Box Stores: To Buy Or Not To Buy

I’m sure many of you have been anxiously waiting to hear news of how my family (this is Kerry) has done returning to the ranks of the consumer masses after our Simple Year.

Or you are wondering who I am and what I have done with Kandice, She’s on vacation, so she has kindly asked me, to guest blog. Our family didn’t buy anything new during the first Simple Year.  We have now technically been allowed to buy things since the end of April.

During our Simple Year, for the most part, I stayed out of all stores, except the grocery kind.  It is a surprisingly good strategy for not buying impulse items such as corn on the cob holders shaped like farm animals and one that I am employing even now—most of the time.

However, when I REALLY determine I need something, I can just dash off to the nearest big box store. For the record, I would describe a big box store as one that covers at least three square blocks of real estate and has only two or three employees working there during any given shift, like Walmart.

On my first trip back to Walmart, I followed a woman into the store that was wearing jet black 8-inch high heeled pumps complete with zippers.  As she shuffled toward the greeter, I couldn’t help noticing that with each step her very short-shorts looked as though they were in danger of being swallowed by her dimpled cheeks only to pop back out again at the end of the stride.

It was eerily mesmerizing for a Wednesday afternoon.

Anyway, I was looking for a vacuum cleaner belt which is not the most exciting purchase, I freely admit. This was after trips to both Lowes and Home Depot (also giant stores that purport to SPECIALIZE in that kind of merchandise) to no avail.  A worker at one of the stores explained to me that they didn’t really carry a large selection of belts for the lower end models, because the vacuums themselves were so inexpensive to replace.


Aren’t there some things you shouldn’t say out loud when working at a hardware store?

So in a last ditch effort, I tried Walmart.

Not to state the obvious, but Walmart is large and confusing.  Just when you think you might be closing in on the hardware section, you are suddenly dumped out into a twenty foot display of snow cone makers and snow cone maker accessories.

Rarer than a Yeti sighting, in search of the illusive Walmart employee

Less common than a Yeti sighting, in search of the elusive Walmart employee


Finally, I caught a glimpse of the rare blue shirt scurrying across the opposite aisles.  Seeking directions, I began sprinting toward him shouting repeatedly, “Excuse me sir, I’m looking for vacuum cleaner belts.”

When I  caught up to him, I realized he wasn’t actually a Walmart employee, just a man who had the lack of foresight to be wearing an Indianapolis Colts shirt (same color).  Surprisingly, he did point me in the right direction, so the end result was the same I suppose.

Alas, no luck on the belt.

I did NOT buy a new hand held Dirt Devil even though I was sorely tempted and I am technically allowed, which is maybe what they are counting on by not stocking replacement parts ($22.99 on sale for a brand new one).  We ended up borrowing one for our final clean out of the rental property and soon, I’ll order the part from the manufacturer.

One thing I can say about the return to buying is that, while we have do have more options, they aren’t always better ones.

Author’s note: Spell check refuses to recognize the word Walmart and keeps giving it an angry red underline, a fact I find strangely gratifying. You go, spell check.