Why Target Kicks Walmart’s Ass

For some strange reason, “T” prefers clear and bright aisles filled with well-labeled merchandise, chipper employees who direct him to appropriate departments, and a well-running checkout line with open registers to match how many customers are in the store.

That’s why he abandoned Walmart, mid-schop, for Target one night, and wrote both companies a letter describing his experience.

What a freak! His America-hating letter, inside.


“This is a joint letter to the corporate headquarters of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and Target, Inc. I am writing to relate my recent shopping experiences at your stores in Knoxville, TN. A few nights ago, I went to our local Wal-Mart megacenter to purchase a few miscellaneous household items. I found the store in a state of near total chaos. It was about 9 pm, and customer load was moderate, but by no means overwhelming. The aisles were poorly marked, the floors universally filthy, and the shelves, where they were stocked at all, were completely disorganized. Many of the aisles held shelves piled with unmarked boxes to heights of ten feet or more. Within individual aisles, merchandise was displayed apparently at random with no clear divisions between differing products and few, if any labels or price tags. The aisles and shelves were only part of the store’s problems.

The few incredibly rude associates I encountered fit in well with their environment. Their appearance was slovenly and unkempt. Most wore non-uniform clothing in a poor state of repair and cleanliness. Despite the utter inability of the associates I encountered to direct me even to the correct departments, I gathered the items I had come for and approached the checkout counter. It was at this point my frustration reached its peak.

Of the almost thirty checkout lanes available, including numerous self checkout lanes, only six full-service and only four self-service lanes were open. In each of the six open full-service lanes, more than eight customers stood in line. At each of the self-serve terminals, at least four customers were in line. Taking the apparently faster course, I queued up in a self-service lane. Over the next twenty five minutes, each of the four self service lanes encountered a variety of problems, from lack of currency to scanner failure. None of these problems was addressed with any degree of seriousness and, when I inquired, I was told that this was “normal” and that no one on duty was trained to operate or repair the terminals. At this point, my quick shopping trip had taken over an hour, and I had yet to complete a single purchase. In disgust, I laid down my armload of sundries and left the store.

At this point, my night took a decided turn for the better. On my way home, I remembered that there was a Target store not far off my route home. I stopped and went in. My experience there could have been neither more pleasant nor more completely unlike that at Wal-Mart. I found a well-lit store with clean floors; wide, clearly marked aisles; eye-level shelves that were fully stocked and conveniently labeled. Moreover, I found friendly, knowledgeable associates who were easily identified by their neat, clean uniforms. I found everything I had come for in less than ten minutes. Over the next fifteen minutes, the ease of shopping at Target led me to accumulate a shopping cart full of merchandise. At Target, the checkout lanes were manned in proportion to the level of business and I concluded my purchases quickly. In all, I spent almost two hundred dollars at Target after having gone out for about ten dollars in light bulbs and shaving supplies.

I am a young man, but I have a number of years experience in the service-intensive hotel industry, and I make it a policy to reward good service when I find it. And that, really, is the crux of the matter: I am a young man. I have a lot of years left to shop, and a lot of things I’d like to have. In the future, my first choice, and the recipient of my disposable income will, without exception, be Target, rather than Wal-Mart.”