Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wal-Mart Jeopardized by Whiny Consumers

All right all of you self-centered consumers, that’s enough whining about your families’ health and safety. If you continue with this childish ranting, you'll put Wal-Mart in a very awkward position with their Chinese suppliers.

Yes it’s unfortunate when a family pet dies from poisoned food or your child gets sick from toys that contain lead. But you need to put your narrow self-interest aside and look at the larger picture. Wal-Mart executives are some of the wealthiest people in the country, and it’s very important that we maintain this situation.

If you don’t make trouble by complaining about the Godawful quality of Chinese products, some of Wal-Mart’s incredible wealth will trickle down onto peons like you. So shut the fuck up and keep on buying that deadly pet food and those dangerous toys from Mao-Mart.

Erin Burnett of CNBC said it best: “Ya know, if China were to revalue its currency or China is to start making say, toys that don’t have lead in them or food that isn’t poisonous, their costs of production are going to go up and that means prices at Wal-Mart here in the United States are going to go up too. So, I would say China is our greatest friend right now.”

Got that, whiners? Stop being so self-pitying and narrow minded. Chinese manufacturers and Wal-Mart executives have their needs too.

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Blogger LET'S TALK said...

You know, with all the whining, Wal Mart parking lots are still full of cars with people inside the store buying the cheap products.
It's just a fact, the average American is going to buy where their dollar can stretch the furthest. I don't know what that says about us, but we are damned if we do and damned if we don't .

August 24, 2007 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Let's Talk: That's true, Wal-Mart's parking lots are chock full. Free enterprise I guess. I hardly ever go there, but they fill a need. They're always open and they'll probably have what you need.

Like everywhere, our area has the ongoing debate about Wal-Mart vs. patronizing local businesses. When it comes to local politics I seem to be more of a free-enterprise conservative (God, what's happening to me?). When local stores are threatened by Wal-Mart, why don't they start selling things that Wal-Mart doesn't have, or offering a different (or better) service. Too many merchants seem to just wring their hands and moan "oh, Wal-Mart is stealing my customers." I don't own a business, but if I did my solution would be to offer something that the Big Boxes don't offer.

August 24, 2007 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

I am right their on the same page with you tom. I even go out the way to pay a little, well sometimes a lot more just to buy from any other store as long as it's not Wal-Mart.
I agree that "Too many merchants seem to just wring their hands and moan "oh, Wal-Mart is stealing my customers."
It is hard when you have ten (10), Electric Stoves of a certain make in stock, at a high price and Wal-Mart has an unlimited amount of Electric Stoves of several different makes in stock, at a cheaper price.

August 24, 2007 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Let's Talk: I hardly ever darken Wal-Mart's doorway. I'd rather patronize a local merchant than a box box store if it's at all possible. According to our local Downtown Association, for every dollar you spend at a locally-owned store, 60 cents of that dollar stays in your community. For every dollar you spend at a big box store, only six cents of that dollar stays in the community. So you're really helping your local economy by shopping locally.

But unfortunately Wal-Mart does come in handy once in awhile.

August 24, 2007 at 5:55 PM  
Blogger Mile High Pixie said...

I have the luxury of never having to shop at a Sprawl-Mart, primarily because town after town near Denver refuse to allow one to be built in it. I prefer paying a little more at a small hardware store near my house; even though its prices are higher, I don't have to drive and park (it's a five-block walk from my house) and the employees can actually help you. My hubby made the observation recently that if you're not going to have low prices like Sprawl-Mart, then you have to have what they don't have--good service, knowledgeable salespeople, good location, unusual products, or maybe even, say, an actual concern for ethics of their products and their employees. As an architect, though, I also don't shop at Sprawl-mart because its decor and lighting (and frankly the employees) are depressing to look at and be in. I feel hopeless when I walk in there, and I always have, even back in the 1980s before i knew about it employee treatment policies.

People shop at big box retail because it often has the best prices, especially for people in rural areas where incomes are low. Maybe we should raise the minimum wage to a real living wage so people don't have to support these companies.

August 24, 2007 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mile High Pixie: I hardly ever go to Sprawl-Mart. (I wish I could say never, but...)

I'd much rather pay more money and keep the money in the community. As I was saying in an earlier comment, ten times as much of your money stays in the community if you shop at local stores instead of big boxes.

Yes, higher wages would definitely make people more able to shop at locally-owned stores.

And it's also the painful truth that small business who are driven out of business by the big boxes have only themselves to blame. They obviously can't sell the same products as Wal-Mart for a lower price, so they need to provide good service, treat their employees well and sell products that you can't find at Wal-Mart.

August 24, 2007 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger enigma4ever said...

welll Erin is Sooooo Openminded about this...gee, guess she doesn't have pets or kids...( and I guess we should be grateful...)

And yeah, we keep going, but the list of what we can buy safely shrinks....( I hate going there but as a single mom with a son that grows by the minute- I am stuck...but I also shop in my community and also do alot of 2nd hand....anything to NOT do Walsmart...)

August 24, 2007 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Enigma4ever: Yup, that Erin is about as clueless as anyone can get. Wal-Mart comes in handy when you need it (low prices, huge selection, they're always open) but it's nice to use them as little as possible.

August 24, 2007 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Mauigirl said...

We have no nearby Wal-Mart where I live (our neighborhood association led the charge to keep them out when they tried to come here) but I do agree with Tom that local businesses should do more than wring their hands and lament. We do have a Home Depot and I remember when it was first coming to town a local hardware/electrical store had a big sign in their window "No Home Depot." Well, I tried to go to that store a couple of times and they were never open when I could go. They closed for lunch! They closed at 5! I have never been inside the place. So of course we go to Home Depot now that it's here. The other thing is, local hardwares could be offering things our neighborhood needs that big box places like Home Depot don't stock - 84" doors (we're an older community with big old houses with nonstandard doors); ropes for double-hung windows (ditto on older homes), etc.

That all said, I still cannot believe Erin Burnett said that out loud on CNBC. I saw the clip on the Daily Show, I believe, and it was unbelievable to me. Wal-Mart has a sacred trust to offer goods that are safe, prices should be secondary. And where is our government in all this? Where is the oversight? Shouldn't there be inspections to ensure the safety of the public?

August 25, 2007 at 6:10 AM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

I'm proud to say, I've never set foot in a Walmart, and never will.

August 25, 2007 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mauigirl: Yes I agree, the big boxes suck, but when a local merchant goes under because of them, it's usually the merchant's own fault. I live right downtown in a small town; the nearest Wal-Mart is 2 miles away. Some of the shops in town are really great -- interesting merchandise, and the owners are really enthusiastic and energetic; you can tell they really love what they're doing. No big box or franchise would ever threaten these people.

And there are other merchants who seem to think that if they set up a shop and put up the "Open" sign, customers will automatically come streaming in and start buying things. These are the people who go under when a big box store moves into town.

Nevertheless, business and government owe the public a certain safety standard, which we haven't been getting. Poisoned pet food and toys containing lead -- that's totally unacceptable.

Lizzy: That's the spirit.

August 25, 2007 at 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This February was the first time I stepped into a Wal-Mart. But it was only as far as the portrait studio so I can say I have not really been in a Wal-Mart. I only do Costco for Gas and I avoid the other big box stores especially Home Depot, because I find none of the help nor service that the local guys give.

I don't think every local goes out of business because of inventory. I really think it is price and price alone.

When I lived in Berkeley the town kept majors like Blockbuster and Starbucks out to protect their own local merchants who did offer things the big guys couldn't or wouldn't. In the case of Blockbuster various independent films and films Blockbuster considers too sexual. Several neighborhoods in San Francisco have dome the same.

Me I shop local stores, patronize Farmers Markers, and local restaurants as often as possible. I notice the proprietors appreciate it and some cases get a discount.

As for China being our best friend? C'mon there are many 5th world countries ready to gear up and take their business and they notice. In a few years it could be Burundi and you are asking "what happened to Made in China?"


August 27, 2007 at 2:37 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: Uh oh, you went to Wal-Mart :) That's pretty good, never setting foot there. I hardly ever go there, but I can't say never.

CostCo at least pays their employees well and provides good benefits; there seems to be a really high employee morale. I've only been there a few times but they seem to have high quality stuff.

Wal-Mart usually has a lot of employees around that you can ask if you're looking for something. The one time I went to Target it was like a ghost town. There literally was nobody working there. And Home Depot -- whoever you ask for help, they won't know the answer so they call somebody else over. This person shows up ten minutes later, looks at the ceiling and goes "uuuuhhhhhh..." for a few minutes and then tells you that they don't have whatever it was you needed.

I know that the Big Boxes and franchises are trying to drive out local businesses, but it's still up to the local merchant to provide something the big boxes don't have. When I lived in Berkeley, Tower Records and Leopold's were right next to each other. Tower undoubtedly moved next door to Leopold's so they could them under, but it didn't work. Leopold's had a fantastic selection, great atmosphere. I liked Tower Records but Leopold's was better.

I also don't have a problem with neighborhoods voting to keep franchises out. It reflects the local residents' desire to retain their uniqueness, which is hard to do when every other business is a franchise.

August 27, 2007 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


We lived in a weird island. Where independent Bookstores still thrive (though not as much) as well as Local Video Stores and Coffee houses.

Tower is now gone as the Wherehouse but Amoeba, Rasputins and Down Home are still doing great - others too.

Village Music will close it's doors at the end of the month. But that was due to rising rents and the fact that the owner is getting into his 60's. Otherwise he was still doing great!


August 27, 2007 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: A "weird island," LOL. Yup, the Bay Area has a few of those. Glad to hear Down Home and Rasputin are still going strong. I don't remember Amoeba. I read about the Village Music owner retiring.

August 27, 2007 at 4:57 PM  

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