As evening falls, the motels and R.V. parks along America’s highways start to fill with travelers requiring a place for the night.
But to untold a large number of motorists every year – some with a sense of adventure, others seeking to save a buck, still more with no other place to move – Walmart is often a willing host for overnight guests.
“It’s not pretty: zero pine trees, zero bubbling brook, no sea beach,” Chuck Woodbury, the editor of RVTravel.com, said in a tutorial video designed for casual travelers. “The thought of staying at Walmart is usually to park for the night, to get some sleep and then move on.”
Walmart’s practice of letting people populate a lot of its parking plenty has got made the retail giant’s stores a trusted, if somewhat improvised, destination and a place where a casual culture emerges before and at night.
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This summer, two photographers, Mike Belleme and George Ethredge, spent several nights in Walmart parking lots in the South. The men, who are longtime good friends, slept in the rear of a cargo van and talked with people who stopped at Walmarts. Here are a few of the people they met, and items they saw, on the way.
There are standards of etiquette – usually do not, for example, sit in the parking lot in lawn chairs – and also online rosters of no-go Walmarts. There is an expectation that you ought to buy something, but there is absolutely no parking fee. There exists a way of measuring solitary privacy, even in a place that is deliberately accessible. Nonetheless that doesn’t prevent some people from leaving skid marks in the car parking lot.
A whole lot of travelers stay static in their R.V.’s and don’t interact with other people in the parking great deal. They pass the hours by eating, watching television, hanging out with their household pets or sleeping.
Sometimes, people finish up in a Walmart’s parking great deal because they can not think of anywhere else to go, or perhaps have made it part of their regimen.