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Wal-Mart über alles

store.jpgI’m fascinated by Wal-Mart. It’s an interesting quagmire of humanity. Cluttered rows. Sticky floors. Like a porn theatre with the lights on. (So I’ve heard).

Even more interesting though, are their ham-handed attempts to flood the Blogosphere with bogus praise—courtesy of their egg-faced PR firm.

Does anyone remember Prodigy—the club-footed offspring of IBM and Sears that was mass marketed as an online service?

:::Squiggly flashback lines go here:::

I admit to signing up for a free-trial back in 1989. Unlike AOL at the time, with Prodigy you paid a low fee, and had unlimited access on your screaming 1200bps modem that only weighed slightly less than a four-slice toaster. But times were tough, so the story goes, and Prodigy began censoring any email that had "AOL" in it. As in "this service blows, I’m switching to AOL"—those emails vanished for some reason.

All because some middle-management marketer got too big for his Sansabelt britches and thought he could pull one over on the rest of us.

:::Squiggly flashforward lines go here:::

Now it’s 2006. And Wal-Mart is sending out press releases to bloggers. Hoping they’ll step-n-fetch their spoon-fed corporate credo in a new marketing ploy. And you know what? Like the rest of the crap they sell, a lot of folks are buying it.

But as creepy as it sounds, admit it, you’d still love to have a book (or five) on Wal-Mart’s shelves. Eye-level. Right next to the twelve-pound econo-pack of dress-shields and the Dale Earnhardt air fresheners.

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Reader Comments (22)

Would I actually have to enter the Walmart to see the book?
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
LOL! There is so much to love in this post: the Prodigy flashback, porn theatre analogy, Sansabelt slacks. I'll be the first to say hell yeah I'd love to see my book at Wal-Mart. Sales, baby. Sales. But that retail behemoth carrying my novel is as likely as James Inhofe joining the Sierra Club. Also, my character rips on Wal-Mart a little in the fourth chapter. I'm really aiming for Target. Oh, gods of Tarjay, please choose my novel for your Book Club. That is all. Thank you.
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJess
I must share a guilty secret. I bought Cloud of Sparrows in paperback from Walmart. On a whim, because I happened to see it there. (And no it was not eyelevel for me.)

The book & its sequel went on to become two of my favorites. But do I credit Walmart for that? No. I credit the author.

The only benefit to being in Walmart is that you're so surrounded by other crappy romances that any decent book really shines. :D

(Or if you're a romance reader, insert whatever book genre you don't like in that sentence.)
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterC. Rooney
They just opened a new Walmart in my city (we already have several). This is a chic Walmart according to all the press it's getting: organic veggies, 500 types of beer and wine, sushi, etc. It's right across the street from the Super Target. Let the battle of the Big Box retailers begin.

And please, oh gods of books, let my book eventually end up in both.
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJaye Wells
I stop and stare at the bookshelves, trying to fathom what sort of writing would land me there. But I haven't time to read much and when I do, well, let me just say my first Dean Koontz may be my last.

But a beautifully decaying shopping center in my town that has been half-empty for at least twenty years is soon to go under the blade and suffer rebirth as a Wal-Mart Supercenter, whatever that is, and the natives are generally unhappy about it. We hate change. We like the way the parking lot provides open space, and the vacant lot next door explodes in a hundred shades of green every March. All to get ripped out and go vertical so I can get the same crap five miles closer.
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDon
You don't have to flog me with a wet a noodle to admit I want twelve novels on Wal-Mart's shelves...
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkathie
Never bought a book at Wal-mart, but have tons of plastic containers from there. Plastic containers - can't find 'em cheaper anywhere else.
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDana
Don--I understand how you feel about Dean Koontz.

I read the Funhouse in the 7th grade. It was one of those books, like Judy Blume's Wifey, that was passed around because of the "sex" scenes (which were so brief that if you put the juicy words in a line they'd be shorter than this comment--ahhh, the innocent pre-MTV wonder years).

When I found out Koontz wrote Funhouse as Owen West, it sullied me on reading anything else. Although I did read Sole Survivor. Reminded me of John Saul.

Anyone have favorite Koontz books to recommend?

March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
great post! and walmart validates you in the eyes of relatives in a way nothing else can. so sad. :D
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranne frasier
Thanks Anne. You wield truth like a mallet.

"Ma, I won the Faulkner Award!"

"That's nice dear, but can Aunt Bernice get your book at the Piggly Wiggly?"
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
Dana is totally right about the plastic containers. I heart Walmart but I still have trouble going in there. Huge crowds make me anxious and Walmart has more peeps per square foot than the restroom in Fenway Park during the playoffs. Um. In this analogy, the Red Sox are in the playoffs.

Favorite Koontz book? You mean you can differentiate them?
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
I don't have a Wal Mart in my area but have visited one on a trip to Maryland a couple of years ago and it wasn't bad compared to Target. Target's red and white color scheme has this freaky surreal vibe that makes me feel like Mickey and Mallory from NBK are about to turn the next corner with shotguns a-blazing.

I did read Bentley Little's The Store-it was ok but the probelm with Little is that he starts off with cool premises but they break down and dissolve like half chilled Jello by the end.

There are some good Dean Koontz novels out there-I would recommend Intensity,Lightning,Dark Rivers of the Heart,Strangers and The Face.
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLady T
"That's nice dear, but can Aunt Bernice get your book at the Piggly Wiggly?"

Heh. Good to know it's not just my family.
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJaye Wells
I haven't been inside a Wall-mart since the mid 80s. Strange but true... oh, maybe that's because, for the most part, I've lived in the UK. Phew.
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra
Wow, Natural Born Killers. That's one movie I thought I'd purged from my data banks. Rodney Dangerfield is scary enough when he's just trying to be funny, let alone a lecherous stepfather type.

::: shuddering :::

Speaking of Dean Koontz. Anyone read Odd Thomas?

Alexandra—There’s a Wal-Mart in Ganjingzi, China. Only a matter of time before Stonehenge is plowed under to make room for a Super-Center.

But as Churchill said "we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie
I belonged to Prodigy.

I'd like my book to end up on the shelves at Wal-mart.

I also wouldn't mind an rich unknown relative crawling out of the woodwork and dying on my doorstep.

There, all my secrets revealed. Now I don't have to bother with a memoir.
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterm.g.tarquini
Addendum. That rich unknown relative must also die without a will, and scratch in the dust of my stoop that she or he wants all their thousands of shares of Apple to go to me.
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterm.g.tarquini
You wield truth like a mallet.


i love that.
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranne frasier
M.G.--we know there are more secrets. You're just waiting for the statute of limitations to expire.
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie
Jeeze you struck a nerve with this one, Jamie! WAl-Mart does it every time.
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkathie
Diggin' the blog! I also dig Wal-Mart, sorry to say. Yes, it's just a big, corporate rat maze but I love the idea of going to a store at midnight in my bummiest clothes to buy potato chips, shampoo and a DVD player. I hate shopping. The less trips I have to make, the better.
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBeckEye
Thanks BeckEye, and as they say at Wal-Mart, "thank you, come again." Or is that Apu from the Simpsons?

Lady T--Thanks, I was wondering if anyone had read "The Store". Not a terribly fright-inducing name. About as scary as "The Hairbrush" or "The Parking Meter".
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie ford

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