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Wal-Mart plays Chinese Firedrill to mess with me

When we moved to our little coastal city 12 years ago, nearby shopping was nearly non-existent.  Our dining options were little more than McDonalds and Cracker Barrel and grocery shopping was limited to two small chains.  It was as though I had moved to hell.

There was not even a Starbucks.  I’ll just let that soak in.


And since we were moving here from Los Angeles, where I could throw a rock from Starbucks to Starbucks, this was a bitter pill to swallow.

Finally, in 2002ish, a brand new Super Wal*Mart opened, much to my delight.    Prompting Fiddledaddy to quip, “Now you can unpack.”

On opening day, I woke up early and packed my baby and 2 year old up to attend the opening day festivities.  Clowns were rampant, unfortunate since clowns sent Emme into fits of SCREAMING RIVALED ONLY BY THE DYING.  Undaunted, I took in all the sights and sounds and aisles and aisles of neatly lined merchandise.

Wal*Mart soon became my grocery store of choice because of the prices and merchandise selection.  A little overwhelming at first, I made a trip wherein I jotted down the aisle numbers and locations, and made notes about what products were housed where.

Because by that time we were a family of 5, and grocery shopping was more of a reconnaissance mission than a fun shopping outing.  Timing was everything.

Then I went home and made  2 documents on my computer.  One was the Wal*Mart master list, the other was a blank so that I could fill in what items were needed by specific aisle.  Therefore I could go from aisle to aisle quickly.

This is where you might shake your head, catching a glimpse into my level of crazy.

My lists have worked very well all of these years, until one fateful day recently when I happened in my beloved Wal*Mart and it looked as though SOMEONE SHOOK THE FOUNDATION, AND NOTHING WAS WHERE IT WAS SUPPOSE TO BE.

Wal*Mart was redecorating.  Not unlike me when I’m hormonal.  Except that I don’t do it to destroy lives.

WHY? I wailed.  The store is only 8 years old for the love of all that is good and right.

While everything has been in flux, I’ve purposely stayed away.  Mostly out of rebellion.  And partly due to the fact that I now travel at the speed of smell.  So Fiddledaddy has bravely taken on shopping duties.

This week he made such a trip for emergency supplies.  When he returned he said, “I have something for you.” Every hopeful, “Chocolate?”  “No, better.” Wherein he whipped out a hand drawn map of the new layout of Wal*Mart that he snagged from a manager.

At long last, Wal*Mart is finished messing with me.  As as soon as I’m able I will plan a mission to go a re-sketch the aisles with the correct merchandise and then re-do my spreadsheet.


I will utilize this handy little website called ZipList that I heard about from Desperately Seeking WordPress.  It’s a free online service that allows you to create shopping lists, choosing categories, and customizing the selected grocery store by aisle, so that your list is in order when you shop.

I’ve been playing around with it, and I have my 3 favorite stores listed: Aldi, Publix, and Wal*Mart.  I can assign items to each store, and save my shopping lists.  Suddenly I don’t feel like such a goober with my spreadsheets and color coded coupon organizer.

These people GET ME!

And hopefully everything will just stay put in Wal*Mart for another 8 years or so.  Or until the next manager goes into a hormonal rage and decides to redecorate.

Question for the day: When you do your grocery shopping, do you go armed with an organized list or just go commando?

36 Responses to Wal-Mart plays Chinese Firedrill to mess with me

  • List!

    I have a grocer list with 98% of our items already listed on there in their respective aisle. All we have to do is put a checkmark by each item needed. (Maybe I’ll get a chance to post a picture later today.)

    We have two local commissaries, and I have a list for each store (as they are each different).

  • I can’t imagine going without my list. I think I would go crazy.

  • I completely understand. Our Walmart remodeled recently also. My “quick” trip turned into a 90 minute scavenger hunt to find dishwasher detergent. I must have crossed the store from end to end 10 times with a gimp buggy, a daughter in blister causing sandals, and a 2 year old yelling “I Hungy, Mommy. I want to weave now!” Fun family moments. They may have made our Walmart “all pretty”, but they still have only 3 checkout lanes open.

  • I have an excel file that has my Master Grocery List by Walmart aisles- been using it for years.
    Then my Walmart decided to screw with me too, and I still haven’t gotten my file fixed up.
    I used to go armed with a printout of my list (by aisle) that included the highest & lowest price I had ever paid for each item with a total at the bottom (incl tax for those taxable items), my coupon tote and a pen to mark off items as I went or to record new prices.
    Yes I am OCD at times- why do you ask?
    Lately, I’ve been handwriting my list in any old order and spending WAY to long trying to find everything. Eventually, I will succumb and get things in order again but, right now, I’m rebelling as well. 🙂

  • I’m definitely a list person. Except that my list has stayed the same (layout-wise) since I got married. My 22-year old daughter commented recently that when she got married, she would probably make her lists exactly like I do, because she doesn’t know any other way.

    I feel your pain about the Wal*Mart thing. Ours is reorganizing too, and it’s only 4 years old. I’ve found if I just stand in an aisle and cry, an employee usually shows up to point me in the right direction.

  • Our Wal*Mart reorganized a year ago and it took them ages to finish. One week I was in there 3 times and every time it was different!

    I make a list but it is not in any particular order. I need to check out ZipList.

  • I like to have an organized list. Thanks for the link to ZipList. I’m sure I will love it.
    Our Wal Mart just remodeled, too. It’s only 6 years old. I took it personally and avoided going there until the work was complete. Now I just feel disoriented when shopping. Creature of habit here.

  • I use a List! Although I don’t put things in any particular order, I do my shopping at Walmart so the things on my list are split between food and non food items. So, I put an * beside the non food things and the fresh fruit and veggies so I won’t miss them and I can shop for them first. I do print my list on the computer and I skip a line after the list of things to buy and list my meals for the week, so I can remember why I needed something or buy something I forgot to list for a certain meal. Not overly complicated, but it works for me. This ZipList thing sounds cool. I am always trying to sort of put things in order on my list, but I never get it right.

  • This is why I love the house of Fiddle!!! We are soul mates when it comes to organising and chocolate and coffee….thanks for the link advice. Any site that helps with the grocery list and is free is the place to be. Glad that your knee is on the mend.

  • I hear ya…I actually quit shopping at our local Safeway because the reorganize their whole store several times a year very frustrating. Also I take a list with me, and when I write it I put it in sections as well like produce, bulk foods (for that all important chocolate) canned foods, dairy etc. However I like your idea better. I should make a master map of the store plan.

  • Well…it seems I don’t do the list thing like you all…I only write down the things I DON’t want to forget…so mostly commando. I really dislike grocery shopping so I guess making a list would be adding more time to a task I dislike anyway! LOL!

  • I too shop at Wal*Mart & have my list printed out by aisle. It actually sounds very similar to Christine’s, in that it has our most common items on it & we just have to put a check by the items we need. There are blank lines as well for items not already on the list. Shopping goes so quickly this way, I can’t imagine doing it without the list.

  • I think all the Wal-Marts are reorganizing to fit a standard layout. I don’t grocery shop there, but it’s just as bad to shop for regular merchandise when everything is moving even while you shop!

    I have an aisle by aisle list for my supersize Publix which includes nearly all the items we normally purchase. I made and refined this when my girls were still cooking and I was on bedrest. I couldn’t cope well when hubby arrived home with the wrong brands-preggy bedrest hormones are unreasonable when it comes to a purchase of Quilted Nothern instead of Cottonelle!

    I just started couponing again and it has been difficult as the deals are listed in a haphazard way, but if I don’t take the deal sheets, I get confused and end up not using all my coupons. So trying to mesh the super handy aisle by aisle all our normal purchases grocery check list with the impossible to determine the organization process deal sheets is nearly a full time job!

  • I keep my master list (qt, item, price, price x qt with a total at the bottom) on Excel in ABC order. We tend to get the same stuff over and over.

    Everytime I get ready to go to the store I copy the master list and name it with the date then fill it in. Once that’s done, I sort by quantity to more easily delete the stuff I don’t need this trip. Then… I sort my isle so I can make a quick efficient swoop through the store. I started that when the girls were little and there was a small window of opportunity available for grocery shopping!

    I’ll admit, when our Super Walmart remodeled a couple years ago I muttered in my head an amazing amount of colorful words. I still haven’t gotten over them taking away my fabric department! Evil villians!!!

    Love my list! Lost without a list! Spend way more money without my list!

    • Aaagghh. They took away our fabric department too! Not that I ever used it, but STILL. It was just comforting knowing that it was there!

      • HAHAHA Their loss! I love to sew. I probably paid the store manager’s salary with my impulse buys in fabric! When will they learn???

  • I do a litle of both. And I totally get you with the idea of a shopping list by aisle. It is the best way to go!

  • I don’t have an aisle-by-aisle list but I do have a five page list of EVERYTHING I would ever purchased for groceries for our house. Some think this extravagant. I hardly ever forget anything though. Glad to check out this new website.

  • Ok, I was glad to see at least one commenter was like me. I make a list but it isn’t in any particular order. Even when I try to group items I still forget something until the end of making my list and then it is out of place anyway. I also almost always end up repeating an aisle or going to the other side of the store yet again because I missed something on my list. It makes me crazy to be as organized as you were talking about. I almost started to hyperventilate at the thought! They are starting to re-organize my Walmart too and I hate it. The ones that are organized the standard Walmart way make it hard to find things. It is like at some point they run out of room to put something so they stick it wherever, and where they put it doesn’t make sense. Drives me nuts. I prefer Publix anyway. We thought we were going to have to move to Louisiana and they don’t have Publix there. I have a friend that lives in the town we were going to move to and she has lived there 20 years and for 20 years has been bugging Publix to put a store there. No luck so far. We ended up not moving and I was grateful. I don’t know what I would do without Publix! I don’t buy my meat anywhere else as I always end up disappointed. Produce is generally better at Publix but Aldi has some great deals sometimes.

  • My husband and I share shopping duties. We make a list but it is by no means organized. I keep thinking we should do that but it would have to be one we can both use and I’m not sure that is possible.
    I’m with you on the Wal*Mart thing. Ours reorganized a couple of years ago and it was a horrible six months. My parents are going through the same thing now and are having a hard time adjusting. I’m still learning where everything is.

  • I’m a list person. Otherwise I would get home and be reduced to making a meal out of PopTarts, diet cokes, and Fiddle Faddle. Not that there’s anything wrong with that every now and then.

  • AH. I rarely enter my local SuperWalmart without my aisle-by-aisle shopping list excel spreadsheet. My list is actually a master list of all the items that we use, sorted by aisle. When it’s time for my bi-weekly shopping trip, I whip out the highlighter and mark up all the things that I need to procure. Also included are boxes for quantity and the price of each item so i know before going in the approximate total of my shopping excursion.

    If I don’t have this list with me, i end up buying 40 different kinds of snacks and drinks with no ‘fixins’ for meals.

    You are my kind of people 🙂

  • All Wal-marts have undergone a remodel. BE FORWARNED – their stock has diminished. The selection in the grocery dept. has dwindled a lot. (and, ours just took out the Icee Machine in the in- store McDonalds) So I have to hit a real grocery store more often now. Just a headsup for ya.

  • I make a weekly meal plan from which I make my weekly grocery list. The list is divided up in categories such as produce, frozen, dairy, blah, blah, blah but it is only one sheet. I also have it divided a bit by store since I shop at Trader Joes but usually have to pick up something at Sam’s or Meijers that can’t be found at Traders.

    And now I’ll be adding B. Lloyd’s Sweet and Salty pecans to my list because someone may have just polished off the remainder of the container. Shoot. me.

  • List! And I head to Wal*Mart and Sams Club in the same trip. Every Tuesday without fail – I shop. I make my menu for the week, make my list and try to accomplish both Sams and Walmart in under 2 hours.

    I am totally checking out the links…sounds good.

    And sorry about no Starbucks. When my husband and I talk about retirement, we’ve used proximity to Starbucks as a criteria. It’s only about 25 years away..never too soon to plan!

  • ZipList is cool. I have not heard of it.

    Your hubby is even cooler for getting you a layout of the store! That is like SO SWEET!

    I never go commando. I am always armed and dangerous with a list. At the beginning of the month when I do my big grocery shopping trip it is a master grocery list.

  • Unfortunately, our wal mart and target are of the variety of very little food and for sure no produce, so I have to shop at “regular” grocery stores.
    I cannot get my act together enough to organize by separate aisles, but I do manage 4 columns–produce, center of store, frozen/refrigerated, and drugstore. Most stores are set up this way, so it does not matter which one I end up at.

  • DeeDee, You are my people. I am 1/2 crazy, I love a list, and months ago when our local Wal-Mart got all shook up, I had the same thoughts you did. I have to admit though, the new bright blue used in the new store was enough to make my OCD smile. =)

  • Dear friend, I take a list. I make it, read the ads, and take it with my coupons.
    However, I must say, that you have a higher level of crazy than me. The aisle thing is really a Master’s Level of Organization that I myself feel I will never be prepared to complete. I drop my hat to you! Wow. Now that is an organized family!

  • Ziplist…hmmm, sounds like a nice add-on for my brain.

  • Another lister here. I do mine by general category, not isle by isle, but it gets the job done. I have 3 shopping choices-WalMart, 40 minute drive, or family store with bad produce and high prices, so guess where I go? My hubs is my grocery store hero, and will pick up anything I need, even calling me before he leaves work to see what I need!

  • I use the Donna Young website for both my weekly menu and grocery list planner. Can’t stand to grocery shop at Walmart though. I use the local grocery and Sams Club instead.

  • When I worked for Wal-Mart we regularly changed things around, sometimes little things, sometimes big things, because it makes you have to LOOK for what you’re wanting. While you’re looking, you might see something else and realize, ‘Hey, I need that, too’. Other stores do it, too. It’s just a good business model really, but man I hate it. I’m a list person and I like listing by aisles, too.

  • OH! This sounds just like me. I’m not alone! I am SO going right this very minute to check out that link…

  • Well thanks to your brilliance, I have a list that is aisle by aisle. It has saved us so much time. My husband thinks you are a super hero as he wasn’t sure there were women out there that could do this. Clearly I don’t fall into those ranks but I know how to, um, borrow good ideas. 🙂

  • They took away our fabric department, too! Although I don’t shop in Wal*Mart but once every year (the nearest one is CRAZY busy and you have to park in Saskatchewan). Anyway, thanks so much for the links! They were seriously what this unorganized, frazzled woman needed on a shopping day.