If you could shop at only one department store for the rest of your life...?

Apparently, the answer is Wal-Mart.

Back in November, Zogby International, the famed market research and polling firm, asked a question that they've been asking people for a couple years now: What department store would they prefer to shop at, if they could only shop at that store for the rest of their lives?

Well, the answers were just released last week, and 26% of the 24,964 people who voted went with Wal-Mart. (For anyone interested in taking Zogby polls, by the way, just click here and fill out the registration form.)

Target came in second at 22%. Macy's was 9%. Costco, 8%. Sears, JC Penney and Kohl's were all 5%.


Neimen-Marcus and Bloomingdale's received 2% of the vote, Marshall's got 1% and Boscov's, Filene's and Kaufman's were under 1%.

Now, this is interesting, but in my mind, I'm not sure how accurate it is, because I keep thinking how I would answer this question. I assume Zogby asks it as a creative way to find out what people's favorite department store is, but I know that I'd be taking this question probably too seriously.

My first thought when I read about this poll in Ad Age was: Am I allowed to shop at grocery stores in your imaginary scenario? What about pharmacies? Can I go to little stores, like an electronics store or a bookstore, which aren't considered department stores?

And so naturally, I'd pick Wal-Mart or Target, too. Most importantly, they sell food. Not to mention that the rest of my life is a long time (I hope) to go without buying a book or ibuprofen, which perhaps Sears has, but they're not known for carrying headache remedies. And, sure, Kohl's is a very nice place to shop, but I'm pretty certain that I can't pick up cough medicine there.

So it's a fun question, but I'm thinking it may be too fun of a question to really get a bead on what department store people truly prefer. Or maybe I just shouldn't be taking polls.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).

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