Wal-Mart....you either love it, or you hate it, right? I've always been pretty much ambivalent. We don't have a Wal-Mart close by. We'd have to drive at least 1 1/2 hours to get to one, so I'm not a regular Wal-Mart shopper by any means. Once a year I go grocery shopping at the Wal-Mart in Houston, TX for breakfast items for the condo while at Quilt Market. It's just a few blocks away.
As an aside: we saw the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile parked there once about 11:30 pm! I also know that some people wouldn't step into a Wal-Mart ever...noway, no how, no time, not ever and ever amen! But then I know others who complain but still go once in awhile. And many people are quite grateful they can find affordable goods. I'm not here to judge in any way. Just to share a few observations.
While we were on our holiday trip to and from Yellowstone National Park we spent several nights in Wal-Mart parking lots. Mr. Scottie Dog had heard that they might let you park your RV in the lot overnight so he checked the Wal-Mart website and found that most stores will allow you to stay but it was best to check with the store manager. Off we went on our trip. The first night we planned to stay in Reno, NV but ended up with a several hour layover in Sacramento and on the way to Reno it was getting late. We stopped for gas in a tiny truck stop in Dutch Flatt, CA and spent the night parked next to a few 18-wheelers.
Next night: Elko, NV. The Wal-Mart is on a hill above the city and we parked with a beautiful view of the mountains.
Night three: Twin Falls, ID. This SuperWal-Mart had a grocery store where we bought our food for our Yellowstone stay. Much of the produce was from local growers. There was a family of deer around the trailer in the early hours.
Each store had plenty of parking and we encountered at least 10 other RV's each night. Everything from mega motor homes to teardrop trailers to fancy horse trailers (one set up held 8 horses and also contained an air conditioned plush RV area for humans.
It was on the way home that we encountered two Wal-Marts that were different from the rest. Riverton, Wyoming and Tooele, Utah both had Wal-Mart SuperCenters. Both were small towns...Tooele hardly a village. I often hear about Wal-Marts coming into towns and forcing the local businesses to close. Well, in these two towns there weren't any businesses to close down. Local residents had to drive 35-50 miles for groceries, diapers and more. From what I understand there wasn't even a gas station in Tooele before Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart came in, built their stores, brought jobs to the locals where there had been no jobs. THEN more businesses came in...gas stations, restaurants, hardware stores, a gym....these towns didn't die because of Wal-Mart, they thrived and grew! You and I know that a job at Wal-Mart isn't the best...but it IS a job. We saw new housing going up. Just gave me cause to think.
When we were on our last night, it was quite late when we pulled into Reno. Doreen (our GPS) told us where to turn and how to go to the Wal-Mart. Mr. Scottie Dog had done such a great job of doing all the driving on our trip...I'm so glad I didn't have to contend with pulling our big trailer along. We found the Wal-Mart parking lot and since it was so late (and Mr. Dog was so tired) we didn't ask first to park as there were already several trailers & motor homes parked. We closed up the car and made ready for bed. I already had my teeth brushed and nightgown on when there was flashing lights outside the trailer and someone was banging on the door. Dressed in his bedtime sweats, Mr. Scottie Dog wearily answered the door. It was the parking lot security man and he wanted to know if we were staying over night. "Is it permissible?" Mr. Dog asked? "Certainly." was the answer, "Just move your rig over there to avoid late night speeders." Whew! We'd found our place for the night.
Each night we saved between $$20-$50 from staying elsewhere. In Riverton we had hoped to stay in a campground. But every space was taken as well as the two RV parks in the area, full up. So we didn't deprive any local businesses. I am thankful Wal-Mart allowed us to stay in a safe place each night. They certainly didn't have to do so. Knowing that security was on the job and cameras were there keeping watch, it was easy for us to sleep well. We did spend some $$ in each store and contributed to the local economy.
That's my story.
PS--I've heard that K-Mart sometimes allows RVs to spend the night and I'm sure there are other stores and shopping centers that allow it also. Nice.