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December 23, 2006

I was in the midst of writing a good send-up of my shopping experience today at K-Mart when my web host (which had an editor that I use for writing these columns on here) abruptly kicked forward to a "File Not Found" screen. I hadn't tried to save anything, and perhaps that was my downfall, as backspacing loaded the last saved page, ruining what I had written. So I have to start again...

Because I planned ahead, almost all of my Christmas presents have been purchased, wrapped, and are under the tree. Luckily I didn't have to be out amongst the last minute crowd today, though I did go to K-Mart to buy some workout type clothes. Invariably, when I travel I end up leaving something of importance behind. Because of its proximity to my parents' house, and the expectation that shopping wouldn't be Wal-Mart crazy, I went to K-Mart.

K-Mart has been in a decline for several years, crunched between price at Wal-Mart and quality at Target. Without a clear identity, it has lost customer share, going through bankruptcy protection and new ownership by Sears. By that, and an association with Martha Stewart for its products, has not managed to stop the decline. That is particularly true at the Nolensville Road/Harding Place location in Nashville, which is where I went today.

You can see the writing on the wall for that store, with a brand new Wal-Mart on the site of the old Harding Mall ready to open literally any day now right across the street.

I managed to find what I needed in there fairly quickly today, though it's not like there were many workers around to help me if I needed it. But I tend to be a low-maintenance shopper (so long as I can find what I need) and so I had no complaints there. To its credit, K-Mart managed to have some decent clothes on sale. A pair of soft fleece pants I have on now was marked down to $7. Great success!

Checking out was a nightmare. A horde of customers waited to make their purchases in lines that weren't all well-formed, adding to the chaos of the situation. The line moved slowly, though they finally brought some additional workers to the front to open some more lines.

As I neared the checkout counter, I noticed that the glass door on a Coca-Cola cooler next to the line was open. Out of courtesy I tried to close it, only to find that it was stuck open. "Someone slammed it pretty hard," noted the man in front of me in line. It sure felt like it.

The woman running my line didn't say hello or do anything to acknowledge my existence as she began scanning my items. K-Mart could at least try to win at customer service, but not on this day. My Mom told me later about widespread problems she has seen there about advertised sales not showing up at the scanner, but I didn't experience that.

Here's hoping that you've finished whatever shopping you have to do. Have a great Christmas weekend.

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