Sam’s Club–The Odyssey

Last weekend, I went to Sam’s Club. Yep, I went into a big box retailer. Folks who know me know how difficult it must have been for me to cross the threshold into the abyss. The place just doesn’t sell the brands that I shop for. Nor does it sell quantities that I want to stock. So, why did I go?

I was assigned the task of buying soda for one of the Horst Engineering vending machines. The usual vending machine technician was on holiday and we were running low on inventory. If I had been spotted by any friends with my monstrous shopping cart overloaded with soda and bottled water, I would have been seriously exposed. This blog post alone might keep me from achieving any sort of elected office someday. I bought soda, and I regret it.

Just the fact that Sam’s Club exists is enough to give me a stomach ache. The obesity problem in our society is directly attributed to the kind of crap sold in bulk at stores like this. I just don’t buy the concept that Americans have to stretch their buck as far as it will go and that everyday low prices is the way to do it. Even in a recession, we shouldn’t be resorting to fast food and cheap food in an effort to consume more calories per dollar.

At Sam’s Club, the pallets stacked 40 feet high screamed, heart attack! I studied Wal-Mart case studies extensively in business school. There is no question that it is a killer channel for both food and consumer goods manufacturers. There is no outlet quite like it. Wal-Mart’s sister company, Sam’s Club, has a little better reputation, and offers bulk deals. It is similar in scope and scale to Costco, B.J.’s, and others.

I actually don’t have a problem with the basic supplies that you can get there. Batteries, plastic containers, paper goods, etc. are all a good value when purchased for the right reasons. It is the low grade bulk food that I don’t understand. Who needs a 30 pound bag of chicken wings? Yuck. How about gigantic boxes of sugary cereals? What about the bottled water? A total waste. The soda? It is sold in shameful quantities.

I probably come across as some sort of food snob. I’m proud of the fact that I don’t eat that stuff. I eat less and I eat better food. Don’t think for one minute that I pay more for my food. Look at total value, including the cost of being overweight and sick. Eating right now, pays off both now and later. When you don’t eat meat, you can deploy your dollars in other ways. Better ways.

It pained me to load up the soda machine, but it is hard to get people to change. Take away the soda and the convenience of bottled water, and we might have a mutiny. I’ve got a plan to solve the bottled water issue at Horst Engineering. By mid-year, we will have water coolers with filtration installed and everyone will get a reusable bottle. That is the least we can do to eliminate more plastic from the waste stream. As for the soda. I don’t have a solution. People drink it by the tanker truck. There is no nutritional value to that stuff. None whatsoever. I’m fortunate that the soda machine technician is back from vacation.

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