Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Wal-Mart is Evil

The PBS show Frontline recently did an episode on Wal-Mart, called "Is Wal-Mart Good For America?". I had advance warning of this show, but never got around to watching it. Fortunately, a friend e-mailed me the link today.

I've never had much love for Wal-Mart. It is an American success story that grew into an American nightmare, a juggernaut that hurts its employees, the communities where it places its stores, the customers who shop there, and ultimately the American economy at large.

A commenter on one of my entries on vote suppression made me aware of a phenomenon called Whirl-Mart, a sort of performance art/civil disobedience protest against Wal-Mart. (After all, the activities of the "Whirlers" technically count as "trespassing". Remember, Wal-Mart once threw somebody out of a store - I think they had her arrested - for writing down prices on a piece of paper. Comparison shopping. "Always Low Prices - Just Don't Check Us On Them.") I prefer to vote with my feet, and my money, by not shopping at Wal-Mart. (Most of the time, anyway.)

One of the greatest mysteries of my life is the fact that while I despise Wal-Mart, I fondly love its warehouse-club sibling Sam's Club. From top to bottom, Sam's has a completely different feel to it than Wal-Mart. Maybe this is some nascent sense of elitism on my part - Sam's is a members-only club, while Wal-Mart is open to everyone. I dunno. But I do know this: Wal-Mart is evil. Evil.


Super G said...

The only ethical choice is to move to Costco. Forget Sam's, you're just feeding the beast.

D.B. Echo said...

I know. I received the same advice from somebody else last night, and I recalled reading an article in Slate (http://slate.msn.com/id/2104988/) that made the point that Costco is good where Wal-Mart/Sam's is evil. Problem is, the nearest Costco is about 60 miles away, and the nearest Sam's is 11 miles away and in-between where I work and where I live. I can only hope that Costco locates a store in this market and gives us an alternative source of 2-gallon containers of laundry detergent.

Anonymous said...

New article in the Times today. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/business/yourmoney/14wal.html?ex=1102136400&en=55680ef384fea40f&ei=5070&oref=login&ex=1103346000


D.B. Echo said...

Using data to predict which items will be in demand in specific circumstances so they can have stock available when those circumstances are expected to arise? Those FIENDS!!!!

Wait, that's actually a good use of data. That's a pretty interesting article.

Super G said...

The use of ongoing sales tracking is a big WalMart success.

In a related note, I always try to answer shopping/marketing polls when I can. Since there sample may be limited, I figure if I answer it weights the world toward producing goods and services directed at me. If only I could start working my way into focus groups somehow.

Chloe said...

Yes, I have engaged in guerilla photography, I suppose. hah.

At any rate, I will say that knowing people who work at Wal-Mart, and also knowing someone who works for Sam's Club... I will say that it does seem Sam's Club treats their employees somewhat better than Wal-Mart.
But yes, I avoid Sam's Club, because it is Wal-Mart, essentially.

And there is no Costco in my area either.
As you well know, because I think we're practically neighbors.
So where IS the nearest Costco?

D.B. Echo said...

My sources tell me there's a Costco in East Stroudsburg, marginally closer to you than to me. And yep, I drive past your fair city twice a day!