Part 281: People of Walmart

RECORD STORE TALES Part 281:  People of Walmart

You know what I really hated?  (No, really this time!)  Customers who went out of their way to tell us that Walmart or Future Shop or Best Buy had something cheaper.  Much of the time, the customer wasn’t looking for a better deal on a CD.  They just seemed to relish letting me know that somebody else in town had a cheaper price.  Most of the time, I couldn’t have matched a rival’s prices anyway.  Big box stores’ prices were often below our cost, because of the sheer quantities they purchased.  Or, they sold a CD below their cost as a “loss leader” – getting somebody in the store to buy the new Backstreet Boys and taking a loss on it in hopes that they also buy other stuff.

I remember one obnoxious lady, in the store with her three kids.

“Do you know that Walmart has your Backstreet Boys CD there for $3 less than you have it?  HAH!

Really?  You needed to throw that “HAH!” there at the end?


Play with friends!

The truth was, I couldn’t have cared less.  We had a pricing structure that allowed us to be competitive with other record stores.  Walmart have it for $3 less?  Then buy it at Walmart.  I’m not going to be able to compete with them on the price of the new Backstreet Boys CD.  Also, those big release sales were generally just for the first few days of release.  By the weekend, their prices would be closer to ours.

Essentially we only carried new stock so we’d have those titles when customers asked for them.  We made all the money on the used stock and accessories.  If a customer came into my store and bought the new Backstreet Boys, great.  If they came into the store looking for the new Backstreet Boys but also bought two or three used CDs with it, then that’s what we were aiming for.  Sometimes we tried the “hard sell” at the cash register.  “Now don’t forget to stock up on blank CDs and CD cleaner while you’re here!  We have this CD cleaner for $5.99.”

You want cheap new releases?  Great!  Who doesn’t?  If that’s what you’re after then by all means, go to Walmart.  But if you wanted fair prices, lots of used CD selection instead of all the new releases, knowledgeable staff and a more personal touch than Walmart?  Come to us.  Put your name on a waiting list for a used copy of the new Backstreet Boys.  When it comes in, it’ll be cheaper than Walmart’s new copies.  As an added bonus you don’t have to look at the “People of Walmart” or be treated to their impersonal style.  Not good enough?  Then support Walmart and big megacorporations.  No skin off my sack!


  1. Yes, but YOUR store probably had more obscure titles. Wal-Mart always had crap. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a CD at Wal-Mart. Your store’s franchise at least…dozens.


        1. In Japan fairly recently, Wal★Mart has partnered with the Japanese dep’t store chain “Seiyu”. The stores are still called “Seiyu” but they have some items from the U.S. Walmart stores on their shelves now.

          On most recent visit to America, I went to a Walmart in Florida for the first time. It was an experience!


  2. I reserve a special burning hate in my heart for Wally World. And yet I find myself in there on occasion. It’s the cheapest place in town for baby diapers and man, I have no problem with that.

    I have been known to find treasures in the $5 bin of music in there – that’s where your Metal On Ice CD came from! – and on that same trip, which was the last time I was there, they had the first Sabbath record, Deep Purple’s In Rock and Dio’s Holy Diver in that bin. True, they’re the basic editions and you already own the super-deluxe cadillac versions of those, surely, but it ain’t all shite in there.

    I do my best to stay away from the Evil Empire that is Wally World, but sometimes they’re cheapest for consumables. Also remember, my (smaller) town doesn’t have a CostCo or, frankly, many other options. The Zellers closed, and that leaves grocery stores. That’s it. Wally’s the only game in town for some stuff. Mostly stuff for the kids. Not often for music. But sometimes!


    1. That Metal On Ice was a great steal, and if you needed those Deep Purples and Dios, I’d say go for them as well! They’re still in print releases.

      In a smaller town like yours, options are a lot more limited. It’s too bad. In Port Elgin there used to be a small shitty record store, but it was a record store. Now they have a Walmart and you can only buy used music at the book store.


      1. Metal On Ice review is up on the KMA. Give ‘er!

        Limited options is the name of the game here in my town, man. It’s sad.

        I remember the record shop in Port Elgin, it was kitty-corner to the Esso. I think it was a photo place, last time I checked.

        Oh man, the used music at the book store is such shite. The dude that ran that place (and the one in Southampton before he amalgamated them into the PE location) got out of it (or at least stepped back), and his buddy runs it now and the buddy couldn’t care less about music. Or books, for that matter – last summer his shop was half-empty and what he had was garbage. He seems to be trying to make a go of it solely on the used guitars he has for sale. So there’s basically nowhere to go but Wally World over there, now.


    1. “The Internet” has it cheaper — yes we used to get that too, when I was managing the record store’s website. Somebody has it cheaper — but are they charging shipping? Yes they are and we are not.


  3. Yes, like all things, Walmart most likely had it cheaper. But do they really care about the customer or even give a damn about the quality of the stuff they’re selling? I have to agree with Sarcal, they don’t have the more underground titles many people like us would want.


  4. I think Universal (Columbia/Epic)?? has a deal with WalMart on cds. I know I once came away with Aerosmith Rocks, Screaming for Vengeance, Dream Police and a few other ones for $5 each. Heaven and Hell Live as well. Of course you need to find a WalMart with a fairly well organized section. For some of us who do bulk shopping (diapers, etc) WalMart can be our best option. They have a better selection than Target, lets say. Canada has Target? Best Buy? fuggetabit. Can never find anything there.


    1. Canada has Target, but it sucks up here. Terrible.

      Walmart does occasionally get exclusives…Kiss’ Sonic Boom was a Walmart exclusive, as was the most recent Eagles and Foreigner.


  5. I try to stay away from Walmart discs because they’re usually the “clean” versions where they take out all the ‘fucks’ and ‘shits.’ I’ve heard a few albums that are completely different when you edit them.


  6. what? u had a waiting list for used cd’s? We don’t have that, at least I haven’t heard of it and I’ve been a regular at tons of record stores, always get a discount but nobody have never ever mentioned there being a waiting list for used cd’s. Missing out.

    Liked by 1 person

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