Yep, you read that correctly. The gal who is pretty anti-Walmart actually ventured into one yesterday to try out their new coupon policy. I had my reservations about the whole thing. I kept thinking to myself that it was probably going to be like almost every other one of my Walmart experiences—poor customer service, store in disarray, and cranky clerks who gave me a hard time about my coupons. My trip there last night was exactly the opposite of those presumptions and prejudices.
I went into the Walmart on Clinton Hwy in Knoxville, a store which I’ve been in before and had bad experiences. It was very close to our church where I had just finished an event, and I thought it would save a little gas to go there. It was also a relatively busy time for them. I walked in and asked the greeter where the travel sized item section was in the store. He didn’t know. Inside my head I grumbled, “See, this IS going to be exactly like you knew it would!” Then as I began to turn away, he said, “Wait, I’ll find out that answer for you ma’am,” and he walked to the store manager to find out for me. That was different! The manager was even nice to me!
As I walked to the section, the store was neat, tidy, and clean. Mind you, it was Sunday evening after hundreds of people had shopped in the store and another hundred were currently shopping. This was another improvement since my last visit.
I had my coupon bag ready and some high value coupons on hand to see if I could use them. I was shopping for the upcoming UMM breakfast at our church and picking up just a couple of things for our daughter’s party. Since Walmart requires a certain tax card to shop tax free, I just paid the tax and combined our orders. I had some coupons from the church and some that I had from our papers. I bought the following:
5 single packs of Purex 3 in 1= 97cts each (total of $4.85)
3 Gain small size dryer sheets=$1.87 each (total of $5.61)
1 Head and Shoulders travel size=97cts each
1 Secret Clinical deodorant=$2.47
For the church—4 dozen medium eggs (94cts each, total of $3.76), 1 lb butter ($2.98), 2 frozen OJs (total of $2.52), 1 frozen apple juice (96cts).
For us—4 goody bag fillers (12 counts of tracing rulers) at $1 each, 3 frozen limeade (total of $2.19), 2 frozen pineapple juices ($3.64)
Tax was $2.90
Total before coupons was: $36.85 if I’m doing my math correctly
5 $3 Purex coupons=$15 I only had 5 coupons or else I would have bought more
3 $3 Gain coupons=$9 I only had 3 or else I would have bought another one
1 $2 off Head and Shoulders from the new P&G mailer (no size restriction that I found)
1 $3 off Secret Clinical from the new P&G mailer (no size restriction that I found)
Total in coupons=$29
Total saved with coupons and sale prices 78.7%
The clerk, while not especially peppy, was nice enough. He didn’t give me any problems about the coupons, though I did have other items in my basket to cover the overage and I had the coupon policy ready just in case I needed to use it.
What did I learn from this trip that you might be able to use to help you with shopping?
- If I were couponing on a small scale, I might not bother with the trip to Walmart. If I only had one or two coupons that would give me overage, it might not be worth it. They still don’t double coupons, and as far as I know, do not have any e-coupons or store coupons available. As I looked at many of their products and prices, I kept thinking to myself that I could get it cheaper at Kroger, Ingles, or Three Rivers Market (depending on what product it was). Butter was about ten cents cheaper than what I priced at Kroger last week, regular gallon milk was about 50cts more at Walmart than Kroger, many of the organics were cheaper at Three Rivers, dairy in general was more, bacon was at least 50cts more for each of the brands, eggs were 5cts cheaper than Kroger medium eggs are priced this week, cereal was more at Walmart (all of the brands I checked), frozen juices were a little less but not but a few cents, almost all of the laundry detergents and cleaners I saw would have been cheaper elsewhere. In general, their sale prices weren’t cheaper than the other stores, but the products that they were highlighting as deals on the end caps were a little cheaper. I would recommend shopping at Walmart like you might shop at Target—know that some things will be cheaper than others, compare prices, use coupons to get free items (in this case overage), and shop elsewhere for the rest.
- Pack the coupon policy into your coupon binder or bag to pull out if they give you any problems. This is a good strategy no matter at what store you are shopping.
- I’ll probably shop at Walmart about how I shop at Target. I’ll probably swing by Walmart one time a month to buy items with the church coupons, focusing in on the freebies or cheapies. I’ll use any overage to buy food for the men’s monthly breakfasts, children’s program weekly suppers, VBS, or the food pantry. I might even send someone else to do the shopping with a detailed list and stack of coupons.
- If you are a regular Walmart shopper, you might want to make a habit of swinging by the travel section to see what is new in that department and try to match coupons that you have available. I make a point to do this whenever I’m in Target, and it is nice when I find something for free that I hadn’t planned on being able to pick up. Donate your extras.
- Don’t clear the shelves. I really try hard to not clear store shelves. If there are only a couple of products left, I might pick them up, but if there are 20 and I have 20 coupons it just doesn’t feel the same. I WANT other people to enjoy shopping and to use coupons. If they are continuously disappointed every time they shop because things are out of stock it no longer becomes fun. I understand the argument that everyone has a “right” to buy what they want, but again, it feels a little greedy to me to not leave a few for other people to enjoy.
- Read coupons carefully. I didn’t realize until yesterday that some coupons are now giving limits on them—only 4 per customer of the same coupon. I saw this on the Gain coupons and many of the new P&G coupons.
- Maybe they are improving. I want Walmart to improve their business policies and get better about customer service. With increased focus to eco-friendly processes (they are now printing front and back on coupons, for instance) and stocking their shelves with more and more organic options, I think that they are at the very least responding to what more consumers are asking of them. It would have been very easy for any of the store personnel to be grumpy to me. I was a bit guarded, as I was just waiting for someone to prove my presumptions right. Ever get like that—where you just know that something is going to be a certain way? Well, it wasn’t. Kudos to Walmart! Upon the recommendation of one of my readers and blogging pals, I tried a more rural Walmart late last year and also had a good experience. Today, I went during a busy time and to a busy store, and I still had a good trip. Two points for two good trips for Walmart! I’m pleased and feeling a lot more ready to try again in the future!