This holiday season, Wal-Mart has graciously kept its Toronto stores open around the clock. To experience the holiday spirit during the stores’ extended hours, Torontoist hitched a ride on the Blue Line this week at 3 a.m. to the Wal-Mart at Dufferin Mall.
The atmosphere in the store was depressing. The store was a mess—the floors were dirty, and boxes and items were scattered everywhere. The place wasn’t deserted, as at any given moment there were anywhere from twenty to thirty people shopping for groceries, gifts, and other miscellaneous items. But most of the customers seemed to stagger around like zombies, silently dropping items into their shopping carts with sullen eyes and tired expressions. Strangely enough, the most prominent sound was the rhythm of shelves being restocked—everywhere in the store you could hear boxes, cellophane, and plastic rhythmically scraping against each other as dozens of employees prepared the store for the morning.
The employees were the most unnerving part of the experience—those who were shelving or sweeping looked absolutely miserable. “My God, it’s awful,” cried one female employee we talked to in the clothing department. “It’s past midnight, and I’m still here. I was supposed to clock out two hours ago, but I’m still here! Look at me, look at my hair, I look awful!” We asked another employee if customers had been taking advantage of the late hours. “Oh yeah, we’ve had lots of people,” she sighed. “Just wait until the twenty-fourth—it’s going to be crazy.”
Photo by Stephen Michalowicz/Torontoist.