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And a Merry Christmas to You Too Sam Walton

I just got back from my annual Christmas quest to Sam’s, and not surprising, it was an experience. My Christmas shopping is pretty much done, but I can’t beat the price they have on Caribou K-Cups, even with my Keurig Club discounts. So I took the 10 minute drive to pickup some coffee for my sister (and a box for me) and take a quick browse of the store, just in case something popped out at me. The place was packed, and additionally hampered by more than usual end aisle and in aisle displays, making cart navigation difficult, with shoppers going the wrong way on one way streets. I combat that by parking my cart and taking strolls. Being a guy, I don’t have a handbag, or kids, or anything else of value in the cart. And that way I don’t have to learn how to say “excuse me” in a dozen different languages.

As I strolled briskly through the store I saw a lot of merchandise brought in just for the Holidays. You know, that kind of stuff that you hope no one spends good money to buy “you” this year. Like special glassware by Swovorsky (see what I did there) at 50% the normal cost. And all those cookies and gift baskets and gadgets and blister packed plastic utensils, and more, and more, and more. Or the new Keurig 2.0 K355 Brewer (the Keurig website calls it a K350, and Staples calls it a K300-wonder what’s different). Lots of the stuff we would work on in the contract pack industry every October and November. As I walked around I couldn’t help but hear well meaning people trying to talk themselves, or their spouse, into justifying the purchase. And then plop, into the cart it goes.

Anyway, after about 15 minutes I had my fill of Sam’s and headed for the registers. Anybody who knows me, knows that getting in line behind me means your going to have a long wait. No, not because I am a pain in the ass (I am always ready to go and can pack my crap twice as fast as any kid can). Because the person in front of me will undoubtedly be a pain in the ass. In this case it was two people in front of me, almost fully checked out when I got in line. You know the type, with one of those scooter cart things, and another friend with a cart checking out together. And some issue with one item. Yeah, that’s how I spent my Sunday afternoon. About 20 minutes of it in that line. When this happens, and it happen often, very often, I refuse to move to another line, although I will suggest to the people behind me that they consider offers. No, I will just stand there quietly for as long as it takes to give the retailer my hard earned money. Damn, how I love Amazon.

Back on point. So while I’m standing there, I am hearing this, rather distasteful music (to me anyway) blasting in my ears. I take a quick look around and find the source. Some kind of PA radio thing that’s been plugged in and is pointing right at me. Now I don’t have any idea what Sam’s policy is on playing holiday music in their stores, but this was definitely not holiday music. This was barely music. Definitely did not put me in a festive mood, or make me want to jump out of line and spend more money on needless stuff. I did consider taking my pocket knife out and cutting the cord, but didn’t want to make a scene. Being 11 days before Christmas I figure a Manager, or at least an Assistant Manager, would have been walking the floor. Bet they will take in more than $250k today. That should be a good enough reason. How about some cheery Holiday tunes Sam while your patrons overextend their credit limits while lining your pockets, and creating more trade imbalance with China. Oh, my apologies for the video below. I planned on saving it as an MP3 when I got home, but after watching it and seeing the Sam’s branding I decided to go with it unedited.

A co-worker, whose daughter works at a local Panera Bread, told me that the store stopped playing holiday music after a few patrons complained. Now understand, I am far from being religious (don’t even want to go there), but I do enjoy the festive holiday season. Especially to see the twinkle in children’s eyes that the holidays bring. That’s why I do what I do each year to the house. Not for the neighbors. For the kids who may drive by so their eyes can light up as bright as my palm trees. Like most everyone I don’t want to hear a single holiday note after 12:01AM on December 26th (until next November, not September). But until then, let those damn sleigh bells ring.

Your customers are making you a boatload of cash this holiday season Sam. Tell the vocal minority to screw off (in the true holiday spirit of course) and play those tunes. Not the crap that I had to endure today.