Photos of filthy Walmart stores

I once read that people who litter not only have little respect for the world around them, but that they also have little respect for themselves. I believe it. So is it any wonder that Walmart -- which is owned by a handful of the richest people on Earth yet shows little respect for employees, shoppers, communities, and taxpayers -- would have litter strewn, filthy stores?

Rob Cockerham says:

I wrote an article, with a bunch of photos, which illustrates the very sad state of Walmart stores in Sacramento. It's widely known, but I thought it might be a good idea to document the current state of my local stores and call out the billionaire owners to do a better job with their properties.

I got thrown out after 330 pictures.

Officer Perez from the Elk Grove police department approached me and said that he had been summoned because someone was "taking pictures of women." Two more officers arrived on the scene and asked to look through my photos, which I allowed. I was asked if I lived in Elk Grove or was just visiting.

I believe the officer took this photo as she attempted to view the photos. She clicked through them. "They are just pictures of trash."

I explained that I was taking photos for this article I was writing called "Get Your Shit Together Walmart", wherein I would document the state of Walmart stores and ask their league of billionaire owners to meet the community standards of cleanliness in their stores. They were not impressed.

"I'm sure your house isn't clean all the time," one officer suggested, defending Walmart.

"True, but I don't invite people over when it is a mess," wasn't my actual reply.

Officer Perez told me that taking photos was against the rules at Walmart and told me that I would have to leave Walmart and not return.

Photos of filthy Walmart stores



  1. I hate going to Walmart as much as the next guy, but I will say, at least half of these photographs seem to be a result of patrons of the store littering, putting Popsicles in the bacon display, leaving merchandise on the floor, etc. Of course a certain amount of that is customary and stores should clean it up, but still…

    1. I guess on of the questions is  whether  Walmart customers are more likely to make a mess or Walmart is not staffing at appropriate levels for the mess of an average consumer.

      1. I recently read this:

        Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and grocer, has cut so many employees that it no longer has enough workers to stock its shelves properly, according to some employees and industry analysts.

        I recently moved and I immediately noticed that the Walmart where I live now is much much dirtier than where I used to live.  The previous Walmart (in CO) was clean and well-lit with wide aisles … not so much for the new (to me) Walmart (which is actually about an hour from Sacramento).

        1. Walmart has cut so many employees that it no longer has enough workers to stock its shelves properly.

          Having erased hundreds of thousands of jobs from local communities, then “downsizing” themselves and they’re also Too Big To Fail, it wouldn’t surprise me if Walmart keeps on having year after year of monstrous profitability.

          Taking their policies to the “logical” endgame, you know what Walmart could do to save yet another buck or two?  Get rid of hand soap in the restrooms.  Sounds absurd but you just know this “idea” floated in the head of a suit in Bentonville.

        2. The biggest expense for companies are their employees, so if you’re a greedy exec or owner who no longer gives a sh*t about customers or employees, then you lay people off so you can increase profit.

          The worst job in the world must be a Walmart store manager, trying to deal with a lack of staff, and/or dealing with an ignorant and/or lazy staff.  But, as has been mentioned here already, all of the mis-placed items are due to customers.  I shop at Walmart as a last resort.  I usually go to Target, or smaller local stores.

          1. There are poor people, and crazy people, but don’t those same people go to Ikea, Disneyland and Build a Bear workshop? Every other store cleans up.  It’s the store, not the people.

          2. @google-dd148fd064843601322123bb2f9e85b8:disqus wake me up when there’s a People of Ikea/Disneyland/Build a Bear Workshop site.

          3. I read that as, “Wake me up when the people at Ikea/Disney build a bear worship site.”

    2. my classmate’s mother-in-law makes $70/hour on the laptop. She has been unemployed for five months but last month her payment was $19747 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on  Zap22.c­om

    3. To be honest the parking lot pics don’t seem much worse than 99% of the public shopping parking lots I’ve seen.  Not that it excuses the trash but I can’t single out Walmart either.

  2. I’ve never been in any store, clean or not, that would let me take pictures.

    I’ve also been in stores that were a lot less clean, but those were dusty old mom n pop stores that had been there for 80 years. 

  3. All the charm of a third world street market.

    I have been to walmart only a couple of times over the last decade.  Mostly when I needed somehting for a camping trip and they were the only option.   I think they are all pretty filthy, poorly lit, and disorganized.

    Depressing places really…..   But low low prices and high high profits…  through low low standards.

    1.  Target is similarly awful. Not so much filthy, as in complete disarray. I’ve almost (not totally, to my shame) been able to cut big boxes out of my life altogether  (they’re immoral basically for a million reasons from their scummy owners down to their effects) but I had credit at Target from a returned gift and visited my local one recently. What a mess. Of course I end up being charged 20 something dollars for an air filter I thought was $5, the prices and items were so jumbled and mixed up that it was impossible to match the actual items with their prices. And yes, I tried to decipher the UPC/item number codes the best I could. Furthermore, its presence in the neighborhood has basically helped turned a very urban area into an unfriendly no-go zone for pedestrians, cyclists etc. Just no good all around.

      I wanted to mention Target too, because they’re about as bad as Walmart is but strangely get left off the hook. I guess they’re better at marketing themselves..

      1. I don’t want, in any way, shape, or form, to let Target off the hook, but I thought they had price check devices throughout the store so, if you were unsure, you could find the price of what you were buying before you got to the register. I thought Wal Mart had these too.

        Then again maybe they got rid of them when people started checking prices and saying, “Twenty bucks for an air filter? Forget it.”

        1.  Ha, I must admit I didn’t know about that. Seems like I would have seen them, even by accident. Yeah, basically I said no thanks. The credit was better used on a bottle of tequila ;)

          1.  They camouflage them through obfuscation. There is more “Target red” splashed around those stores than the floor of an abattoir and the scanners are the same color (in my experience, anyhow). I’m a shameless prick who, when confronted with items not priced in an obvious manner, will decide on what I’m willing to pay for said item and take it with me to checkout and get it priced there and ditch it if their # is worse than my #.

            As to the labyrinthine nature of Target (and many large retailers) I thinks it’s a Vegas-style headfuck to force you to wander around the store more. Most of the big box stores I’ve gone to on a regular basis seem to relocate shit about every six months and I’ve yet to see any increase in efficiency for stocking items or flow of traffic. I think it’s just so you can’t go right to aisle C4 and get tampons and leave. You have to walk around and past all the cheap tchotchke and resist temptation of a 12 pack of sugar free gum for only $1.49.

          2. ” Most of the big box stores I’ve gone to on a regular basis seem to relocate shit about every six months and I’ve yet to see any increase in efficiency for stocking items or flow of traffic.”

            I thought that was a universally-known truth. Grocery stores do it too. Why is milk in the back? Because a certain percentage of people are going to walk down the candy aisle to get to it. Retail psychology is a finely-tuned science. Here’s a piece that touches on some of the points — and in a much more reputable-seeming store chain.

          3. If you want to move the merchandise, you’ve got to move the merchandise.

      2. It must depend on the store manager, or the district supervisor performing inadequate oversight, or maybe the antisocialness of the local customer base. About half the Targets I’ve been in have been fairly immaculate and a pleasure to shop in (well, by big-box standards,) and half in disarray. Lowe’s is the same way, whereas Home Depot is always a total mess.

        1.  You’ll notice I didn’t say dirty, just confusion on the shelves. It used to be dirtier and even more disorganized. Shelves just empty in many cases. That was back in the day though. They renovated and have catered to a more yuppie clientele as this side of town has gentrified.

        2. Home Depot is always a total mess.

          That’s the damn truth.  Outside of some electrical stuff I avoid going there if I can.

      3. At least the Target stores in my area are kept up better and less depressing than Wallmart.

    2. Depressing places really…..   But low low prices and high high profits…  through low low standards.

      You forgot always low wages.

  4. I work in a grocery store, and this seems pretty status quo for customers’ behavior. Don’t really see what the big deal is here.

    1. You must love it when customers leave food out that must be refrigerated because they are too lazy to walk and put it back so you have to toss it.

    2. Please name which grocery store you work at so I know never to shop there.

      The stores I go to (King Soopers, Safeway and Albertsons) are never as bad as Walmart.  Then again, I’ve never seen them as understaffed as Walmart, either.

      1. There is a safeway just at the other end of our condo parking lot.  When I moved in about 6 years ago I was overjoyed, so convenient.  However, at the top of the stairs from the parking lot they put in a pair of cement and metal posts. If you are large or are bringing back a lot of groceries, it is really difficult to get through. Two families that each had blind members and had moved in here because it was convenient, moved away after the posts were put in because it was too much trouble. The SW moves their items around all the time. Now I stop at other stores, particularly Trader Joe’s.  I’m out enough that doing that is much easier than the SW. I have no regrets about changing.  I do have regrets that I felt forced to.

  5. Wal-Mart will throw you out for taking pictures or writing down prices.  They are all big on price-checking their competitors but if you try to price check them, they call the cops.

      1. It helps that they set just about every price to $XX.98. That single penny guarantees having a lower price than pretty much everyone else. 

    1.  I haven’t had that happen. Just tell them you checking with your spouse to make sure you were buying the right item.

    2. I’d be curious to know on what legal basis a retailer can eject you for violating unposted rules. It would seem to me, in my ignorance, that at most they could tell you to stop what you’re doing. If you then persist, now you’re violating a KNOWN rule, and are thus ejectable. No? 

      Or are only psychics welcome in Walmart? How many OTHER unknowable rules do you suppose they have? Is there, for instance, a rule against walking into a Walmart with a cynical attitude about it?

      1. “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” is pretty standard, and enforceable as long as it doesn’t violate any anti-discrimination laws.

  6. For the record, the Elk Grove PD is one of the highest paid in the country. Yet all they ever seem to be doing is pulling over minorities and patrolling the ‘good’ part of town, and kicking people out of walmart – and always, ALWAYS in groups of 3 or more. Do you really need three officers to kick a photographer off the premises?

    1.  I have very little problem with them removing a person from premises or serving a trespass notice, that is literally the job they are paid to do. Making comments that have nothing to do with their job, however, “Your house is probably dirty sometimes, too.” is complete fucking bullshit.

      My dirty house, should it feature several hundred pounds of dog food would pose a public health risk and attract vermin and I would be getting some form of appropriate censure, not protection. So fuck you Mr. Cop.

        1.  I don’t know how true this is but I suspect this is cop shit having to do with justifying budgets “We had police on calls for xxx hours this year responding to and enforcing stuff” In case the budget ever comes in to question they don’t have to say how many hours involved sitting around with their pud in their hands waiting for some brown person to look suspicious.

  7. There are three stores featured, with all of the photos of a particular store taken in just one day. I challenge you to find any other store with a similar incidence of chaos per meter².

  8. I believe they sent a female officer to browse through my camera, in case I had it loaded with female anatomy pictures.

    1. I don’t suppose you asked them how they felt about the possibility that they were called in on false pretences and would they have come a person taking pictures of a mess was reported.

  9. I seem to remember some documentary about Wal-mart where it showed them using patio furniture as office furniture in their head office, and the interiors looked so dim and dismal it was like a movie portrayal of East Germany.

    1. As someone who actually works in the home office, I can tell you this is simply not true.  I have never seen patio furniture used as office furniture and East Germany actually looks much nicer these days also.

  10. I love the cops feel that it’s their duty to defend company policy, and also to defend a corporation.

    Then again, they know that Walmart pays a greater proportion of their salary than a photographer, I guess.

    1. That part did not bug me. It is private property and they can set the rules there. If you are breaking the rules and refuse to leave then they call the cops in for a trespass issue. This does not appear to be the case here, but if staff and customers were worried about a perv taking upskirt shots then I can see it as a pretty reasonable action to call the cops.

      1. True. I missed a part in my comment, because I couldn’t work out how to phrase it properly and then my ADD brain forgot about it.

        When I said “and also to defend a corporation” I was referring to this part of the article:

        “I’m sure your house isn’t clean all the time,” one officer suggested, defending Walmart.

        I meant the very fact that officers felt that it was their duty to “be on the side of the corporation” against the regular folks, and to defend them against whatever negative thoughts the folks had about them.

        In general, cops would probably prefer it if there were more Walmarts and fewer unwashed masses.

      2.  I just have a nagging suspicion that the “no photos” rule was invented on the spot.

        1. It’s actually a pretty standard policy.  “No photos” would be better expressed as a “no photos for commercial uses” policy.  When I was working security for an upscale office/shopping development, I occasionally had to approach people taking pictures when it wasn’t clear they were just taking personal photos of themselves or their friends. 

          Anyone photographing for non-personal uses was instructed to go to the property management office and get permission first.  Reporters and news crews, for one.  Most stores also didn’t want people photographing their store fronts or window displays.  One thing I ran into surprisingly often was people taking photos for “microstock” use; the place had some dramatic views and vistas.  One late-night incident featured a sort of “drive-by fashion shooting”; drive onto property, stop at a pre-scouted location, quick series of photos, leave before Security gets there.  (The young lady being photographed looked quite nice in her blue lace underwear, I must admit.)

          For a place with restrictions on visitors’ photography, the reverse didn’t apply; we had over 150 security cameras on property, with very few blind spots.  (Is concrete erogenous?  Because the parking garages seemed to be the favored place for making out, heavy petting, and occasional full-blown sex.)

          1. Most stores also didn’t want people photographing their store fronts or window displays.

            Too fuckin’ bad. Draw the curtains.

          2. Given how many cameras there are now stores are going to have to just fucking get used to it as it is only going to get worse.

            Things like google glass ARE going to take off in some form and cameras are just going to be even more ubiquitous.

      3. I don’t see any indication that WalMart did anything more than simply call the police. Are we supposed to assume that Walmart didn’t approach him because he “could be crazy” “have a sex bomb” or other irrationally borrowed trouble?

      4. But I repeat: you cannot possibly be breaking a rule of whose existence you have been deliberately kept ignorant. Post ’em or they aren’t rules.

  11. The only Walmart I have access to is very well lit (almost oppressively so), very clean and tolerably well organized.

    But I live in Canada.

    1. The UK Equivalents (Tesco & Asda etc) seem to be much better too. The Discount Lidl store that’s my usual supermarket looks like a operating theatre compared to Rob’s photos.

  12. That you call filthy?! You should see the stores in MN – every one has sticky floors, deli chicken bones, and hidden dirty diapers. It’s a horror-level from FALLOUT, but without the snappy advertisements.

    1. Almost as bad here in MI.  And over there in WI and IA, and those far flung ones I went to in AL and MS (not even an alternative option down there).

      What’s the dirtiest Target store you’ve ever been in and what year was it?  For me it was Burnsville cir. 1984.  They’ve since renovated the hell out of it.  

  13. Really classy of Wal-Mart to insinuate the person was some kind of sexual predator because they realised calling the police because someone was just taking photos of their store didn’t sound bad enough.

  14. Might as well call out all the open cargo space trucks (pickups, dump trucks, etc) that leave a steady plume of trash behind them on the highway because the owner either uses their truck as a garbage can or  can’t be bothered to cover it.  I was stuck behind a semi carrying a load of trash today that constantly shed debris the whole way.

  15. Competitors send people in to stores to take pix of displays and pricing all the time… that’s why pix are verboten. 

    I equate shoppers dirtying the store to the theory that graffiti in a neighborhood begets more graffiti and property damage — folks see trash everywhere and are less likely to put their things back. Plus, most of the pix show filth that comes from neglect and lack of caring on the store manager’s part — how is a customer responsible for keeping the floors clear of junk?

    The Wal-Mart in Decatur, GA is a cesspoll from their chicken bone and ketchup strewn parking lot to the tear-stained pajamas for $8.99 that emit the sadness of abused factory workers.  

  16. I recently had a job as a private contractor for Wal-Mart that brought me into the bowels of several stores. Their grocery departments were filthy, especially bad in receiving. Problems with rats and birds.
    In the middle of the night, with the produce department free of people, the birds would take baths in the automated sprayers.  Finches frolicking in the lettuce.
    One location did not have a refrigerated room to handle meat in, safe temperature ranges were rarely observed while both the walk-in cooler and freezer had inoperable thermometers.

    Every Wal-Mart I went to reflected what can only be described as neglect and the morale of their regular employees was dismal.
    As far as I could observe these problems were systemic.

    1. “Finches frolicking in the lettuce” may be the cutest filth I’ve ever heard of, but why aren’t there health inspectors making surprise visits? The worst of what you describe is not happening only in the middle of the night.

      1. …why aren’t there health inspectors making surprise visits?

        Because the health inspectors are under the aegis of the same politicians who not only allowed Walmart to build in that location, but probably gave them a couple million dollars to “attract” the business to their town. Amity, as you know, means friendship.

  17. But all that wealth paid for an awesome art museum in the middle of nowhere!

    Such fine taste!  And she’s so down to earth and folksy, buying million dollar pieces of artwork and displaying them for everyone to see.  Maybe she should add an exhibit that portrays a slice of cake entitled ‘Let them eat cake’.  

    1.  Given the location it might as well be locked away from the public in a mansion. Of course she does much worse things with her share of the fortune like spend a ton of money attacking teachers, labor, and trying to privatize everything…

  18. Avoiding Wal Mart is like:
    a) avoiding taking a cheese grater to my genitals
    b) avoiding a tar enema
    c) avoiding a Drano neti pot
    d) a and c
    e) all of the above

  19. I oppose Walmart coming into a neighborhood since it destroys small, independent stores. However, once a Walmart is established, I will shop there to take advantage of the low prices and convenience.Some things are bigger than me.

    1. A Walmart Store is definitely bigger than you.  It has more square footage.  

  20. Should we be surprised that stores that prioritize price above all else might not be the cleanest places to shop? With that said, I didn’t think the pictures were THAT filthy.

  21. Where I live K-Mart is bottom of the pile, followed by Wal-Mart and then Target. 

    Seriously our local K-Mart is ten times sketchier than any Wal-Mart I’ve been in.  Now we used to have a Super K back like 15 years ago and surprising it was clean as it could be, open 24/7 and I only had minor issues with employee laziness in the early morning hours.

  22. they probably got a little creeped out of him taking pictures in the tampon aisle.

  23. Remember that the memory cards in most cameras use the FAT file system, so if you”re ever confronted for taking pictures cheerfully offering to delete the pictures and easily recovering the deleted files later is always an option.

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