Today the girls and I ventured out with Mr. Shi to Walmart. There is one about fifteen minutes from our house, and I was hoping that I would find some American brands/imports from the US. Some of the things on my list were: Tom’s children’s toothpaste, Quaker rice cakes, Kind bars, Almond Milk of any brand, tahini, sesame seeds. One of the first things that caught my eye as we walked in was a noodle bar serving hot noodles. Then we came to a huge candy department, which appeared to be mostly Asian candy, although there were some Hershey Kisses there. We didn’t buy any, since we don’t usually buy much candy at home. Then we looked through some aisles of imported goods, where you would find cereal and mustard in the same aisle. There did not seem to be much sense of order at all. A friend back home asked me if you could find American foods, and to answer her question, I think you can, but it is quite a scavenger hunt, going to multiple grocery stores to find different things. Spices are hard to find. You can find seventy varieties of soy sauce in any store.
Next up, we walked though the bread department, where you could find sliced bread as well as French baguettes as well as pastries and Asian delicacies. Then there was a large tea department, where you could bag your own loose leaf tea and vacuum pack it. There was a stand with dried fish and meat. How would you eat a dried fish with the skin, I wonder?
We also saw meat behind the deli counter, packaged meat, and meat simply open in a glass refrigerator with tongs for self serving. No lid on this glass compartment–no food standards here! We didn’t see any organic vegetables in Walmart. There was a huge selection of mushrooms. You could also buy rice and salt and some herbs in a bulk department. I didn’t see sesame seeds. When you buy vegetables in the store, you take it to an attendant to weigh and price it. In Walmart, there was one such weigh station, and the customers have no concept of a line. I was forced to push myself around people and plunk my lettuce on the attendant’s scale. There is no sense of common courtesy or any attention to order at all.
So overall, I was pretty frustrated by this trip. I didn’t find any of the imported US items I was looking for. Even in the beauty department, I didn’t recognize many brands and if I did see a brand I knew (such as colgate) it was made in China, and who knows what the quality would be. Most of you know I don’t shop Walmart in the US, and I really don’t see much reason to shop Walmart in Beijing. Sam Walton’s original goal of selling American made goods is gone.