Note: This post has nothing (well a tiny bit) to do with web entrepreneurship, blogging, or the web. I’m allowed to make a personal post here and there, aren’t I?
I’ve been keeping a very odd sleep schedule the past 2-3 weeks. I usually wake up anywhere between 5:30pm and 7:30pm and go to bed around 9:00-10:00am.
This isn’t the most optimal schedule to keep as I never seem to be awake when stores are open; I have cheques that I need to deposit, items that need to picked up, and food that I want to order.
I’m definitely a night owl though. In fact, I love to just drive around at night – not speeding or anything, just to drive around town when nobody else is out. I like the quietness and calm, and how there are only a few other cars sharing the city with you. I find it very soothing and relaxing.
Since I’m always up during late hours, I’ve always hated how there is almost nothing open. I live in a decent sized city, but there are very few options for places to eat. Fast food-wise we only have McDonalds, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s, Subway, Taco Time, KFC, and Quizzno’s. And only McDonalds and Burger King are open 24/7, limiting any meal choices to one of those two places. The only other places open 24/7 here are a couple convenience stores, where I could pick up some really expensive and really bad food.
So, the entrepreneur in me always wondered why a fairly large city (I think we’re the 3rd largest city in BC) doesn’t have more places open 24/7. I mean, sure, 95% of people are asleep, but what about those other 5% of people? Surely a restaurant or diner that was open 24/7, or something other than a small fast food or convenience store, could open and take advantage of this niche of night people? There is no competition out there… I’m SURE night people would give them business.. I know I would.
Anyhow, back to the story at hand. Recently the Walmart here opened it’s doors 24/7, due to the Christmas holidays. I’m not sure if this is just for the Christmas season or not, but it would be awesome if they kept it afterwards. I think they are doing it to partly test if it is worth being open 24/7.
Yesterday, I had just finished a work session and wanted to get out of my condo for a bit, and had a few items I wanted to buy as well. So naturally, I felt it was a good opportunity to check out what Walmart was like at 2:00 in the morning.
The front parking lot (there’s a back one as well) had a few dozen vehicles scattered about, half of which I assume were employees.
The insanely bright glow of Walmart’s sign lit up the night, as can be seen in the photo I took on my Blackberry below:
Once I was inside, it was not much different from shopping during the day. The bright direct lighting and air conditioning made you forget what time it really was, not unlike a casino (which, by the way, closes at 2am here).
There was certainly a lot less shoppers than usual, as you might expect, but there were definitely people shopping. If I had to guess ,I’d estimate that there were around 10% of the normal amount of people.
There was, however, a lot of staff that you don’t normally see.. a lot of people stocking merchandise, janitors, etc. It was quite messy, actually. There were a lot of carts filled with random crap just randomly placed throughout the store, piles of products, and in the kids section where I bought one of my items, I felt like Godzilla as I had to carefully navigate my way through little towers of boxes pilled up.
But the best part about shopping at night, other than simply being able to shop for items you can’t buy from convenience stores, are the checkout lines: there aren’t any! The Walmart here has around 10-12 lanes, and sometimes the lanes have as many as 20-26 people in them (the express checkout anyway). But when I went at 2am, there was only one other person in a lane, so I got to checkout with literally nobody in front of me.
Here’s a photo I took of the emptiness:
The main item I went to Walmart to get was the boardgame Risk. I’ve never played Risk before, but played a version of it for the first time a week or two ago when I was playing Starcraft.
Starcraft comes with a map editor where players can create little mini-games out of the Starcraft universe, and somebody had made a variation of Risk. I hate most Starcraft mini-games (Use Map Settings, they’re called), but really enjoyed playing Risk.
I’ve also heard a lot about the game; I used to play a ton of chess, and I play poker and Starcraft as well, so the elements of strategy, probability, and tactics that Risk obsesses was very alluring to me. I also liked the fact that you can do some diplomacy, AKA negotiating – something I think that more games should implement (Monopoly is 10x more fun when you can trade properties, sell them for an inflated price, etc.).
With all this in mind, I had to buy it. With a slogan of "The Game of Global Domination" how could you not?
Some friends came over tonight and we played it… it took around 3-4 hours to play, which is absolutely crazy. That may be a turnoff for a lot of people, but I actually love boardgames that take a long time. When you invest more time into a game, you invest a lot more effort and hope, which makes playing a lot more fun.
Since it was my first time playing, I made several simple but costly mistakes that I’ve learned from already. I had secured South America and Australia and had concentrated my entire armies there. My friend Shawn had taken control of North America and was making his way into Europe, and we had agreed on a peace treaty on our border near Mexico… although even though we "agreed", we nevertheless kept a big build up army there just as a "precaution"… so it resembled the DMZ. So much for trust, eh?
The other two players were attacking the crap out of each other, and so Shawn and I had for the most part played pretty defensively. My first mistake was making a move into Africa a bit too early, spreading my forces a bit too thin. Later, when I had lost South America, I had started taking control of Eastern Asia, having moved north from Australia. I had a vial opportunity to attack Shawn’s massive army (he had 2.5 continents), but instead opted to defend. That was arguably my biggest mistake; I should have attacked since you have better odds when attacking. Also, I didn’t fully appreciate the value of attacking since you receive territory cards which give you reinforcements.
In the end, I finished third out of fourth; nobody could stand up to Shawn’s massive army since we let him get too strong early on. But I’ll be ready next time!
Hmm.. you know what might be fun? If I went to see John Chow and we played a game of Risk, taking some pictures of the game and giving a report afterwards. I’d like to see how he played!