Democrats & Liberals Archives

Sic Wal Mart onto Financial Industry

I hate Wal Mart. In order to achieve its everyday low prices it offers its employees miserably low wages and almost insignificant benefits, forces its employees to sing songs about Wal Mart greatness, violently keeps its store free of unions, hounds its suppliers to keep producing ever cheaper products and depends more and more on foreign suppliers, especially in China. While Wal Mart does its damage by reducing prices, the financial industry does its damage by increasing prices: fees, interest, etc. Maybe allowing Wal Mart to compete with the financial industry is a good thing.

I never thought I would go so far as to prefer Wal Mart to other commercial predators. As a matter of fact, I have just read "The Bully of Bentonville," by Anthony Bianco, which presents some horrible facts about Wal Mart, among them:

  • The typical Wal Mart employee makes $17,600/year, below the poverty line of $19,157 for a family of 4
  • 46% of the children of Wal Mart employees are uninsured
  • Employees are often not paid for overtime because this may increase costs
  • Female employees make less than male employees doing the same job
  • Wal Mart yearly turnover is 50% - half of their workforce quits
  • Wal Mart has a centralized computer system that issues up-to-the-minute work schedules for each store based on customer buying statistics. Often this means that an employee does not know until the last minute whether he will work a given day
  • Of the 6,000 factories Wal Mart deals with, 80% are in China
  • All suppliers must compete with the so-call "China price." Many are forced out of business because they can't meet this price
  • Wal Mart would rather close a money-making store than have it unionized. They have done exactly that in Canada
Not only is Wal Mart a degrading employer, it is reducing the wages of unskilled people in America. By being a prime outsourcer, it is sending many jobs overseas. By harshly pushing its suppliers, it's causing them to reduce wages as well. We are in the midst of a big push to the bottom.

So when Wal Mart announced it wanted to get into banking in a limited way, my first reaction was: NO WAY! But then I read this by Ezra Klein of the American Prospect and I reconsidered:

"Not only are the current banking behemoths grossly ripping consumers off through transaction and ATM fees, but geographical inequities abound, with large swaths of the (poor) populace lacking access to any sort of accredited, serious financial institution, and turning instead to sharkish corner stores and money order merchants. Were Wal-Mart to enter the game, many of those inequities would instantly vanish, millions of poorer folks would have access to a serious banking alternative, and some of the more useless charges and inefficiencies retained by the sclerotic banking industry would rapidly prove unsustainable. Reflexively mistrustful of Wal-Mart though I am, I've a tough time opposing that."

Both Wal Mart and the financial companies are predators. Wal Mart screws workers and suppliers. Financial companies screw consumers. It's time to set up a little competition that all of them talk about constantly. Since Wal Mart competes by reducing prices, it will force the financial instututions to reduce prices as well. Let's sic Wal Mart onto the financial industry.

Posted by Paul Siegel at April 13, 2006 5:26 PM
Comments
Comment #140502

If you don’t like it, don’t buy it from Wal Mart. Launch a campaign to boycott them.

Unfortunately, people are too poor to go anywhere else.

Posted by: Aldous at April 13, 2006 5:55 PM
Comment #140504

What seperates Wal-Mart from other businesses is their ethics. Unlike most buinesses (with plenty of exceptions) Wal-Mart lacks ethics entirely. They work to provide profit to their stockholders and business heads regardless of the impact on society.
I recently began reading “The Bully of Bentonville” and personally think it gives a brutally honest picture of what Wal-Mart is. Furthermore, Bianco is a great writer who really gives the reader a feel for the selfish motivations of the company and its CEOs. I also recomend “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” which gives a great look at the same kinds of pigs and the effects their actions have had on society.

Posted by: dbpitt at April 13, 2006 5:56 PM
Comment #140507

OMG, are you guys just NOW clueing into Wal-Marts business practices????? I have known about what they were doing for years, the ONLY answer is to boycott them. I shop at Target (though I am not sure they are any better) when I am in the US, and Zeller’s here in Canada. People need to know the REAL damage they do to an economy.

Posted by: John at April 13, 2006 6:07 PM
Comment #140516

Walmart is a success story because of their superior control of the purchasing and distribution process. After the Hurricane when the only supplies available elsewhere was tepid bottled water, Walmart filled the gap for refugees by providing reasonably priced replacements for all the common household objects that were lost in the storm.

In New Orleans, the police, ejected the looters and set up operations in a Super Walmart. They had supplies on hand for distribution at the cheapest cost ever associated with government procurement.

I know that Walmart is supposed to be the scourge of small town economics, but I often wonder how many people saying that have ever been to either a small town or a Walmart. I used to work in small towns in southern Mississippi and I never saw the thriving industrial base that Walmart was going to destroy in a few years. I don’t think that a chicken shack, a A&W, a pharmacy and one “department” store make a Mayberry.

The arrival of Walmarts provided basic goods at reasonable prices to people who had become accustomed to traveling an hour or more for an significant purchase. And yes, maybe a Walmart job isn’t your dream job. And maybe the insurance isn’t as good as what available to professional, technical or even semi-skilled labor in more developed areas, but it is 100% better than what’s available at your local A&W.

Wally bashers all know three to twenty stories of unsavory employment practices by Walmart. Even if all of them are true and present an unbiased version of reality, it’s important to remember how many people Walmart employs who are reasonably happy with their jobs.

If you don’t like Walmart, don’t shop there but don’t be a snob. For many poor people, and some not so poor, Walmart was the first alternative from the overpriced neighborhood store in urban areas and the distant mall in the county seat in rural areas.

Posted by: goodkingned at April 13, 2006 6:46 PM
Comment #140522

goodking,
Nice pitch, but you basically ignored the articles assertions about Wally’s effect on the overall global picture.
Someone working a 40hr a week job shouldn’t need food stamps or AFDC money. That’s the point. They ARE the largest employer in the US. What they do affects us ALL. WE have to take up the slack if they wont pay a decent wage.
The nice part is that they’ll help you fill out the forms for receiving government aid.
BTW, Costco pays their average employee nearly double, and I’d say their prices are competetive.

Posted by: Norby at April 13, 2006 7:34 PM
Comment #140526

goodkingned, You’re conflating two issues here.

Walmart has increased productivity through the use of technology. Under Sam Walton it did limit corporate waste. The early stages of Walmart did good for employee’s through stock ownership.

Sam Walton no longer runs it. It is no longer just more competitive, it is now monopolistic through monopolistic practices, forcing others out of the market through exclusive contracts. It is now using predatory practices to increase it’s margins.

Walmart finance? I wouldn’t trust them myself. They are just as predatory as other banking intitutions.

I’m just wondering when America ,collectively,not just locally, will wake up and call a robber baron a robber baron.

Even Google is changing these days.

Posted by: gergle at April 13, 2006 7:40 PM
Comment #140527

Paul,

So what you are saying is that you are ok that Wal-Mart meets its mission of offering low prices to its consumers when the jobs at stake are all high-paying, but when then jobs at stake are low-paying then they are ruthless bastards?

Seems like a (socialist) double standard to me.

Norby,

Costco does do well in both pay and profits visa a vis Wal-Mart, but the do it with an entirely different business model and target market. They stock something like only 400 products at a time so they can push for volume pricing versus Wal-Mart which stocks thousands more. Can’t find what you need at Costco, and you are probably going to Wal-Mart anyway. Costco also targets higher income brackets and small businesses that can afford to buy in bulk. The membership fee alone will likely keep most of the poor that Wal-Mart serves out of the store. This enables them to supplement their everday goods with a lot more high margin niceties that will actually leave their store.

Paul,

50% turnover for a company in the big box retail sector seems fairly reasonable if not actually better than average. How do they fair versus their closest competitors (K-Mart, Dollar General, etc.) in wages, retention, and benefits? I’m guessing that they are at or above the industry average. Am I wrong?

Posted by: Rob at April 13, 2006 7:50 PM
Comment #140528

A lot of people hate Wal-Mart because it is non-union and successful. It employs mostly the poor and serves mostly the poor, which is another reason the elitist don’t like it. The buildings are not attractive and the products are not usually very beautiful.

Wal-Mart provides services to people and places that might not otherwise get it. If you want to see what kind of big money Wal-Mart share holders have been making, take a look at the 5 year chart. For those of you who don’t follow links, Wal-Mart was selling for about $53 five years ago. Now it is worth $47.77. In five years of investing, they lost nearly 10%.

Maybe those rich shareholders have managed to hide the money so well, even they cant find it. I always enjoy the financial calculations on the blue side. You guys should update your stereotypes.

There are many reasons not to like Wal-Mart, but you all should admit that it is mostly because it serves the poor and whips the unions.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 7:54 PM
Comment #140542

WalMart is no friend of the poor. Consider a cheap Chinese-made DVD player at Wal Mart for $35, and lasts for 2 years. Same feature, higher quality player from a brand-store costs $65, but lasts 5-6 years. Over time, the poor person is paying up to 40% more for crappier merchandise. Uneducated, poor people are being preyed upon through clever accounting and decreased value. Do the math. It’s like the old “Fingerhut” scam that fooled my poor parents for years.

Posted by: MJ Paul at April 13, 2006 9:14 PM
Comment #140554

I bought one of those $35 Chinese-made DVD players at Wal-Mart about four years ago. It’s working just fine, thank you.

When Wal-Mart came to our community a little less than 20 years ago, the local merchants moaned and wailed that Wal-Mart would put out of business. Well, guess what?

The local businesses, with only two exceptions, are thriving because of all the increased traffic winding its way past their doors on the way to Wal-Mart.

It was a direct result of Wal-Mart’s presence that two new shopping centers have opened, with occupants like Old Navy, The Pier and Kohl’s. And Target is currently erecting a new store.

Kmart has remodeled and expanded their store to try and keep pace with Wal-Mart. And all that new construction is generating millions of doolars in property taxes and millions of dollars more in sales tax.

Is Wal-Mart the devil incarnate? Maybe.

But not to the citizens and businesses in our community.


Posted by: ulysses at April 13, 2006 10:21 PM
Comment #140555

that’s right mj paul. wal-mart sells substandard crap. there stock might be down 10% right now, but there profits have doubeled in five years.! while there average worker makes under $9 dollars a hour and full time is 32 hours a week . while there ceo mr scott makes over $9 million a year plus 50 million in stock. compare this to a real company like costco . for about that $35 dollars that someone paid for crap at wal-mart they could be a member of costco where there workers average about $17.50 dollars a hour and 93% of costcos work force has better than average insurance benefits. also there ceo mr sinegal makes about $425,000 a year in salary. and costco does not have a pr department and does not pay a dime for outside advertising btw costco also makes a profit only its not off there workers back!. costco is the true old fashioned conservative way to run a company just like my dad did for 37 years.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 13, 2006 10:32 PM
Comment #140565

How come Costco can pay better with full benefits?

Posted by: gergle at April 13, 2006 11:12 PM
Comment #140566

I worked for Wal Mart for fourteen years (right after I retired from the Marine Corps), and I must agree that the company I worked for did a pretty good job. It paid a reasonable wage and the Profit Sharing alone mede it a better than average pay-off to work there. Many who started earlier than I have retired as millionaires. I missed out on that by coming to the company too late and bowing out too early.

That being said…Since about 1992 or 93, under the leadership of David Glass and Lee Scott, the company has dumped on America and its ‘associates’.

Wal Mart no longer supports the Buy America Program it started, mostly because some of the companies it was dealing with were union shops. While the quality of the product was superior and could be produced at a reasonable price, it was union run and scared Wal Mart to death.

The company is so powerful in the buyers market that ‘free market’ does not exist and never will as long as Wal Mart retains that kind of power.

Product quality is dictated by Wal Mart and vendors cannot fight it and still survive, i.e., an example might be button-up shirts. Wal Mart, in order to make the extra penny on an item so they can “Roll Back” the price will insist the the manufacturer cut an inch off the bottom, use a lower thread count material, use smaller buttons, use less thread on the seams and button holes and two-hole buttons instead of four hole ones. Wal Mart makes an extra few pennies per unit of sale. But… the poor sap who buys the shirt can’t keep it tucked in because the tail is too short. That makes for a lot of ‘plumbers butt crack’ exposed in public. The shirt doesn’t last as long so the poor sap who buys it has to buy two to get the same wear as he would if he paid a few pennies more, And he walks around with his belly sticking out because he can’t keep it buttoned or the buttons are missing. Whee!

Thank the Chinese and Wal Mart, because neither likes America or Americans very much…

Posted by: Marysdude at April 13, 2006 11:13 PM
Comment #140570

And, to the point of this thread…If you can’t trust Wal Mart to provide a decent shirt at a reasonable price, how can you trust one of their banks? The others are bad enough, but Wally-Bank could be infinitly worse.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 13, 2006 11:39 PM
Comment #140577

wall-mart fiancial centers 50 thousand strong and backed in full faith by the chinese yuan and run by charles keating inc. dont you feel secure already! ? ! ? ! ?

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 14, 2006 12:17 AM
Comment #140579

How many of yaall bashing WalMart live in a rural area? How many of yaall have had to travel 25 to 50 miles just to get to a store that has what you need? How many of yaall have had to travel 25 to 50 miles to get to a minimum wage job?
Yaall say that WalMart puts mom and pop stores out of business and cost folks there jobs once they move into a small town. Maybe the mom and pop stores don’t very good, but average WalMart employees more folks that all the mom and pop stores in town. That’s because the mom and pop stores are just that. Mom and pop running them. If they do have employees it’s only one or two. And they sure a hell don’t come close to paying more than WalMart. In fact they usually pay less.
No WalMart doesn’t pay much more than $9 an hour. But the fact is that in most rural areas $7 to $8 per hour is considered good pay. And the $6 to $7 per hour that WalMart pays is average. Specially in the retail market.
How many of yaall have ever tired to keep close to 1,000,000 employees happy? I can tell you it’s tough enough keeping 55 happy. So yeah, there’s going to be a whole heap of unhappy employees. And yeah, there’s going to be managers that’s going to abuse their employees. Does WalMart encourage this? I can’t say for sure and neither can you.
My sister over in Northwest Arkansas was telling me the other day that in the WalMart in Springdale an employee cashed her pay check at the Arvest Bank in the store. Went to the stores customer service counter and bought a money order. She gave the clerk a $100 bill that she got from the bank. It turned out that the bill was a counterfeit. The store manager had the employee arrested for passing counterfeit money. The corporate office has droped the charges and fired the manager. Sure sounds like bad treatment of employees on the part of the corporation.
BTW,if WalMart pays so bad how did she make enough to get that $100 bill?.
Oh yeah, Arvest Bank is owned by WalMart. So they’re already in the banking business. At least in Arkansas.
We don’t shop at WalMart because we’ve found the quality of their products isn’t what we like. I bought a pair of boots there once. I paid around $20 for them. They were worn out in less than 3 months. I went somewhere else and paid $80 for another pair that last me 4 years. That’s $80 for 4 years verses $320 over four years. This aint the only thing we’ve had this experience with.
However, if WalMart had been around while our kids were growing up, they most likely would’ve been our best friends. My son was able to tear up a $20 pair of jeans as quick as he could a $8 pair. And the girls weren’t much better.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 14, 2006 12:33 AM
Comment #140581

you know, i don’t really like walmart any more than most people on this site which is why I wouldn’t be caught dead in one. someone mentioned how businesses surrounding a walmart thrive (Old Navy, The Pier, Target, etc…) because of the increased foot traffic, which is an idiotic thing to say because none of these are local businesses either. That argument says nothing about how walmart drives “small business” out of business.

That being said, i have to agree with the original post. why should all the other small businesses across the US be forced to compete with companies like walmart but the financial institutions get a pass? it seems contradictory to the principles of the “free market”. makes me wonder what would happen if walmart got into the pharmaceutical business or the petroleum refining business.

Posted by: Grant at April 14, 2006 12:52 AM
Comment #140584

hey ron i am like marysdude wallmart was fine until about 1996-97 remember all of those little american flags, only made in the usa was there motto! they became so anti american. you have a point about rural areas, but a little competition would be a good thing.i price shop but also i try to buy some quality i just bought 10 pairs of levis jeans for half off at meryvns cheaper than the wall- mart brand! and five times better. and stronger. i wore levis as a kid ,of course on sale! my mom one time bought the cheap ones and the rear end ripped out! at school then you pray you have a coat to wrap around your butt or run funny all the way home.ask marysdude about how wal-marts quality went down the crapper he worked there .

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 14, 2006 1:14 AM
Comment #140611

All

Wal_Mart is the primary reason the middle class merchant is out of business.

When they open up a store,they wipe out competition.

The money goes straight to the bank where corporate gets it.Then the Waltons.

The middle class merchant lived in that town,bought a house there,and spent his money there.He re-cycled it.

Wal-Mart is a vaccun cleaner,destroying America,I think.

Same with Sam’s club,owned by the Waltons too.

If incoming tarrifs are raised on Chinese goods that would be a start.

If you shop at Wal-Mart,you deserve the consequences.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at April 14, 2006 7:12 AM
Comment #140614

Anyone who thinks Walmart DOESN’T screw the customer, product quality aside, must have the patience of Job. I can’t remember the last time I was in one, must have been a couple of years now. The person I asked to assist me pricing a product must have been one of those who had been called in to work without prior scheduling… she was very put off that I interrupted her shelf-stocking to help me out. And if memory serves, I’d wager that the check out girl I dealt with was about 15 minutes away from joining the 50% that quit. When employees are treated like dirt and paid like second class citizens, don’t be surprised when they pass that attitude on to the customer.

I DO boycott walmart.
I urge everyone I know to do the same.
I ridicule those who admit to shopping there.
I now live in an urban area, but when I promised myself ‘THIS IS THE LAST FRIGGIN’ TIME I SHOP AT WALMART’ I lived in a rural area (town pop 1,200 county pop 60K). Until I moved to the city, about 55 miles, I DROVE to the city to find a Target or Kmart to do that kind of shopping. I have never regreted NOT shopping at Walmart. How many Walmart Shoppers can say they never regretted SHOPPING at Walmart. As for their banking service (with which I am and will remain completely unfamiliar), if I bought a roll of quarters… I’d count ‘em.

Posted by: Thom Houts at April 14, 2006 7:38 AM
Comment #140616

Thom:

Help me understand…you don’t shop at Walmart but you do shop at similar chains like Kmart and Target. Doesn’t any chain really put local business out of business. I know that Kmart and Target might not do it at the same level as Walmart, but they do essentially the same thing.

Can you fill me in on the average payscale for a Kmart, or the quality of items at a Kmart? Seems to me they are pretty much the same as Walmart. Why aren’t you shopping at Momma Josie’s neighborhood shop for your products rather than simply choosing a different large chain?

Had a friend who complained about how big chains were the scourge of society and he’d never set foot in a Walmart because they weren’t “local business”. Then he took another bite of his Big Mac…..and lost all his credibility.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at April 14, 2006 8:12 AM
Comment #140618

>>ask marysdude about how wal-marts quality went down the crapper he worked there .

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 14, 2006 01:14 AM

Rodney,

Glad you asked…Wal Mart’s buying power is so great that even the major companies have to kow-tow to their pressures.

If an electronic item manufactured for another company calls for a gold connector, Wally will change the spec to copper, yet sell it as the same product.

The company has so much sway over our commerce that the other chains cannot compete unless they also cheapen products. It won’t be long until you can count on how long a product will last by looking at the warranty card.

I grew up in Eagleville, Missouri. I left there to join the Marine Corps in 1958. Wal Mart built a store in Bethany (15 miles south) in 1988. The Eagleville Drug Store and Soda Shoppe closed, the Eagleville Hardware closed, Vanzant’s Grocery closed, Pierson’s Grocery closed, and because of all those shutting down, Smith’s Blacksmith closed, the Old North Station closed, The DX Gas Station and Cafe closed, Eisenbargers Liqoures closed, The Theater on the Square closed, etc., etc. Wally World is like a giant, incurable cancer.

Open banking to Wally World and your local bank, the one you get stretch your note, will close.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 14, 2006 8:25 AM
Comment #140621

The only time I will ever shop at Wal-Mart will be when the union starts strongarming them.
I admire Wal-Mart for being able to keep those crooks out for as long as they have.

That being said, I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. I only buy American and prefer to support my local community shops.
But it seems to me that if you don’t like how they treat their employees, don’t work there and if you don’t like their business practices then don’t shop there.
It’s not any harder than that.

Posted by: kctim at April 14, 2006 9:19 AM
Comment #140630

>>The only time I will ever shop at Wal-Mart will be when the union starts strongarming them.
I admire Wal-Mart for being able to keep those crooks out for as long as they have.

Posted by: kctim at April 14, 2006 09:19 AM

kc,

I can’t remember if you are one of the ‘free market’ folks or not, but I think you are.

If you are a proponent of ‘free market’, and labor is a componant of ‘free market’, how can you be so anti-union? Negotiated labor, like negotiated parts prices is all part of ‘free market’, right? Supply/Demand…you want help producing, I can help produce…all that’s left is deciding how badly you need help, and how badly I want to help…right? Corporations have many on their side in determining how much they are willing to pay, but I only have ME to determine how much I am worth, and you want to take the Union away so that I am left alone in my negotiations? Are Unions more corrupt or unfeeling that corporations?

Posted by: Marysdude at April 14, 2006 10:07 AM
Comment #140634

Didn’t WalMart used advertise “WE SELL ONLY AMERICAN MADE PRODUCTS”? What happened? It seems that almost everything in that store comes from another country!! I started shopping there because of that statement!! I no longer shop there after viewing one of those TV reporting programs, where they actually introduced one of the staff from another country and told how much (rather how little)money she was making working away in one of those “sweatboxes” all day. WE SHOULD ALL BE BOYCOTTING WAL-MART!!!

Posted by: Christine at April 14, 2006 10:30 AM
Comment #140639

Marysdude:

Im not a Walmart apologist, but lets think things through here. There are many chain stores that are replacing the mom/pop stores. Its not accurate to blame Wal-mart for all the failures. The following might just be true in Eagleville, or in similar communities:

Eagleville Drug Store and Soda Shoppe:replaced by Rite Aid
Eagleville Hardware:replaced by True Value or Home Depot
DX Gas Station and Cafe:replaced by 7-11 or McDonalds etc.
Theater on the Square replaced by Loew’s Theatres
Vanzant’s Groceryreplaced by PigglyWiggly

If we are going to vilify Walmart for being a very successful chain, then we need to vilify all similar chains. And they ARE similar, though Walmart is the biggest and therefore easiest target (no pun intended).

What needs to happen is that if people don’t like the quality at Walmart, they shop elsewhere. That’s what hurt K-mart 15-20 years ago. If people dont like chains, then don’t go to the chains, even if its cheaper and more convenient. If you don’t like buying foreign goods, then find a place that truly sells American products. But don’t fall for the UAW type complaints about foreign cars when they know that the majority of “American-made” cars use a lot of foreign components.

My nephew works at a mom/pop grocery store. Prices are high, and the overall offering is less than other stores. But the service is fantastic, the committment to community is great, and the store has a devoted clientele. And that is how you go about taking business from the Walmarts of the world….you provide something of importance to the consumer that they cannot get at the Walmarts of the world.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at April 14, 2006 10:58 AM
Comment #140641

RODNEY
I’m not trying to make WalMart look like the great white hope for small towns. Actually I miss the mom and pop stores. The service was better and they knew who you was and greeted you when you went in. I know WalMart has greeters, but they don’t know who you are most the time.
But WalMart has brought jobs to rural areas that needed them in a bad way. I’d rather drive 2 to 5 miles to a minimum wage job than 25 to 50 miles to a minimum wage job any day. Or not have a job to drive to.
We don’t have a WalMart in this county. Yet. But there’s one over in Valdosta. It really hasn’t hurt local business any as there aint much, and what’s here WalMart doesn’t supply. Also the few mom and pop stores that did go out of business because of it were already hurting with the mall going in over in Valdosta. Now those things can really put a hurting on local businesses. And they’re higher than hell too.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 14, 2006 11:27 AM
Comment #140645

Thom
You really think WalMart cares about your boycott?
Unless the business is small boycotts don’t really do any good. Specially with a business the size of WalMart. So you manage to get around 1,000,000 folks to go along with it. About 100,000,000 still shop there. That’s really teaching them.
I don’t personally shop there, but if others want to, that’s their business. I won’t tell them not too.

joebagodonuts
We have both a Piggly Wiggly and locally owned grocery stores around here. Neither seem to be hurting because of the other. Red and White has been here forever and has a very loyal customer base. There’s second and third generation shoppers there. Their momma’s and grandmomma’s shopped there and they do too.
Both Momma and my wife’s momma shopped there. While we get a lot of things we need at our convenient store, we go to Red and White for the things we don’t we don’t stock.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 14, 2006 11:56 AM
Comment #140646

Wow!!!
Some eye-opening facts. Better sell my Wal-Mart stock. With Management destroying their business the way you describe, customers are probably rarely entering a Wal-Mart store. Thanks for the warning about Wal-Mart’s soon to be Going-Out-Of-Business Clearance Sales.

Posted by: tim_lebsack at April 14, 2006 12:03 PM
Comment #140647

I want to make a totally naive and unrelated comment…….I really do think that Papa Walton’s original intent was to provide merchandise and services to backwoods rural communities. For a period of time, I think that happened, then like so many others, principles deteriorated. Family got a whiff of that almighty $ and caved in to it. I think old Sam may be turning in his grave.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at April 14, 2006 12:14 PM
Comment #140648
There are many chain stores that are replacing the mom/pop stores. Its not accurate to blame Wal-mart for all the failures.

joebagodonuts,

I see a bit of a difference between wal-mart and some of your examples. 7-11, McDonalds and Piggly Wiggly are franchises while True Value is a coop. Basically, all individually owned and operated. Going to an earlier point, this is money that stays in the community. Yes, True Value may be a larger store front than a smaller hardware store and can sell less expensively because of the bulk buying power, but it’s still a local store.

Yes, there are always going to be stores that are larger or smaller than their competition, and the larger store may have certain advantages over smaller stores, but the problem with companies like wal-mart is their predatory tactics. An individual store can take a loss, supported by the financial strength of the chain, until smaller competition is driven out, and then they raise their prices again.

There was a great Frontline piece about wal-mart http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/view/ where it talks about wal-marts “Opening Price Point”, which are the super low prices that get you into the door. Then when you get back to the department and see the item you actually want, you make a connection that its price “must be” the lowest price in town. In fact, many of wal-marts products won’t be the lowest prices in town.

Now I’m not saying that this is as unethical as undercutting yourself to drive the competition out of business, this is just a smart marketing tactic that people fall for.

Posted by: Grant at April 14, 2006 12:20 PM
Comment #140651

You really think WalMart cares about your boycott?
Unless the business is small boycotts don’t really do any good. Specially with a business the size of WalMart. So you manage to get around 1,000,000 folks to go along with it. About 100,000,000 still shop there. That’s really teaching them.

Ron,

You’re right, I don’t think boycotts work for these monolithic stores either. They’ve grown to a size that the individual no longer matters. That being said, they do care deeply about their image and this is where they are vulnerable.

I recently heard a story about a guy who was being worked over by his insurance company. In brief, following an accident that wasn’t his fault, his insurance company was avoiding payment, giving him pennies on the dollar for the cost of his rental car, etc… Then, when the guy complained, they told him he could get a lawyer if he wanted, but they’d drag it out and it would end up costing him more than what he should be getting to cover his damages and injuries, so he should just shut-up and take what they are giving him.

This guy launched a website, and forgive me for not having the link, where he posted the full story, photos, all correspondence, etc… Now the interesting thing is that he purchased numerous URL’s that pointed to this website. the url’s were the names of all the executives in the company (i.e. johnsmith.com, janedoe.com, etc…) and they could have their name back when they settled his claim adequately. Shortly after hitting the news, the company was all over this guy treating him nicely, getting his bills paid and getting his claim settled.

If you want to take down an organization like wal-mart, or at least get them to play the game ethically, their image is the way to go.

Posted by: Grant at April 14, 2006 12:38 PM
Comment #140652

Paul,

Let me guess, those hourly wages include part timers … or do you even know?

What’s your solution? Seeing how people are neither forced to work there nor buy from there, are you proposing some governmental shutdown of Wal Mart?

Yes, that’s an excellent solution. So, all of those poor people without the brains of a northeastern liberal can spend $300 on a vacuum cleaner instead of $150 … or $2 for some soap instead of a buck.

Let’s face it, liberals which dominate money-grubbing areas like New York, Massachusettes, California, and Chicago … they could give a rat’s ass about a poor person … that is until another major election cycle.

I bet you liberal candidates won’t bring up their distaste for the common man’s Wal Mart a month before the election. What are they going to say? “DOWN WITH WAL MART!! PAY TWICE AS MUCH FOR BASIC GOODS AT OTHER STORES!!!”

Posted by: Brian S. at April 14, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #140657

I find this whole post amazing…

The bottom line is this…
Any highly successful company or person MUST be bad. They HAVE to be doing something illegally. They HAVE to have the wrong values. They HAVE to be hurting someone somehow. They HAVE to be stopped.

Now, let’s just start looking for the the things that HAVE to be wrong.

Success is EVIL and must be punished…

Posted by: Cliff at April 14, 2006 1:04 PM
Comment #140661

Cliff:

Yes, success is a sign of an evil nature. Only the truly despicable can excell in American and they should be eliminated. Why don’t we tax them to death. That’ll show ‘em.

Posted by: goodkingned at April 14, 2006 1:28 PM
Comment #140662
Any highly successful company or person MUST be bad. They HAVE to be doing something illegally. They HAVE to have the wrong values. They HAVE to be hurting someone somehow. They HAVE to be stopped.

Now, let’s just start looking for the the things that HAVE to be wrong.

Success is EVIL and must be punished…

And I just love the conservative philosophy:

Any highly successful company or person MUST be good because success=good=success. They HAVE to be acting legally because they wouldn’t be successful otherwise. They automatically have the right values, which is ultimately, to be successful. They HAVE to be helping people, otherwise they wouldn’t be successful. They HAVE to be supported at all costs.

Now, let’s all just focus on everything they HAVE to be doing right.

Success is GOOD, regardless of the cost.

Here’s the thing you fail to point out Cliff. There are many successful companies in the US. There are many successful individuals. Out of all this success, few are vilified like Wal-Mart. Why is that? Questioning how these companies do business is how we weed out the bad ones such as Enron and WorldCom. I don’t see anyone vilifying Disney, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Procter and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, etc… in the same way they attack wal-mart. Maybe, just maybe, that’s because there’s actually something to the arguments put forth against how this company does business.

Posted by: Grant at April 14, 2006 1:31 PM
Comment #140663

Dude
“Are Unions more corrupt or unfeeling that corporations?”

Todays unions ARE corporations. The original purpose is gone.

How much do I dislike unions? I will NEVER work in a place ruled by them. I’ve turned down offers to work at the local Ford plant and stayed with my $8 an hour security job.
If unions starts calling for boycotts of Wal-Mart, I start supporting Wal-Mart.

Posted by: kctim at April 14, 2006 1:32 PM
Comment #140664

Rob:

Costco has half the turnover that Wal Mart has. It has higher wages and higher benefits.

I said nothing about high-paying and low-paying jobs. But by the way, the average guy in a bank does not make much money, even though the banks make huge amounts of money.

My point is that we should allow the 2 predators - Wal Mart and the financial industry - to have a go at each other. At the least, we will have competition and maybe banks will treat us better.

Brian S.

“Let’s face it, liberals which dominate money-grubbing areas like New York, Massachusettes, California, and Chicago … they could give a rat’s ass about a poor person … that is until another major election cycle.”

I fail to see how this has anything to do with my argument.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at April 14, 2006 1:32 PM
Comment #140672

I’ve brought this up before here, but….

Walmart has its workers work less than full time so they can collect welfare. They do this to save money. They use this extra money to buy cheap goods from China to undercut American businesses. We all pay for them to do this, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Yep.

Posted by: Max at April 14, 2006 2:05 PM
Comment #140676

Grant
Evidently WalMart doesn’t care much about it’s image. It’s been taking a beating lately and they just now got around to making a movie about how good they are. Then they charged to get in to see it.
Even with all the bad publicity folks are still shopping there and they’re still growing. They announced plans to build 3 new stores here in Georgia. How many more are they planing elsewhere?


As I stated earlier, WalMart is already in banking over in Arkansas. They own Arvest Bank over there. From what my sister tells me Arvest is the leader in new ways to rip off the customers in that area. If that’s the case what would make anyone think that WalMart would force other financial companies to lower their rates? Or would charge less than the others?

BTW, she told me they were considering going into the used car business. Now there’s a line to help your corporate image.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 14, 2006 2:18 PM
Comment #140677

Costco is the anti Wal-mart. It’s not near as big(capitalization) though. Yet.

I’m think you have an interesting idea, Paul.

But a shark is a shark. It’s feeds on the chum in the water: consumers.

Posted by: gergle at April 14, 2006 2:23 PM
Comment #140679

Ron,

You may be right to some extent, but I think wal-mart has made attempts at portraying a positive image. From the Made in the USA thing to the happy door greeters to their relentless advertising about how much they give back to the local community. No, they don’t want to change their business practices to improve their image, they rely on marketing to do that. It’s just that the negative press outweighs whatever they try to say.

This being said, I still think image is the way to get them. I’ve been seeing more and more lawsuits from communities that are trying to keep wal-mart out and some communities are winning. The negative image that wal-mart has will, over time, lead to a slowing of their growth.

Posted by: Grant at April 14, 2006 2:42 PM
Comment #140685
Wal Mart would rather close a money-making store than have it unionized.

There’s an idea. If going after Wal Mart’s image doesn’t work - get a part time job at Wal Mart and bring the union in.

Posted by: anonymous at April 14, 2006 3:24 PM
Comment #140723

Mr. Siegel,
What idiot attempts to support a family of 4 on $17,000? No one, that’s who. At that point, both adults should be working, more than one job each if neccessary. Also, at $19,000, the dreaded “Poverty Line” (the horror!), Americans have more square footage, more phones, more tv’s and more cars than the MIDDLE CLASS in Europe. A greater percentage also own their own homes. If you are at the poverty line in the US, you should get on your knees everyday and thank God that you live at the poverty line in the US. I know I did when I was making that kind of money. Travel the world a bit and you’ll see why.

Wal-Mart serves a purpose, if you don’t like the company, don’t work there, don’t shop there. The problem with socialists is that once they don’t like something, they want to “protect” everyone else from it. That’s code for force their will on the whole country because they are “smarter” and “care more”. Well, you aren’t and you don’t. BTW, why not attack Ikea as well? They offer goods at rock bottom prices. They don’t do it by paying clerks $60,000 a year either. Oh wait, Ikea started in a socialist country, so they get a pass. Sorry, I forgot the rules.

Posted by: David C. at April 14, 2006 6:51 PM
Comment #140730
What idiot attempts to support a family of 4 on $17,000? No one, that’s who. At that point, both adults should be working, more than one job each if neccessary.

Right, and when that happens then the self-riotous conservative right whines and complains that parents aren’t at home taking care of their children.

I’m amazed at the contempt the right has for people who struggle to get by in this country.

BTW, why not attack Ikea as well? They offer goods at rock bottom prices.

Good point. Answer: Ikea, along with a vast majority of American companies run their business ethically and responsibly. They treat their customers with respect. They treat their employees with respect.

Posted by: Grant at April 14, 2006 7:17 PM
Comment #140737
Answer: Ikea, along with a vast majority of American companies run their business ethically and responsibly.

p.s. and yes, they can do this AND make a profit.

Posted by: Grant at April 14, 2006 7:49 PM
Comment #140744

Grant:

There is no reason to treat people who struggle to get by with contempt. I don’t do it, nor do I know anyone who does, though I tend to hang with a rather conservative bunch. What I DO see is people willing to extend a helping hand to others, but….usually only if the others are willing to try to help themselves in the process.
I’m not much into handouts, but I’m big into ‘handups’.

Walmart is not nearly as bad as people claim. That’s not to say they are saints—they don’t intend to be. They intend to be a profitable company. So do many other companies.

I like the Costco method though, and if they had a store nearby, I’d likely shop there. But they don’t. I don’t hold Walmart accountable to raise the pay of their workers—just as I don’t hold the mom and pop stores accountable to pay more than minimum wage. (Psst…you know they don’t, right?) I’d like to see them do a little more, but not at the point of a legislative gun.

It is interesting to note that the two companies the left has identified as being terrible over the past decade are Walmart and Microsoft. Both companies started with little, were the brainchild of one primary person, and became insanely successful out of a mixture of foresight, luck and perspiration. Once they reached the pinnacle, the left began hating them..Interesting, dontcha think?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at April 14, 2006 8:12 PM
Comment #140777

Just out of curiosity, how many Wal-Mart haters here shop at Target? Because they have many of the same “poor ethics” that Wal-Mart does.

But that’s all moot to me since I don’t really see the problem with Wal-Mart. Sure, they don’t pay their workers a lot, but clearly their workers are willing to work for that pay, so what’s the problem?

Posted by: Zeek at April 14, 2006 10:59 PM
Comment #140794

I personally know 4 current WalMart employees, and 2 former employees.
Three of the four current employees say that they’re treated OK. Not great just OK. The fourth claims that she’s being discriminated against because she didn’t get promoted to Assistant Manager. But then she doesn’t tell you that she misses a lot of work and is about to be fired.
The two former employees also say that they were treated OK. None of them think they are or were paid enough. But then who does?

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 15, 2006 12:05 AM
Comment #140829

Lower price has always been the Wal-Mart mantra and its goal. Sam Walton was very dedicated to that theme. But, Sam was an American, and although he wanted to spread to international markets, he did not wish to hurt America.

Shewmaker, Soderquist, et al, supported Sam in this when they headed up the company, but when Glass and later Scott took over they decided to change the direction of the company. It was/is more important to them to extinguish unions and sell cheaper (not necessarily lower priced, just cheaper made) merchandise. America to Lee Scott is just a place to expand his giant. A base from which to operate. He thinks nothing of our nation, has no feelings for his country. He cannot see that if it weren’t for America, Wal Mart would not and could not exist. The world would not have allowed the seed to grow, but he is blind to that. His mantra is ‘damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!’. ‘To hell with America, the world is waiting’.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 15, 2006 6:33 AM
Comment #140834

Back to the thread…with the ‘damn the consequences’ attitude Wally World has, I’m not sure you want in your banking.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 15, 2006 8:47 AM
Comment #140847

Grant,
What does “ethically and responsibly” mean? Who decides? Let me guess who, the “compassionate left”? How convenient. In a free market Grant, the consumer, the MARKET decides, not YOU. I know that rankles you, but it’s a fact, YOU just aren’t that important.

I shop at Sam’s, Wal-Mart, Target and Ikea among others. I buy the best quality for the lowest price depending on what I’m buying. I don’t always buy the cheapest, just what I think is the best value, and at a place where I think I get good service. My service standards for Wal-Mart are diffferent from say Nordstrom’s. When the service at Wal-Mart dips below what I think is acceptable, and they have come close at times, I won’t shop there any more. Any marketer will tell you, when you do something as a consumer, so are a thousand other people. If enough people stop shopping at Wal-Mart, they will either change, or go out of business. THAT is how the free market works. No matter how much the left wants to ban Wal-Mart, or force them to accept Unions to make them more “compassionate”, i.e., more ineffecient, the market will find a way to get what it wants. That is the inherent weakness of socialism. Here endeth the lesson.


p.s. Aldous, I shop at Wal-Mart usually becuase I can get what I need there in one place, rather that making 2 or 3 stops, not because I’m too poor to go anywhere else. I know some people are, but the Great Depression is over. FDR is dead, and Socialism Always Fails. We are at full employment, the economy is so hot we are almost inflationary. If you want a job, or two or three, they are there. This is with 12 million Illegals working off the books as well. I’m sure you are doing ok, but characterizing the rest of the country as “too poor to go anywhere else” is disingenuous at best. There will always be people at the bottom of the economic ladder, but in the US, they usually don’t stay there. Unless they get trapped on the modern plantation of welfare.

Posted by: David C. at April 15, 2006 11:16 AM
Comment #140862

Not that I’m a big fan of Wal-Mart or anything, I shop at my super Wal-Mart for the groceries. The prices are so much better than the other stores in my town. And yes for other things also, but I do look to see where something is made too. As for banking I don’t bank at a so called bank I do my banking at my local credit union for a low fee in my case 5.00 to open a savings acount, I have a checking and savings account. In the case of an overdraft instead of paying 37.00 I pay 20.00, I have no fee on my bank card, I have a fee if I use the card as a debit card after I think it’s 10 times in a month, but it’s less than I used to pay at my old bank, I have no fees for travelers checks or certified checks if I should need one. In my town we have so many drug store chains some across the street from each other and a lot of our mom and pop stores still survived the arrival of Wal-Mart.

PS. The grocery store chain that I don’t go to unless they have a huge sale on something that Wal-Mart won’t match the price on is a local chain that still can’t match the price of the same brands that I can get cheaper at Wal-Mart, and they pay their employees less than what Wal-Mart pays their people.

Posted by: Sherri at April 15, 2006 1:44 PM
Comment #140889

>>Not that I’m a big fan of Wal-Mart or anything, I shop at my super Wal-Mart for the groceries. The prices are so much better than the other stores in my town.

Posted by: Sherri at April 15, 2006 01:44 PM

Sherri,

The grocery store you used to shop probably has a meat department wherein they cut and package their meat.

Wal Mart was so worried about unionized meat cutters that they now hire processors at one non-union location, package and ship the meat long distances.

The next time you want a steak or roast, go to both stores and read the lables. Look at all the chemicals and water added to the Wal Mart meat in comparison to that that you get in the other store. Wal Mart has to pack their meats to comply with interstate transportation regs, and as a consequence they are feeding you more crap than meat. It saves them a penny or two and you get the bone.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 15, 2006 3:54 PM
Comment #140908

Sherri,

I would like to add…if it comes to the point in your life that you can purchase two of the same cut of meat…buy one from your old store and one from Wally World. Cook them both the same way at the same time, if possible. I’d be willing to bet that you throw out the Wal Mart meat, or feed it to your dog, and eat the one that came from your old store.

Wal Mart meat might be bred in Argentina, butchered in Mexico, packaged in Singapore, sent by Land-Sea from New Orleans to Cleveland and transported by Wal Mart truck to your local store.

Your old store, on the other hand, might get their meat from a carcass shipped direct from Lamoni, Iowa, to your local store, where it is cut up, packaged and sold.

Price is only one part of a bargain.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 15, 2006 5:27 PM
Comment #140921

Keep shoppin in Wallys peeps, cos with all of the jobs they’re creatin’ in China sourcing cheap product, with all of the jobs being lost in their competitors businesses because of their rapaciousness, with China being build into an economic superpower, holding massive amounts of American debt, you’re gonna need to shop in Wallys, cos ya won’t have no choice. That’s cheap!

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at April 15, 2006 7:15 PM
Comment #140992

Marysdude:

If there was no Walmart, one would develop to fill the economic niche. That said, I have to agree that the meat at Walmart is weird. It’s weird looking and it’s packaged in an odd way.

Posted by: goodkingned at April 16, 2006 3:18 AM
Comment #140994
It is interesting to note that the two companies the left has identified as being terrible over the past decade are Walmart and Microsoft. Both companies started with little, were the brainchild of one primary person, and became insanely successful out of a mixture of foresight, luck and perspiration. Once they reached the pinnacle, the left began hating them..Interesting, dontcha think?

Starting in his garage in Bellevue in 1994, Jeff Bezos launched a little online bookstore called Amazon.com. Early investors were impressed when they hit 100 books a day in sales. In 2004, revenue sat at almost 7 billion dollars. Despite the incredible success in just 12 years, I can’t recall hearing much complaining from the left. I guess this one has slipped through their radar.

A small paper mill that was on the verge of bankruptcy decided to redefine its business. After selling the paper mills, Kimberly-Clark began producing various consumer package goods like tissue and toilet paper. At an early meeting, the CEO stood before his handful of staff and asked for a moment of silence. Respectfully yet confused, the staff bowed their heads. Then Darwin Smith said “That was a moment of silence for Proctor and Gamble” His staff erupted in cheers. Within a decade, Kimberly-Clark surpassed Proctor and Gamble in sales. Yet, not a word from the left.

With nothing more than one thousand dollars and an idea, Michael Dell launched Dell Computers with a unique strategy of direct to consumer sales. Now Dell sells more systems globally than any other computer company placing it 25th on the Fortune 500 list, surpassing Microsoft that sits at number 48. I guess this is another successful company that started with little, was the brainchild of one primary person and became insanely successful that the left has missed in its ruthless attack of successful businesses.

Interesting, dontcha think?

I could go on all night listing the history of successful American companies that the left hasn’t attacked with the same vigor that it has Wal-Mart, but the fact is that this contention that the left hates successful businesses is beyond ludicrous. The real problem is that the right is so buried in the pockets of big business that it blinds them to any and all unethical or irresponsible behavior.

What does “ethically and responsibly” mean? Who decides? Let me guess who, the “compassionate left”?

And what is ethical and responsible? Well, let’s see. Is hiring illegal aliens, as Wal-Mart has done, is this unethical? How about forcing employees to work seven day, 70 hour weeks for $1,500 a month? What about locking employees in the store overnight? Does this sound like responsible behavior?

The very first operating system created by Microsoft, Altair BASIC, was developed by Bill Gates using stolen computer time on Harvard’s minicomputers. Later, Microsoft stole much of its windows interface designs from Apple. Add to that any number of borderline or blatant anti-competitive business practices. Would this qualify as unethical behavior?

In a free market Grant, the consumer, the MARKET decides, not YOU. I know that rankles you, but it’s a fact

I understand and agree with the principles of the free market, but I would supplement your statement with the fact that the market decides based on COMPLETE information. We’re just putting out information here. We’re just showing the full picture, not the narrow, one-sided story you’d like people to hear. I know that informing people rankles you, the truth has been an enemy of the right for some time now, but it’s a fact, you’re distortions fall apart in the light of day.

Posted by: Grant at April 16, 2006 3:37 AM
Comment #140996

And going back to the original point of this post, if it’s all about the free market, then why not let Wal-Mart get into banking and let the free market decide? Oh no, the right doesn’t like that idea. You see, the right only believes in the principles of the free market when they are controlling the strings of the great invisible hand. Look at how the right goes crying to the government to curtail free market forces. What a pack of hypocrites

Posted by: Grant at April 16, 2006 4:05 AM
Comment #141012

Wal-Mart: the 21st century ROBBER BARON.
Bush: the 21st century President McKinnely.

Oh, by the way—if you can’t get help from the government—then the only other place is compassionate conservatism ie: some religious orginization— a deceptive cloak of control.

If you can’t see it, then the control of the poor already exist for you.

It becomes economic slavery. So no matter what, one way or another we all will be supressed into this, even if the prices are cheap.

Posted by: Gary at April 16, 2006 9:40 AM
Comment #141068

marysdude in the late 1980s liberal kansas had a very large beef stockyards. i dont know about today, my brother in law had a small independent trucking company. owner operators what happened to all of those guys? he made some big money back then.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 16, 2006 3:09 PM
Comment #141271

Maybe Wal-mart has been reading WAtchblog!

Wal-mart avoids Watchblog boycott

Viva the free press!

Posted by: gergle at April 17, 2006 7:04 PM
Comment #141502

gergle good post! its a start. ie costco has a 15% margin and membership and offers auto and home insurance to the public

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 18, 2006 4:14 PM
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