Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Super Center $200 shopping spree

Last September one of the good samaritans in my hometown gave my mother a Wal-Mart gift card for her birthday. She has always tried to resist the man's efforts to bring her food (which he does frequently; he checks up on quite a few of those getting up in years and provides them with food or other needs) although she usually takes what is offered. Not true with any other kind of help, especially anything perceived to be financial help.

She returned the gift card and he told her if she didn't keep it he was just going to send it to one of her "boys." I'm not sure she believed him but he kept his word. I received the gift card in the mail at the end of 2007. And I never told my mother I received it.

If you've read my blogs for any length of time you know I am not exactly a fan of Wal-Mart. It's one of the few retail outlets I've successfully boycotted for years, along with Exxon-Mobile.

Somehow I got the idea in my head that the value of the gift card was $200 but I wasn't completely certain. And I almost gave it away to someone more needy than I am on more than one occasion. However, since I was unemployed when I received it, and expected to be unemployed indefinitely, I decided to keep it. You never know when it might come in handy.

As for the boycott, I decided I can do this because technically it's not my money I'm spending. In fact, Wal-Mart already has the money and it's been sitting in their account for almost 7 months. Someone just had to go pick up the goods.

Today we stopped at a Wal-Mart and specifically a "Super Center." I decided if I'm going to do this, I might as well have the biggest possible selection of goods.

I must say, nothing quite takes your mind off your troubles like a shopping spree when everything is free. One item I knew I wanted was a 4GB USB flash drive. I know this isn't a vital necessity but it will come in handy pretty frequently. And I have a couple of old PCs I need to clean up and donate to charity. There are some files on there I'll probably want to keep that I never copied to my new PC and this flash drive will accomplish that task, and then I can get the old PCs out of my house. House cleaning is good for mental health.

These things are amazing! It weighs almost nothing. And all the 3.5" floppies in my desk that hold only 1.44MB are obviously so outdated. Hell, this little thing probably holds more than my earlier hard drives! This $46 purchase I had to make in the electronics area before we proceeded with the rest of our shopping. You know, high security, anti-theft policies and all that stuff.

And then came a surprise. What I thought was a $200 gift card was revealed to have a value of $350! On with the shopping!

The Super Center had quite a large and nice grocery section which included a few frozen vegetarian entrees we've purchased in the past. Prices were noticeably less. That's what we expect from Wal-Mart, right?

But we weren't here to buy groceries. I needed stuff. One of my other rules about this shopping expedition was that I had to keep purchases of goods made in China to a bare minimum, assuming that's even possible at a Wal-Mart. Sheets! Everyone needs new sheets from time to time, and these were made in India. So they met my criteria. And only $35 for a set!

Something else I've wanted for a long time is a set of Pyrex glass containers with plastic lids suitable for storing in the freezer. They aren't that expensive, but if you're buying several it does add up, so I've never bought any. Today I loaded up with six of them which came to around $34 more or less.

Now let me be clear I wasn't leaving out txrad in this process. The USB flash drive was really the only item that was solely for me. The rest of these were mutual decisions we both made. In addition to all these lovely items, we picked up a tube of Tom's of Maine toothpaste (a big surprise at Wal-Mart -- wasn't expecting that one) and I got a pack of razor cartridges. OK, those are solely for me... forgot about that.

txrad picked out some plants for the garden. Several tomatoes and two containers of basil. He's very clever when picking out veggies; he will find containers that have more than one plant in them... sort of a two for one deal. In fact, one of the basil containers had 3 plants in it. A couple of the tomatoes had two in them. So we scored well.

And after all this, the gift card still has over $196 on it, which is $4 short of what I thought the total amount was when we started all this shopping. Tell me this wasn't a good day!

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