A Certain Lack of Focus

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why I hate Walmart

booksOne of the first space issues Matt and I ran into when we first moved in together was our over abundance of books. Together we had six tall particle board bookshelves, two wide pine bookshelves that we built together (Matt did most of it) and two small particle board bookshelves. It wasn't anywhere near enough.

We didn't really want to buy any more crappy particle board shelves, but we decided we'd better suck it up and get some cheap ones. Unfortunately our options were fairly limited. Target carries tall cheap bookshelves for thirty dollars, and we had three of those already. The older ones are a single piece, built as you might expect bookshelves to be built, but the newer ones, and the only kind you can find at Target now, are in two short pieces with pegs to hold the top half to the bottom. It looks horrible. I assume they do it to save on shipping costs, but it really just looks awful. Personally I don't like even the older ones because they're this horrid fake cherry color: the quality of fake wood has deteriorated rapidly, and it wasn't good to begin with. My shelves came from Meijer, apparently there aren't any of those nearby. shelfbreaksIkea has ok looking bookshelves that are probably better quality, but they're still particle board and they're way more expensive. We're not really willing to pay sixty-eighty dollars for particle board furniture.

Which leaves us with Walmart. At Walmart I discovered some bookshelves that were not quite such a sickening color; fake oak is not nearly so offensive as fake cherry for some reason. Like the Target shelves they are in two halves, but unlike Target they don't try (and fail) to hide it. Instead they make it look like they really are two pieces that have been stacked on top of each other, and in my opinion the look is much nicer. The shelves looked slightly wider too, which has to be a good thing, right? So we went with those, for the same price as the Target ones. I know Walmart is famous for forcing it's suppliers to cut corners, but I didn't realize how much difference in quality there could be between particle board.

Our other shelves have shown some wear, a little bowing of the shelves but that's sort of to be expected with particle board. They don't necessarily sit parallel to the ground, but they're more or less straight. I've underlined each shelf in green so you can get an idea where these shelves are bowing. shelvesKeep in mind, the shelf on the left I've had since college, so maybe five years? The other two are Matt's, he's had the one on the right for about two years, and the one in the middle, which seems to be having more bowing issues than the other two, for ages. So these shelves are doing pretty well all things considered.

walmartWe got the Walmart shelves a few months after we moved here. Say September, though that's probably generous. That means tops, they're three and a half months old. Here's the Walmart shelves, with their underlines in teal.

In that short period of time the shelves are visibly bent, and I think the second shelf up on the right is actually resting on the Ikea magazine holders. I don't deny that they're overloaded, but ALL of our bookshelves are overloaded because we still don't have enough space for them. And seriously, three and a half months? I'm impressed, I mean, how exactly do you fuck up particle board? Is it eighty percent glue? Matt and I have always been resistant to buying from Walmart for many reasons, but we caved when we realized we were going to have to settle with crap quality wherever we went. How could we realize that the quality of crap could span so wide?

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