A Visit to Chinese Walmart
Between the old Bluebird days and my recent reselling efforts, I have spent more time than I would like to admit over the past few years in Walmart stores. Whether I like it or not, Walmart is part of my life despite my overall lack of admiration for the company, its stores and many of its customers.
I’ll leave my Walmart gripes for another day, but given that many of you are in a similar position (meaning you spend time in Walmarts) I thought it would be fun to show you what Walmart looks like in China. I made my first Chinese Walmart visit back in 2008, but on this recent trip I made my triumphant return since the store was close to my hotel and my friend wanted to get the Chinese Walmart experience. 😉
We headed out from the Grand Hyatt Shenzhen to find the Walmart. We had seen the sign from our hotel room, but finding the store was a bit more complicated. The store was on the 3rd floor of a building and had several entrances which were closed off. Just as we thought that perhaps the store was closed, we found an open entrance on the far side of the building.
Chinese Walmart is a lot like Walmart in the United States. The store sells a ton of household items plus has a full grocery component. Instead of Walmart’s trademark blue color scheme, most everything in Chinese Walmart is red. There is still some blue though since aisle descriptor signs carry that color.
The fun part of going into a grocery store in any foreign country is seeing how it differs from the stores at home. If you have never been in a Chinese grocery store, then it can be fun to poke around. One noticeable difference is the amount of “live food” available. In this particular store there were dozens of types of live fish along with eels, frogs, crabs, turtles and more.
A visit to a grocery store isn’t complete without a look at the snack offerings. Potato chip companies love to spice up their offerings to cater to local palates and it is no different in China. My friend and I bought some Hot Pot flavored Lay’s potato chips that were spicy and delicious.
Of course potato chips are the safe choice. There are a ton of local items to choose from, many of which are mysteries to me. What isn’t a mystery is a snack that I see people eating all of the time here. For some reason packaged chicken feet don’t appeal to me at all. I have had chicken feet in restaurants and they taste alright, but the packaged varieties look nasty to me. Am I wrong? Has anyone tried them?
From 112 proof grain alcohol to Tsing Tao and other beers, the Chinese Walmart liquor department is quite large. I didn’t snap too many pictures, but I thought it was funny that we found what apparently looks like Chinese knockoff PBR right next to the real thing. We don’t hate ourselves so we decided to pass on trying them.
Finally, what is a visit to Walmart without a look at their co-branded credit card offer? While sometimes Walmart in the United States will offer a free two liter bottle of soda or other “valuable gift” for signing up, unfortunately Chinese Walmart doesn’t seem to give anything. Bank of Communications needs to step it up.
With so much red and interesting differences to see, our quick visit to Chinese Walmart was worth the effort. Yes, many Asian supermarkets in the U.S. have similar items to what can be found at Chinese Walmart, but it was still fun. Thankfully too our Chinese Walmart visit came without the normal “People of Walmart”. Just normal Chinese folks doing their shopping!