CONSUMER INSANITY

How Big Box Stores Fuel the Myth of Home Ownership

America: We Have The Stuff.

Bev Potter
4 min readJul 15, 2023

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I remember when I used to roll up on Sam’s Club like, “Get out the way, fool!”, a Ludacris bass line throbbing in my head as the doors whooshed open to receive my greatness and I flashed my card like Bianca Jagger swanning into Studio 54.

I never made eye contact with the poor schlub checking IDs. I didn’t need to. I belonged there. I was a member. I was a Friend of Sam.

Now, I had only the vaguest idea as to who Sam actually was. I knew he owned Walmart, and I assumed all the stuff at Sam’s Club was somehow cast-offs and overruns that nobody wanted from Walmart.

You know. Like how all the stuff at Aldi fell off a truck at the Port of New Orleans and would probably never, ever, ever pass FDA inspection if FDA inspectors were brave enough to go into an Aldi.

I also knew that Sam’s last name was Walton, although I don’t remember him being on the TV show. I assumed he was John-Boy’s rich cousin.

I also also knew that Sam was from Arkansas, and I’ve since discovered that the Waltons have turned their home town of Bentonville, Arkansas into some kind of “urban utopia”, slash art enclave, slash tax dodge for America’s wealthiest family.

Which is still not enough reason for me to visit Arkansas.

The lure of Sam’s Club and its evil twin, Costco, is economy of scale.

Sure, you could buy a four-pack of toilet paper at your local grocery store and pay $1.25 per roll, or you could join Sam’s Club, fork over a $100 membership fee, buy 1000 rolls of toilet paper and pay only $0.50 per roll.

The math seems obvious. And yet…

And yet, you’d have to spend $5,000 to make back your yearly $100 membership fee.

And the bigger problem (no pun intended) is where to put all that stuff.

I like pink beans. A lot.

So I thought, “Okay, instead of driving all the way to Walmart on the other side of town, I’ll order some from Amazon. They’ll…

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Bev Potter

Legal secretary by day, insomniac by night. Ally. BA, MA. Humor, pop culture, and things that make you think. My weekly-ish newsletter is bevpotter.substack.com