Back when I had just rented my apartment in Nanjing, my roommate took me shopping at Walmart. I bought toiletries, hangers, kitchen supplies, sheets—everything I needed, all in one easy location. I casually mentioned this to my parents over Skype once, and they were slightly appalled. Walmart?? We avoid that place like the plague back home. After all, Walmart is widely known to represent the epitome of American neoliberal evil. It is the fluorescent prison where idealism goes to die, surrounded by sweatshop-stitched Spiderman sneakers, underpaid employees, and camo-clad parents screaming at their greasy children.

Is Walmart in China any different? The company first opened a retail store in Shenzhen in 1996, and has since expanded to include over 400 stores in 147 cities across China. Although Chinese sales are quickly increasing, revenue from China still only accounts for 2 percent of Walmart’s global total. Several cultural differences have prevented Walmart from taking off in China as it has in the West: Chinese shoppers are accustomed to purchasing small amounts more frequently, making the suburban super-store model less appealing; frugality is also so deeply embedded in Chinese culture that Walmart’s low prices seem much less alluring—Chinese people already know how to get a good deal from local shops and street vendors. They do not need a corporation to teach them how to save money.

Despite these differences, Walmart in China is similar to America in a crucial way—employee treatment. In the U.S., Walmart has long been criticized for subjecting employees to low pay, few benefits, and poor working conditions. It’s the same in China. Although Chinese Walmart employees are officially unionized and members of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), ACFTU has been unsupportive and unsympathetic to employee complaints. Labor laws are weak, leaving disgruntled employees without legal recourse. Although a few employees have attempted to protest—Wang Shishu in Shenzhen is a notable example—most employees simply leave when they realize that they cannot make a living from Walmart wages.

I knew all of this in the back of my mind, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that Walmart was just so damn convenient. There is a large, two-floor store just three blocks from my apartment, stocked to the brim with every consumable item I could imagine, from impossibly cheap bread, to packaged rabbit-meat jerky. As the weeks went by, I continued to shop there. I bought flip-flops and socks, cheap vegetables and snacks, imported goods, and even breakfast—they carry an enormous assortment of steamed breads and buns, for the same price as on the street.

But eventually, I began to feel a little guilty. Why should I buy dirt-cheap yogurt from Sam Walton, when I could pay a few kuai more and get the same yogurt from a family-owned convenience store?

And so, I have made a decision. No more casual shopping at Walmart. I may still go there for imported goods or bulk items like cooking oil, but I’m done paying Sam Walton for my ordinary groceries.

And now, without further ado, I present to you a list of 10 Things You Can Do at Walmart In China

1. Choose from an entire wall of Drisd Meat


2. Select your own (unrefrigerated) eggs


3. Take a nap, if the mood strikes


4. Buy a flattened pig face or two


5. Stock up on dried-out ducks and whatever that other thing isImage

6. Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival by spending your paycheck on moon cake gift boxes for all your friendsImage

7. Choose from a massive selection of buns, cakes, dumplings, dim sum, and other Chinese snacksImage

8. Ride up and down the super steep moving ramps between floorsImage

9. Buy massive amounts of oil and rice


10. Select your favorite turtles, frogs, and eelsImage