I've heard that Wal-Mart is pure evil. I've heard that Target donates vast sums of money to Republican politicians. I don't pay much attention to those stories, because I shop primarily at Kmart.
The reason I shop at Kmart is because the West Duluth store is about a mile from my house. Target and Wal-Mart are over seven miles away. I've been to Target many times and Wal-Mart maybe twice. Both of them are much better than Kmart.
I have not traveled the world evaluating department stores, and I don't want to exaggerate, but I can't help from stating this as plainly as I can: The West Duluth Kmart is the worst department store in the entire world, ever.
Whatever you need, West Duluth Kmart always seems to be out of it. Most of the prices are always high. Some products have no price sticker at all, leaving you to turn the item over repeatedly and study the shelf edge in frustration.
Don't try to ask a salesperson/clerk for help, because finding an employee roaming the aisles of Kmart will be about as easy as finding a Liberace album in prison.
Get this: If you do find someone, and receive the help you need, the employee will actually hand you a ticket that says "Glad I could help!"
That's right, helping a customer is so out of the ordinary at Kmart, they made special tickets for customers to bring to the cashier so the employee can be commended. Apparently, the Kmart way to solve a customer's problem is to offer him a task.
If you manage to find something you need to buy, have fun waiting in the one or two checkout lines that are between six and infinity customers deep, and move as fast as turtles having tantric sex.
If another clerk comes to the front, you might think she'll open a new checkout aisle. Well, occasionally she will. So be ready to jump into the new line. Other times, however, she's just up there to empty a register out for the night. So don't leave the spot in your established line until you know for sure.
If you ever manage to purchase what you need, you'll be treated to a two-foot long receipt for your one item. About one-third of the receipt is information on store specials, as if you can't wait to come back. Another third asks you to complete a customer service survey. Consider mine completed.
Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. He recommends driving the extra six miles to Target. His e-mail address is paul @ geekprom.com.