart’s clearance much.

    (Sigh), I need a life.
    Chris Plumb recently posted…Hyperbolic First World Problems Filled with Idiotic Interjections.My Profile

    • Ha! And I know – I actually boycott quite a few stores for the same reasons. I wage my own private war against corporate America…I would rather support our local businesses than make the Walton’s more wealthy.
      I love clearance, too. Actually (shh, don’t tell) most of my clothes come from the Goodwill – that’s how into cheap stuff I am.

  6. I love your blend of humor and honesty. I also liked your slang -“Lemme.” Walmart degrades one’s speech and overall intelligence. I’m glad you didn’t linger. I worked there for a summer as a front-end cashier. I’m convinced it’s a cult that masquerades as a business. I don’t shop there, but I do frequent Target.
    From Novels to Board Books recently posted…Is it the Book or is it Me?My Profile

    • It does – I felt it invade my brain like a parasite. I worked for a big-business too, and it took a few years to overcome the icky-feelings it produced. It’s a very popular establishment, too, so it’s hard to explain just how money-grubbing the culture is.

  7. We’re a labour family (my grandmother was a shop steward in an aircraft munitions factory in WWII – my husband works for a union, and I met him volunteering for one), so we avoid Walmart (and Target) like the plague for all the reasons you listed. I’m always happy to hear we’re not the only ones! That said, emergencies happen, so I’m pretty sure your soul is still yours, unless you have paperwork that says otherwise… 😉
    Suzanne recently posted…Trifextra: ClosureMy Profile

    • It’s funny – no one in my family was a union employee, but they were small business owners, and seeing what they went through against the big bad corporations made me very sympathetic. Also, just seeing middle class jobs disappear in favor of low-level retail ones just angers me.
      And I know. A lifetime of never making a Walmart purchase atones for the one unavoidable emergency, I think.

  8. We don’t have Walmarts here or Macdonalds or any of y’all’s franchises so you’d think we have less problems like those and to a degree we do.

    However we do have businesses that I’d gladly boycott. Unfortunately I depend on them a lot.

    Great writing as usual. Perfect blend of humor and activism.
    Shanique recently posted…One Step Past ComfortMy Profile

  9. I am totally with you on the Walmart ban, and I thought your post was really funny, from the joy of the minimum-wage worker to the caption of your photo. I also boycott Target. I am a little fuzzy on why at this point. I think they may have supported the “corporations are people” thing. I hate shopping, so it’s not hard for me to stick to it, even if I forget why.
    Marcy recently posted…Zorbing: A Gigantic Hamster Ball and the Meaning of LifeMy Profile

  10. What- no picture of Mike in his trunks? 😉 I hate Wal-Mart too, but also because their stores make me feel like I am having a panic attack. Ugh. And because of People of Walmart. And of course, the morally sound reasons you mentioned. (Which by the way, I loved your commentary on your consumer stance!) What a funny story- you always make the mundane entertaining!
    Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. recently posted…The Brilliant Book Club: An Introduction and a GiveawayMy Profile

  11. Yay, so I’m not the only one who feels icky about shopping in Walmart. Maude knows I don’t have deep pockets. I’m one of those people who needs to hold onto a dollar as long as she can. Still, I’m a union baby. I’m from Detroit, blue collar kid and proud of it. Anyhoo, love the tone and humor. Made me laugh, and you gave my activism spirit a belly rub. lol

  12. I am the exact same way! And for the same reasons too! I will buy the Sunday paper there but only because I know they don’t make any money off of it! Glad I am not the only crazy person who lives by their ideals:)

  13. I’m with you Natalie. I don’t eat at Chik-fil-A, don’t shopaholic at Walmart, Abercrombie, or Urban Outfitters because they’re run by – GASP – Republicans. But seriously, I think it can make a difference. And sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do. Think AND swim. 😉
    Linda Roy recently posted…Is Anybody Home???My Profile

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