I had an interesting discussion last night about a recent discussion on Facebook regarding Wal-Mart. This group of mom's with are done with the Wal-Mart experience. I've been saying this for years but I am not the primary grocery shopper. This task was taken away from my list of to-do's and there is one who would even suggest that this was a calculated and strategic move. Thinking back to my own experience several years ago while shopping with my wife we thought we would make an effort to save some money by shopping cheap. The whole experience at this particular location was dreadful.We arrived relatively late evening but not so late there were drunks or anything, just a small group of shoppers and a bare parking lot.We began walking the aisles looking for the things we needed. What I did not expect was open boxes of food. It seriously looked as if people had just started walking the around as though the store was their personal pantry. This really turned me off but the kicker came as we looked for someone to ring up our sale. Hanging out on the the top of US Weekly or the International World News were some steaks. No idea how long it had been sitting there but it did beg the question, "I wonder where that is going to end up when they find it." The next thing I noticed was the wall of shopping baskets against the back wall loaded with stock to be returned to the shelves. Add all of this to the cold hospital like feel and I was done with Wal-Mart. I have never been back to this Wal-Mart in the years since this visit. My wife continued to use Wal-Mart choosing lower prices at the sake of the experience. In fairness the store that she normally visits is not bad since it is relatively small, at least by Wal-Mart standards. The experience is the same and while she has no photographic evidence on http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/ she has seen a few gems while shopping. But recently she was given a refreshing take on grocery shopping at Tom Thumb. They have really made a significant change at the store near us. You can't walk in there without someone asking if you need help finding something. The music is fun and upbeat causing my wife to comment, "I'm so going to get busted for dancing in there one of these days." There are several factors that make shopping there more inviting, the lighting is less intense, a florist at the entrance, a deli with seating area, a bakery and knowledgeable employees that "get food". Back to the Facebook discussion the other women on this thread were all lamenting the same miserable, cold, sterile shopping experience at Wal-Mart while excitedly sharing their local favorite that provided a better experience. The competition for a better experience is getting tough in our area. We have Whole Foods, Central Market, Market Street, Tom Thumb, Sprouts and Newflower. Perhaps these women have hit a threshold where service and experience is worth a premium, "I'd rather pay a little more just so I don't have to deal with the craziness of Wal-Mart."