Here is a picture of the new Meijer store that opened not far from my house. For years my lady and I shopped at Walmart. Mostly because we are DJs and it is open 24 hours a day, has very reasonable prices and a pretty good selection.
So then Meijer opens up. They are closer to home, also have a wide selection and are open 24 hours for our convenience. Although their prices are slightly higher, I prefer to shop there. Why? Is it because it is closer to my house? That’s convenient, but not the reason. Is it because it has a Starbucks inside? Fun, but again not the reason.
These stores, although seem similar, have one major difference. This point was driven home to me today in my recent shipping trip when I returned to Walmart for something.
When you enter the Meijer store, like Walmart there is a greeter. At Meijer they greet you and ask if you would enjoy a copy of the latest sales flyer. Every employee you run into says “hello” and a few even ask if you need help finding something.
When we used to shop at Walmart the customer service there was so poor that is became the subject of many jokes. Cashiers not only skip any greeting or conversation, but quite often any eye contact as well. Employees can be found huddled around the front door smoking and using language that would make a sailor blush. On my most recent trip I saw roughly 20 employees. Cashiers, people stocking and even a ‘greeter’ at least in title, not actual action. None of the employees spoke a word to me and only one out of the entire group managed a smile.
Now I am not putting down employees of Walmart in general, or even the ones at this store. What I am questioning is what certain corporations make a priority. Perhaps the powers that be at Walmart assume people will go there whether their people are friendly or not as long as the prices are low. Which could probably be true in several cases. Maybe they don’t focus enough on the well-being of their employees to keep them smiling? Whatever the answer may be, today was a stark reminder as to why I will continue to spend my hard earned dollars (even if it happens to end up to be a few more) at Meijer. Dignity, happiness and respect are free, but to me they are more valuable than any roll back at the store founded by Sam Walton.