“We can’t have nice things because you don’t take care of them.”

Did you ever hear that from your parents?  As a relatively new parent (Ike’s 3 now) I find myself thinking that sometimes and I think I’ve even said it while cleaning up some kind of ruined/broken thing that I previously valued.

This brings me to something I saw this weekend. I stopped by the Walmart near my house in North Austin. I was picking up some last minute Halloween supplies and, of course, I had to drop in the produce department to just to see how things look.

And there I saw something I never thought I’d see at Walmart: A bin of SweeTango apples.

Most people who know me know I’m a bit of an apple snob and I happen to LOVE SweeTangos, which are like Honeycrisp kicked up a notch.

They’re also pricey, on sale for a $2.47 a pound in this display. I usually pay $2.99 a pound.  

And they’re delicate.

First, I thought, “Score! I don’t have to trek down to Central Market to get my fix.” Then I looked at the apples in the bin.

Uh. No.

Almost every piece of fruit was bruised, pitted, split and one even had a bite taken out of it.

Gross.

I left the display untouched and went home. I griped about it on Facebook and it got me thinking that maybe it was the weekend wipeout. Maybe the display had a busy Saturday and Sunday. I’ve seen even Whole Foods look rough after a busy day.

So, I went back on Tuesday afternoon for another look.

They looked just as bad as my previous visit.

Is this a rip on SweeTango apples? Absolutely not.

I’m not sure SweeTangos are a good fit for Walmart shoppers – or Walmart’s “dump and go” merchandising strategy.

What were they thinking having a display of delicate, expensive fruit most people haven’t tried sandwiched between a bin of gala and a bin of red delicious – both of which looked great and were on sale for $1.27 a pound? Their shrink on this is going be outrageous.

Couple that with the f.o.b. price of SweeTangos running roughly double gala and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Everyday Jane Walmart shopper probably doesn’t have a strong opinion on apple varieties and probably doesn’t care what kind of apples her kids eat.

She’s looking for a good deal and she’s going to walk right by this bin and think “Those must not be very good apples.”

A clerk’s going to come through this department and start cleaning up the display of fancy, expensive—neglected—apples and think “Wow, these didn’t sell at all.”

A number cruncher in the corporate office is going to look at the sales numbers and shrink and think “We can’t have anything nice.”

This rant isn’t just about Walmart. Or apples. It’s about merchandising and staffing.

Because what’s the point of carrying a premium item—or anything, for that matter—if you don’t follow through with good store-level execution?