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April 17, 2009


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I was at KMart last weekend. They have a very good lawn and garden section this time of year. I just moved to a new house last fall and am starting over in the yard. I got a good deal on asparagus roots ($5 for 6, I bought 12) and lots of spring bulbs and seeds. They have a nice selection on those things, and the Martha Stewart collection of decorative yard stuff (fencing, pots, lawn furniture, ornaments etc.) is as good or better quality than the local garden centers at a better price.

I also was in Kohl's last week and spent $110 on undershirts, white running socks, dark dress socks, a new pair of Levi jeans ($32), a new pair of dress pants ($27) a summer shirt ($20). I agree they can be hit or miss but they always have sales and are a good place for those things listed above. Plus, earlier this year I got a good deal on an Addidas matching jacket and pants for daughter's birthday ($69). The zipper broke on the jacket and Kohl's exchanged it with no hassles.

Buy your running shoes at a specialty store where they can fit you properly, or at the very least on line from a reputable supplier that has a good, money back guarantee. Department stores are the last place to go for running shoes if you're a serious runner.

We aren't a big enough town for Costco (or Trader Joes), but maybe they'll get to us some day.

Count me in the group that doesn't shop at WalMart. A guy has to have some standards.

We live in the upper Midwest.

Sears is the best for lrg appliances and tools (and I never had any problem with delivery etc). Their kids' clothes would be cheap, but they rarely restock them so don't expect to ever find your kids' sizes in shoes or underwear. I think they re-order clothing only about every 4 months or so. I've given up wasting my time going to the store and & just order my kids' clothing online.

Kohl's here is worthless---only junk no better than at Target but at twice the price for some idiotic reason. Their women's clothing is also at least a year out of date in terms of style.

The WalMart Foodcenter here is a mega-depressing, dingy disaster to visit, crowded with families where neither the adults nor their typically 5 screaming kids seem to have all their teeth. Lack of regular restocking means that if you go there to buy things on sale you will have to be satisfied with a rain check. Their kids' toys department is good, though, except for the bikes which fall apart. KMart is actually worse--don't go there unless you want to get mugged! KMart also sold me baby formula *1 year* past the sell-by date--so I never set foot again.

The SuperTarget has always been popular with their attractive, clean store and attractive and cheap home deco and clothing. But the food choices available are limited and the produce could be a bit fresher. They also have limited their restocking lately to the point where you shouldn't bother going there on a Sunday night because they'll be completely out of the most popular (cheap) brands of staples like apples, lettuce, bread, chicken breasts, hamburger, toilet paper etc etc. You're better off going to the local HyVee grocery which has competitive prices and a much larger and fresher selection, especially if you keep track of their sales.

No Costco or Trader Joe's unfortunately, only Sam's club. In addition to the usual cheap electronics & office supplies that are helpful if that's what you need, Sam's here specializes in selling food that is 1) packaged in enormous quantities (you have to buy 5 cantelopes, a dozen tomatoes, or 4 gallons or milk at a time!) and is 2) sold near or even past the sell-by date (the produce is on it's last legs, the meat and milk are sold at their expiration date, and even the canned goods are often near or even after their expiration dates: cold cereal and chips (all stale), salsa, and olive oil (rancid)). So buying food at Sam's is useless unless perhaps you have 4 teenagers at home who will eat every in 1-2 days.

The Target rating is a surprise. Their return policies are punitive and out of step with everybody else I've dealt with on the list. Best I can figure, they're fighting their shoplifting problem even if honest customers with returns become collateral damage.

Whatever trendiness and store design they may have doesn't compensate to my mind.

LOVE Costco. We work the deals and love the free food. It also helps that they have a good reputation on how they treat their employees and act as a business.

Rarely go to a Khols, while they have good deals if you look the few times I have been to sales there were bait and switch and dealing with the staff was not a good experience. Maybe it is just local. We go to Target instead.

We spend a lot of time at Costco. The only reason we've considered Sam's as well as because my wife prefers Pampers diapers and our first baby is on the way in a month or so. Sam's sells Pampers and Costco doesn't. Still, with some of the web sites that I've seen pricing (versus what Sam's does), I'm not convinced it's worth the cost of the membership.

I also like Kohl's a lot for sales, especially when you get some of their 15-30% off coupons that seem to arrive every week. If you're flexible on what items you want, you can get some great deals.

Target's prices aren't that great from what I've seen compared to what you can find elsewhere.

Same thoughts as you on KMart and Walmart.

Most 'Big' retailers have pros and cons, what matters is which one is nearby and give more deals, many times I found better deals at 'Big Lots' for same brands

I have the exact opposite feeling about Costco. I find them slightly higher priced than Sam's Club and much higher priced then BJ's Wholesale Club. Getting to a cashier on weekends is a nightmare. I've actually seen fights break out because there is not enough room for the lines and not enough personnel to direct traffic so people tend to form their own lines and when two lines converge at the same cashier all hell breaks loose.


Do you live in Chicago? That sounds like a Chicago thing....Or maybe Detroit?

I forgot to mention, after getting what I thought was good value at Kohl's last weekend, they gave me a $20 Kohl's Cash coupon. It's good until next Tuesday. I'm going back to get a new belt, unless my oldest daughter grabs the coupon off the kitchen counter this weekend.

Judging from the comments and article, I'm lucky to live near an uncrowded (except at peak hours, of course), clean Walmart full of helpful, friendly associates. The only time I've ever disliked it is a few of the Saturday nights on which we've done our weekly grocery shopping, but then, all large stores are creepy and depressing with the lights dimmed, the aisles almost empty, and the midnight crew trying to see through their drooping eyelids far enough to restock the shelves.

On Valentine's Day, though, we got a taste of the toothless hicks (this is Arkansas, yet they're rarer than your stereotypes would have you believe). Just as we passed the freezer section, a brawl started up between the ice cream and frozen dinners. A woman was screaming her head off at some kid and it got ugly. Within five seconds, there were a few dozen people gathered around to gape.

I didn't, but walked over to an associate (also gaping) and asked if she was going to 'get the hose', meaning break it up. She must have thought I was joking (I wasn't . . . mostly), and said 'it's been slow today, so it's good to get some entertainment.' That bugged the heck out of me, and I got out of the area and waited for the shouting to stop (violence disturbs my Southern Belle sensibilities, and the callous associate had pissed me off).

Other than that, it's a pretty clean and well-run place. I get the feeling Walmart is running a self-gentrifying process to make their stores nicer. I hope it raises their reputation from that of a food trough for the poor and stupid to run to whenever they need a haircut and some tires.

Don't get me started on Walmart. My family and I don't shop there at all. I haven't set foot in it for more than 5 years, ever since I learned about their unethical business practices and treating their employees like dirt. Plus, everyone in our town shops there so it's usually crowded (per my friends who shop there since we've only been here less than 2 years and I haven't ever gone to this Walmart).

We also avoid Sears because of poor customer service, dingy appearance, and average to subpar merchandise. I agree with you about Kmart.

I wish we had a Costco. I saw their CEO being profiled on a documentary program and he doesn't get overpaid like all the other CEO's. They seem to operate under sound principles.

We do like shopping at Target and Khol's.

I also do not shop at Wal-Mart out of principle. I can not in good conscious shop at a store that tries to keep their employees hours under 30 so they do not have to provide benefits for them or their families. They cover less than half of their employees for health insurance.

In 2001 the average Sales Associate (the most common job) made $13,861. The 2001 poverty line for a family of three was $14,630. I am willing to pay more to company that treats their workers fairly. Wal-Mart can cover the cost of a dollar an hour wage increase by raising prices a half penny per dollar. For instance, a $2.00 pair of socks would then cost $2.01. This minimal increase would annually add up to $1,800 for each employee.

Don't even get me started Wal-Mart and China.

I listed to a podcast from Slate last year that gave some great information on Costo's employee practices. I will try to find it. I went to Costco when I lived in California and luckily I now have one here in Ohio. Hopefully you won't have to wait to long, Linda!

I try to shop at places that I morally support over what has the bottom line cheapest price. Normally, the cost for that cheap price is hidden someplace besides your bill.

JC Penney has some pretty good deals when you can stack clearance merchandise with an additional percentage off AND a coupon.

Kohl's is okay, but their clothing is hit and miss in sizing.

I can't buy women's shoes at any of these places, so they are all a rip to me. I am forced to shop at Nordstrom/Nordstrom Rack because NO ONE carries shoes for tall women.

Love Costco.

I can't believe K-Mart landed near the top of any these rankings. Modern K-Mart is gross and terrifying, and I say that as someone whose family shopped there all the time when she was a kid.

I couldn't help but notice that the majority of these stores are discount retailers. Maybe, ah, their target demographic isn't terribly sophisticated or demanding?

I've never, ever had a problem returning things to Target.

You can return anything for whatever reason within 90 days as long as you have a receipt, or they'll even take it if you don't have a receipt and you bought it on a credit card that so they can look up your receipt.

What are the complaints about?

If you want to return things after 3 months, or without a receipt or card look up, I think that's asking too much.

We're nearly 100% Costco and Target when it comes to shopping (although my wife got some great baby clothes at a Kohls a few months ago).

I think location must have a lot to do with this preferences. The Target near us is awesome -- great selection, great prices, clean, helpful staff, etc. There's both a Walmart and Kmart within a mile of the Target and they're two of the most nasty, dingy stores I've ever been in. I've been to each exactly once and have no plans to return.

As for Target's return policy, I've never had a problem returning something without a receipt. My guess is they keep the policy in place so that they can turn away repeat offenders.

I don't set foot in my local Wal-Mart because it is full of illegal aliens. I speak English.

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