Friday, October 12, 2007

I Cannot Fathom Why K-Mart Still Exists

I've mentioned before, in passing, how badly K-Mart sucks, but I never really have brought up why I think they suck. Today, they pissed me off by being inconvenient when I was pressed for time, so I'm going to unload. Bear with me and be thankful, because it's saving me from stabbing the store in the gut.

If you have ever thought Wal-Mart was the lowest common denominator of the human experience, you've obviously not been to a K-Mart since about 1990. I remember back in the 1980's, when K-Mart was actually foolishly trying to compete with Wal-Mart, the store looking cleaner, sharper, and more attractive, but now it's a hollowed-out shell of its former self. Walking in a K-Mart these days is more reminiscent of a Farm & Fleet in an extremely rural town, like the kind where Farm & Fleet is the major consumer epicenter. The shelving, racks, wall fixtures, paint, floors, and signs are so dreary I honestly don't think they've actually been replaced since the early Nineties, even in stores built since then. It's like they gutted a fallen store and transported the stuff to the new location to save money. The atmosphere of the average K-Mart is cold and foreboding, like an abandoned barn or a haunted house where the walls are screaming at you to "GEEET OOOUUUT" in flat gray enamel.

Even the outside awning of K-Mart makes it look like the building designers just don't care about impressing us anymore. More flat, steel gray painted over an architecturally uninteresting face. When you go to Wal-Mart, the starkly contrasting blue peaks over the doors make it feel like you're entering some sort of consumer palace, even if it is one apparently run by Baron Bon Corky. Target's red awning is eye-grabbing and modernistic. K-Mart's wise choice of gray on gray painted over a flat, dull rectangular building makes it no more distinguishable from the road than your average warehouse, and who wants to go spend their free time in a warehouse, besides ravers, potheads, and the Scooby-Doo gang?

Inside, K-Mart looks like a desolate wasteland of forgotten merchandise and negligent housekeeping. What merchandise they do carry is outdated by about two years and sparsely populating the shelves anyway. I went to the local K-Mart earlier today and people had strewn merchandise all over the floors. It was like walking through the world's largest toy room for the world's laziest child. Unlike Wal-Mart where items are generally misplaced due primarily to stupidity, K-Mart's items are misplaced due to apathy. Why should the customers care about putting stuff back where it goes when the shelves look like they haven't been adjusted since 1983? I walked around a couple of sheet sets laying on the floor. I considered picking them up, but I had no idea where they were supposed to go and there was an employee meandering down the aisle anyway. I watched the employee eye the sheet sets, shrug, and keep on walking. Unlike Wal-Mart, where the employees are just expected to not care, K-Mart's employees seem to put a concerted effort into no caring.

Probably the worst thing about K-Mart, aside from the overall lack of selection and ironically cramped atmosphere, is the customer base. If you thought Wal-Mart customers were some of the most profoundly stupid, unwashed bovine herds in existence, you haven't been to K-Mart since the great downfall. Basically, K-Mart customers look like the ones who couldn't meet the minimum requirements of being Wal-Mart customers, and Wal-Mart customers don't even need to know how to not poop themselves in the customer service line. Shopping at K-Mart makes you feel like a degenerate, because only degenerates shop at K-Mart. Sure, you could just be popping in for a package of printer paper becasue they're the first closest retail store to your house, but at some point you look around and realize that you're now to be associated with the rest of the medical oddities that amble through the store like filthy crystal meth zombies. Yes, the customer service at K-Mart is unfriendly to the point of being hostile, but you probably would be too if three quarters of the customers you encounter look like the guy who murdered Batman's parents.

So I went to K-Mart today to pick up some professional resume paper, and they did not carry resume paper. What the fuck kind of major retail chain doesn't have professional resume paper? Apparently K-Mart, because they know nobody professional would ever shop there and risk being associated with the homeless wino setting fire to a steel drum in the electronics section. So I was already running out of time to get this resume sent out by the end of the day, and because K-Mart apprently does not like to stock fairly common stationary, I had to go to Target, which was far more out of the way even though I knew they would definitely have what I was looking for.

Every time I go to K-Mart for some random thing because they're closer, they just happen to be out of it or not stock it at all. The last time I went there over half a year ago they didn't have any envelopes. If you thought not having resume paper was kind of understandable, how the fuck does a store just run out of envelopes? The only reason I ever go to K-Mart for standard household items is if I'm pressed for time, and I always end up having to go someplace else because K-Mart is completely stocked with nothing but failure. You'd think I'd learn, but in all honesty, it's only been twice now since living in this town, but two times out of two is one hundred percent of the time, which is not a very good track record for not pissing me off.

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