My Trip to Walmart

December 18, 2007 Posted by Tyler Cruz
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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:

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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!

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Posted: December 18th, 2007 under Personal  

24 Responses to “My Trip to Walmart”

  1. Would love to play Risk with you. I’m good at it — despite not touching it for over 2 years. Haha

  2. Tyler Cruz says:

    Forgot about A&W, but they aren’t open 24/7.

  3. Mark Walsh says:

    Yeah, a big store over here tested out the 24/7 thing for Christmas last year, and have been 24/7 ever since. I too love late night trips, so this has been a godsend. And yeah, they always do all the crappy jobs at night time and the place is a total mess.
    Nice post, a personal post is definitely needed every once in a while. :)

  4. [...] Check This Out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today. Here’s a quick excerpt: 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 … [...]

  5. Andreas says:

    Dude, aren’t you becoming sick from only being awake at night? :o)

  6. Mubin says:

    You guys have it good there, here in the UK most shops close at 5. Though McDonalds and stuff is open till 10. I remember being in University and pulling all nighters during finals and mids and falling asleep after the test and waking up at 6-7 at night. I had to boil ice from the freezer and eat peas that were embedded in the ice. (exaggeration but you get where Im coming from?)

  7. tke71709 says:

    Risk is so old school.

    For a better game (and shorter) pick up a copy of Risk 2210.

    You haven’t lived until you’ve conquered the moon ;)

  8. paulette says:

    Nice game. I enjoy playing it too. Risk is the very most reason what makes you play it.

  9. Tim says:

    Hahaha Hilarious post!

    Nothing like a good game of risk. By the way, if you like starcraft, check out Warcraft 3, it has a custom map that is like a mix of Poker and Tower Defence. Very fun!

  10. serge says:

    I reviewed your site, check it out…
    Wal-marts that are open 24/7 are all over the place here in my city. Never been shopping to late though.

  11. Mike Huang says:

    If you want to continue blogging, I highly suggest changing those sleep hours lol. It might end up bad…you never know.

    -Mike

  12. When the Super Walmart opened here, it was like a huge deal. Of course with a town of only 11k, anything new is a huge deal. Everyone commented on how wonderful it was to have everything in one place, that there were like 28 checkouts and just about every one of them was open. No waiting in line forever.

    A week later, less than half the lanes were open, and even though they said in the paper that they were going to have a lot more lanes open for the holidays, we have yet to see more than 6 regular and 3 or 4 fast lanes open.

    Sorry, just had to vent, no much patience here lol

    Ron Killian

  13. Actually, in Risk the defending player has the advantage. If a defending player rolls two sixes and the offensive player rolls two sixes as well the defending player will kill two of the offensive players units.

    I love Risk too by the way, but it is a terribly long game. I find it funny that the first time you had ever played it before though was through a Starcraft custom game though lol.

    Did you ever get into Warcraft 3 and their custom games at all? i.e. DotA and Tower Defense?

  14. Tyler Cruz says:

    Regarding all the Warcraft 3 comments, I played the game and expansion years ago, but only played it once or twice online… for me, it doesn’t even compare to Starcraft.

    Which… by the way, any commentor here has been able to beat me at ;)

  15. Daniel says:

    Risk is hardcore. :p

  16. Oh man your sleeping routine is horrible :)

  17. DotDriven says:

    Yeah Risk is fun. Especially with a group of competitive guys that can have fun without taking it too serious lol.

    Our wal-mart here opened up to 24hrs and I was ecstatic. I LOVE going there at 3am and just browsing around without having to deal with super crowded isle. I always worry that maybe they aren’t doing enough business to justify staying open so I end up wanting to spend more just to try to help show them it’s good business lol.

    I haven’t played starcraft in years but it is still one of my all time favorites. Blows warcraft away and I was really happy to learn SC2 wasn’t going to adopt some of warcraft3 “upgrades”. Can’t wait for it to come out.

    lol, we should set up some tournament nights where everyone can meet up and play some SC.

  18. Great story! And sounds like we both have a similar strange sleep pattern..count me in for the Risk tourney with Chow!

  19. Jean Costa says:

    Starcraft risk is awesome! The early game, and mid game is good, but the later game can get dull.

    I managed to win one :) But, it took something like 2 hours :(

  20. Every trip i take to walmart leaves me feeling pessimistic about the future of humanity.

  21. r4 says:

    We have a 24/7 Wal-mart her in Ontario and I LOVE going and doing my grocery shopping (or shopping for anything else) right after about 10pm or 11pm. The place is almost empty, but there are still shoppers there – but the checkout lines which usually involve about 10 minutes – 15 minutes wait time during the day, are usually as empty as can be when I go to checkout.

    I also find I don’t have to navigate around the crowd of people. I get everything I need in less than half the normal time if I do it during the day.

PeerFly

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