From: Darren D. MacDonald, thenorthbaybay.ca staff
NORTH BAY – Walmart has come to mean a lot to different people.
To some it’s a place to pick up food, to others it’s a chance for underemployment. But for years Walmart has been a place to unexpectedly reunite with others. In an effort to capitalize on this, Walmart #3063 (North Bay) is piloting a “Reunion Section” for its store.
The idea originally came from store manager Jeff, trying to solve an issue that plagues every Walmart: aisle traffic.
“You always have people stopping in the aisles for different reasons. There’s leaving your cart in the middle of the aisle to read every word on the back of a box. There’s walking slowly in the center while checking your phone. But the biggest one of all is people unexpectedly reuniting for the first time in years.
Jim says that it happens every day at Walmart. So his solution to the problem is to use the recently cleared jewelry section for customers to go spend some time together and “not hog an aisle for 40+ minutes.”
“It will be called ‘Reunite Where the Recently Cleared Jewelry Section Used to Be’,” explains Jeff. “The idea is simple: let’s say you are shopping in our store and you see an old friend you have not bothered to keep up with in ages, but feel the need to discuss everything except why you could not be bothered to keep up. So what do you do? Well, you go on over to our ‘Reunite Where the Recently Cleared Jewelry Section Used to Be’ kiosk and they let you into a safe and controlled area where you can stand and talk. It’s that simple!”
“People standing in the aisles is the absolute worst,” says Walmart employee June McDonell. “Seems like every time I have new product to put out, there’s a family having a 20 year reunion right where I need to work.”
“I think they won’t be too long, but next thing I know, there’s a picnic table and grandpa is grilling hamburgers for the youngins.’ Lord forbid you try to say ‘excuse me’ and do your job. They look at you like you murdered a child.”
Jeff has completed trial runs with friends, but has had with minimal success. However, Jeff is determined to keep on.
“If this goes well, then we might see the program spread to other Walmarts! But, the higher ups will most definitely take credit for all the work I put in. That is just the way it goes here.”
Meanwhile, across the parking lot, Independent Grocers is conducting its own trial run, in which people caught reuniting with family and friends in the aisles are shot on sight. So far the policy is receiving positive feedback.